Hello Cottages Family!
This is Tom Kosman, Executive Director with The Cottages Assisted Living and Memory Care in Shawano, Oconto Falls and Marinette. I thank you for taking some time to join me to hopefully help answer some of your frequently asked questions and provide you some reassurance that we are all working together to ensure that our residents; their loved ones and our employees and their loved ones remain safe during the current National Emergency pertaining to COVID-19.
First of all; I want to assure you that everything being done at The Cottages is to adhere to CDC and WI Dept of Health Guidelines, and we are actively monitoring both staff and residents for any signs or symptoms of this infection. Our staff are trained to notify a member of management immediately if anything irregular is noticed so that we can immediately involve our local county health departments. If a resident is believed to be sick with this infection; we will make sure families are notified along with the county health department. At that point, we would be directed by the County Health Department as to the next steps for that particular person. Currently; we are screening our residents twice during the day; checking temperature and oxygen levels, as well as any change in condition, particularly a cough or sore throat. For our staff; we are requiring screening upon entry for everyone; asking specific questions about how they are feeling, who they have been in contact with and screening temperatures at the start of each shift. At this time we are asking all staff to only travel between home and work and to limit their contact with family. Any staff that suspect they may have been exposed will wear a mask at work.
Regarding visitors; our policy is per CDC and WI Dept. of Health Services (DHS) recommendations that we are at this time not allowing visitors unless there is an emergent need such as a hospice or end of life situations, or an emergency that requires additional medical support. We understand that this is likely the most difficult part of the isolation process. Because of this we have set up different ways to visit. All of our facilities are using our Google Chromebooks or iPads to conduct virtual visits. If you would like to set up a virtual visit; please call and speak to a member of management or the Activity Director at your facility and they will be happy to assist you. While this is not the ideal face to face connection we all want; it does help us get to see and talk with our loved ones in a safe way; which is absolutely essential during this crisis.
At this time, CDC and WI DHS are recommending the suspension of non-essential doctor visits or appointments either in our facilities or at outside clinics. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 is obviously greater when someone comes into our facility or leaves our facility. That being said; if someone does have to go out of our facility for any reason; until further notice per CDC recommendations, we would need to quarantine that person in their room for 14 days. We do advise that you speak to your facility director or Cottages RN if you are questioning this. All non-emergent appointments should be rescheduled for after April 30th.
As a regulated healthcare facility; our housekeeping and cleanliness is always a top priority; and this circumstance is a perfect opportunity for me to let you know that our staff are very conscientious of this and are making sure that our high standards of cleanliness continue on as we try to prevent this illness from affecting our residents or staff. We are even further increasing our illness prevention by limiting traffic especially in our kitchens and are not allowing any vendors in our building. All vendors are dropping off their delivery at our door; and our staff are then bringing those items inside. We have increased our hand sanitizer stations as well so even after this pandemic is over; we have even more ways for everyone to keep their hands clean. You should know that we have most of these precautions in place during flu season anyway, so much of this is normal practice for The Cottages staff.
At the recommendation of both the CDC and WI DHS; in our assisted living apartment or RCAC settings, we are suspending communal dining and group activities so all of our residents will be eating in their rooms. We understand that this is something nobody is happy about. We are proud of the socialization and bonding that takes place in our communities, but this is one of those times where it is appropriate for the safety and well-being of all; to limit social gatherings and practice safe social distancing. Our dietary and activity departments are working hard to think of new and creative ideas for mealtime and activities during this process. We are currently exploring options for our Memory Care facilities and likely will be engaging in small group meals and activities with more social distancing. It can be very difficult to make significant changes to the day for someone who has dementia so we are doing our best to juggle the intricacies that this disease presents with the recommendations we are receiving. Safety is our top priority and always will be.
I close with a promise that The Cottages is doing everything that we can to control and prevent the spread of this disease into our communities. Everything we are doing is for the safety and wellbeing of our residents; and our amazing and dedicated staff and their families. I am planning to start a weekly Facebook live event to provide updates and to offer a short Q/A session to help answer your questions as best as I can. Please check out our Facebook page for more information about this. My goal will also be to share with you some good lighthearted moments of the previous weeks. Our staff and residents are still doing fun things and we cannot forget to enjoy life and to have fun, even in times like these. From all of us at The Cottages; I thank you for entrusting us to provide care to so many people in our communities. We also thank you for the many well-wishes, treats, thoughts and prayers during this time and encourage you to continue to pray along with us that this situation is alleviated as quickly as possible with a minimal impact on our entire Cottages Family. Please know that you can always reach us and we are happy to help answer your questions and concerns. Below I have enclosed some links to the CDC and WI DHS websites, along with information about Zoom and Skype, which are two tools we are using for virtual visits; where you can find additional information about this disease as well as precautions we can all take to keep ourselves and families safe.
Thank you for your time and understanding and from all of us at The Cottages, God Bless!
Cottages Executive Director
Cottages General Manager