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COVID-19 precautions begin around the area

By Staff | Mar 15, 2020

St. Luke’s has urged the public to abstain from visiting the St. Luke’s Care Center until further notice to prevent and reduce the risk of outbreak of COVID-19.

LeadingAge Minnesota and Care Providers of Minnesota on Thursday, March 12, advised nursing homes and assisted living providers to take action immediately to restrict visitor access to only essential visits. These recommendations build on the latest guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All family members, contractors, and volunteers are being asked to temporarily avoid visiting nursing homes and assisted living setting except for essential circumstances.

“While information about?COVID-19 is evolving, we already know that older people and those living in congregate settings, like nursing homes, are at greatest risk for the most serious infections associated with COVID-19,” said Gayle Kvenvold, CEO?of LeadingAge Minnesota. “We believe that aggressive steps focused on prevention are the best way of reducing the risk of the type of outbreak that occurred in Washington State.”

And local care facilities are taking those precautions.

St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center informed the public via a Facebook post that stated family and friends are requested to abstain from visiting the St. Luke’s care facility in Blue Earth at this time.

At this time, St. Luke’s does not have any cases of COVID-19 in their facility.

The CDC, Minnesota Department of Health and CMS have recommended a variety of steps to implement precautions to the virus.

“We are limiting all visitors to our facility unless absolutely necessary,” reads the post from St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center. “We are actively screening all individuals, including staff, who need to come into the building.”

St. Luke’s shares they understand that connecting with loved ones is important, and recommend other considerations for communicating with family members at the facility. They include phone calls, email, text messaging, video chat, or other forms of social media.

In Wells, Clark Crossings and Parkview Care Center, two branches of Heartland Senior Living Facilities, have also taken visitor precautions, and have no COVID-19 cases in their facilities and are taking these precautions for the health and safety of their residents.

“We are following the lead of area nursing homes by stepping up our planning for the virus and restricting visitors at this time,” says Murry Finger, director of Parkview Care Center. “Vendors and staff members are being screened when they enter the main entrance of our facilities. There is no timeline as to how long we will be asking members of the public to restrict their visits. We are working with educating our staff on proper procedures and planning for the future. We want to keep communication open with the public as much as possible.”

Christopher Knoll, CEO of Minnewaska Community Health Services who works closely with Heartland Senior Living facilities in the county, says care facilities are taking precautions such as restricted visitation because seniors with respiratory illnesses like COPD, emphysema, asthma, along with other underlying health conditions, are at the greatest risk of this virus.

“We are working diligently with disaster planning groups across the state, providing educational and procedural training to all staff members and vending companies who regularly stop at our care facilities, and will continue to communicate to the public with regard to visiting their loved ones,” says Knoll.

He shares nursing home facilities are the most vulnerable at this juncture, while assisted living facilities are still vulnerable, but not as vulnerable as full-care facilities. Independent living facilities for seniors still are at risk, but are not at as great of a risk as those in full-term care facilities.

Winnebago’s Heartland Senior Living branch, Parker Oaks, is also taking similar precautions with regard to visitation.

Members of the public who may have family members in these care facilities, who have questions or concerns, are welcome to call their local care centers.

Wells:

Clark Crossing and Parkview Care Center: 507-553-3115

Winnebago:

Parker Oaks Senior Living: 507-893-3171

Blue Earth:

St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center: 507-526-2184

Other resources the public is encouraged to contact if they have concerns about COVID-19 include the CDC at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus, the Minnesota Department of Health’s website at www.health.state.mn.us, and CMS’ website at www.cms.gov.