COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information

A Message for our Families

(Updated October 20, 2021)

During these unprecedented times, please know that there is nothing more important to us than the health and safety of your loved ones in our care.

We are doing everything in our control to provide our residents a safe and comfortable environment. We have implemented daily cleanings, restricted visitors to our centers, are monitoring residents at every shift, and our staff is engaged in aggressive infection prevention strategies.

As states move forward with re-opening phases and policies, we remain committed to helping families stay connected with their loved ones. We continue to follow all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and state Departments of Public Health, Indoor visits are now possible, following the guidance and directives of CMS and our state DPH. Please contact the center and we will assist in scheduling a visit. We also encourage you to visit the center’s Facebook page or the news section of the website for additional updates.

We know this is a difficult time. We care deeply about our residents and staff, and appreciate your understanding. Please contact us with any questions or concerns. We know we can get through this – together.

Visitation

As you know, public health officials, in the states our centers are located in, had restricted nursing home visitors from March through late September. Although we are now able to offer indoor visits following the guidance of CMS and state DPH, our staff is committed to ensuring families can continue to connect with their loved one in our homes both virtually and with social distancing, outside visits. Please contact the appropriate center and we will make sure you are able to speak with your family member in our care. This is a priority for us.

We are pleased to welcome our families and friends back into our centers after a long pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Weather permitting, outside visitation remains an option, as well as our always available virtual visitation through tablet devices.

Please see our reminders about visitation:

  • Visitors are still required to complete our COVID-19 screening process, completing our screening questions for COVID-19 and confirm no exposure to others with COVID-19 infection during the prior 14 days prior to a visit.
  • Visitors and residents (as they are able to do so) must wear a face mask for the duration of their visit.
  • Unvaccinated residents must quarantine for up to 14 days. These residents may only have window visits and compassionate care visits during this time. We continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated immediately.
  • Any center that is experiencing an “Outbreak,” one or more positive cases of COVID-19 among staff or residents, is required to pause and limit their visitation while mandatory testing takes place.

Vaccinations

To protect all residents, staff, and others in our communities from the known and substantial risks of COVID-19, Athena Health Care Systems and its managed centers have strongly advocated and educated our staff, residents and their families to become vaccinated. We also strongly advocate for the vaccination of all health care personnel. COVID-19 vaccines protect health care personnel when working both in health care facilities and in the community. They provide strong protection against workers unintentionally carrying the disease to work and spreading it to patients and co-workers.

As required by state and federal mandates, all nursing home employees, volunteers, and contractors are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or meet

Two types of employee exemptions can be implemented: medical and religious exemptions. As of October, our facilities must ensure that all personnel (including non-direct care staff) are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless:

  • Administration is medically contraindicated, which means administration of COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be detrimental to the individual’s health, or
  • The individual objects to vaccination based on a sincerely held religious belief and the individual is able to perform their essential job functions with a reasonable accommodation that is not an undue burden on the nursing home.

Employees may not otherwise decline the vaccine.

As a reminder – if your loved one is not yet vaccinated, please contact their center to schedule a vaccine. Booster shots are currently being administered to our residents.

Health Departments

Check with your local authority for more information
Connecticut
Connecticut
Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Rhode Island
Rhode Island
US CDC
US CDC

Ongoing Safety

We take cleanliness and ensuring a safe environment for our residents very seriously, and our policies and the practices at our centers reflect that.  Every center is frequently and thoroughly cleaned by professional staff. We have aggressive infection prevention strategies which are exercised by all of our staff.  Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, our infection prevention efforts are at an even more heightened level. We have stepped up our typical cleaning and disinfecting schedule that would be in place during the regular flu season, requiring more frequent surface cleaning on high contact areas and other strategies.

These efforts are enhancements to guidelines and recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for institutions like ours. At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, we initiated a series of protections aimed at mitigating the threat of the pandemic at our centers.  These included: 

  • Restricting visitors to the building;
  • Requiring anyone entering the center to complete a health questionnaire and have their temperature taken;
  • Increasing monitoring of all residents at every shift;
  • Our staff are trained in steps to minimize the spread of airborne illnesses when providing care and have received additional training and reinforcement;
  • Athena centers employ an in-house “Infection Preventionist,” an in-house, specially trained clinician responsible for implementing our infection prevention policies and procedures, as well as training staff on these policies and procedures. These specialists also conduct audits to ensure staff are following proper protocols, especially related to hand hygiene, personal protective equipment use, and cough etiquette.
  • Our centers follow CDC, CMS, and our state Department of Health’s  recommended schedule and guidelines for testing our residents and staff for COVID-19.
  • All new admissions to our center are screened for COVID-19 and appropriately placed.
  • While the acquisition of PPE has been a struggle since the beginning of this pandemic, we have an appropriate amount of the necessary PPE to safely operate our center, care for our residents, and protect our staff.

We continue to follow the guidance of the state regulators and have taken additional steps to protect our residents.  The Coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation.  Please consult the CDC Coronavirus website, or your state’s Department of Public Health.  These are the authorities with the most up-to-date information.

We understand this is a difficult time for our residents and their families, but there is no greater priority for us than their health and safety of our residents and staff.  We are doing everything in our control to provide our residents a safe and comfortable environment.

Our staff is committed to making sure families are able to connect with their loved one in our homes.  Please contact us and we will make sure you are able to speak with your family member in our care.

Media Inquiries:

Tim Brown
Director of Marketing & Communications
Athena Health Care Systems
TBrown@AthenaHealthCareSystems