By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Country Side Living in Redmond has had healthy staff and residents throughout the pandemic, but they’re prepared to take even further precautions.
Outreach Coordinator Tiffani Schwarm says, “We go above and beyond for our residents and one thing I do know is our residents come first, and so if we can help them by being tested or facilitating their testing, then we would be happy to do that.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown announced a coronavirus testing plan, prioritizing the residents and staff of long-term facilities.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, it has been one of my top priorities to protect the residents and staff of long-term care facilities,” Brown said. “We took early and swift action to enact some of the strictest visitation policies in the country in the first days of Oregon’s outbreak. I know it has been incredibly hard for residents and their families to not be able to see their loved ones. But even with those protocols in place, the residents of long-term care facilities are particularly at high risk for serious illness and death due to this disease.”
Schwarm says she’s excited about the Governor’s plan, and hopes it will get Country Side one step closer to allowing visitors again.
“Social engagement is really important in senior living, and so we know that’s very very important,” Schwarm said. “And yeah, we’re open to doing whatever we need to do and we’re very excited too.”
The governor’s plan calls for:
- Conducting active daily screenings for fever and COVID-like symptoms for all residents and staff, providing testing for any residents or staff with even mild symptoms. Residents who test positive should be isolated.
- Providing testing for all staff every month on a staggered weekly basis, with the goal of having 25% of all staff tested each week over the course of the month.
- Providing testing for all residents and staff if there is a single new confirmed or suspected resident case or a confirmed staff case, and retesting weekly until at least 14 days pass without a new positive result. Residents who test positive and are symptomatic should be isolated.
- Testing all new residents prior to admission or readmission, including transfers from hospitals or other health care facilities. Even new residents who test negative should be quarantined for 14 days.
Leslie Koc is a resident at Touchmark Senior Living in Bend.
She finds it encouraging that high-risk populations are being prioritized.
“I believe that it’s an important thing for us to focus on,” Koc said. “I think the state has been very successful so far, and this will just take us up another notch.”
Koc says with phase two in place and more staff socializing outside of work, she believes it’s the right time for more testing.
Before this plan can happen, Brown says agencies need to initiate a communication strategy, as well as update testing guidelines.