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Guest View: Care facilities taking COVID-19 threat seriously; so should you

By Susan Ayers, Charles City

On March 13, the Chautauqua facilities – and all other care facilities nationwide – were locked to visitors at the direction of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Communal dining and group activities were discontinued and we were asked to encourage residents to remain in their rooms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a serious threat to older adults (especially 80 years old and older) and those with underlying health conditions. This is why the federal government and many state governments are restricting visitors to nursing homes and assisted living communities. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for end-of-life visits.

Guest View: Care facilities taking COVID-19 threat seriously; so should you
Susan Ayers

We understand this is difficult, but the safety and well-being of the residents served is our top priority.

As of May 14, more than half of Iowa COVID-19 deaths were people who resided in long-term care facilities, and there are outbreaks in about 10% of the facilities in the state. The original guidelines remain in effect.

The Iowa Department of Public Health identifies specific long-term care facilities that are experiencing an outbreak by name and by county. If you question whether there is an outbreak in Floyd County, this information is easily available from IDPH at coronavirus.iowa.gov.

There is not an outbreak at either of the Chautauqua facilities at this time.

As an RN and administrator at Chautauqua for more than 25 years and the current infection preventionist, I am convinced that in Floyd County we are blessed with professional and caring health care providers who are constantly upgrading their knowledge and skills.

We meet jointly several times annually to discuss potential impacts such as COVID-19. Our group includes representatives of the hospital and clinic, public health, emergency management and all interested county facilities.

Comprehensive Systems has announced that they are experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19. They are one of our county partners and we consult frequently on care issues affecting all of us. I know they will handle this situation with proven recommended interventions and with the help of state experts, just as any of us would. I know that all other county providers would willingly help them in any way possible.

Our entire provider group, including Comprehensive Systems, consists of dedicated professionals with years of experience and longevity. The group understands the responsibilities of taking care of your friends and neighbors on a daily basis.

The best approach is for ALL of us to work together to continue social distancing and staying at home as possible. This approach is the best way to contain the spread of the virus within our community.

All of us understand how difficult current restrictions are. And we are all very concerned about the results of lifting these restrictions too soon.

We are doing our best to promote communication between residents and their loved ones. A laptop for each home donated by the local Rotary Club is an example of an approach. A new “looking glass” window at Riverside is another example.

Regarding mask use, there are two different purposes for masks. The first is to protect yourself and the second is to protect others. To protect yourself, you need a medical procedure mask. To protect others, you may use a cloth sewn mask.

Health professionals use the medical mask to protect themselves when working with individuals who are potentially infected. We all are encouraged to wear cloth masks when not at home to protect others from us. The more people that wear masks, the greater the number of persons protected when gathering occurs.

I have no doubts that all health care providers join you in hoping this pandemic emergency is over soon and life returns to normal (whatever that new normal is). But until that occurs, please continue to wash your hands, practice social distancing, and stay at home when you are sick. In public, wear a mask that covers your nose and your mouth and avoid touching your face.

Respect our visiting policies and procedures and, if you get a chance, thank our staff for all their efforts.

I am confident in assuring you that the health care providers in Floyd County will do everything in their power to help you remain healthy and/or in caring for you in your time of need. And we will all do that with professional skill, an eye toward quality, a caring attitude, and a prayer for healing.

Together we can responsibly attack this emergency and emerge stronger.

— Susan Ayers is a co-owner and former administrator at the Chautauqua Guest Homes in Charles City. She is also a registered nurse.

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