Local Catholic institutions serving elderly following recommended precautions in wake of coronavirus
Mar 18, 2020
As Catholic parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Washington closed their doors or halted activities in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), Catholic-run organizations that serve populations particularly susceptible to the virus have also taken steps to slow down the spread of the virus.
At the Jeanne Jugan Residence operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor for the elderly poor in Washington, D.C., “We are doing our utmost to follow all the guidelines that are coming out from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) in conjunction with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines,” said Sister Constance Veit, communications director for her order in the United States.
“Our nursing director keeps track of all updates, which come out several times a day,” Sister Constance said. “We've had to curtail visitors and volunteers from coming in, but we are doing all we can so that residents don't get lonely or anxious.”
Sister Constance said that “no one on our staff and no one associated with our home has been affected” by the coronavirus. She said the sisters and staff “are keeping everyone as comfortable as possible and trying to keep everybody safe from this invisible enemy.”
The Little Sisters of the Poor are looking at establishing a Skype connection or other type of visual communication so that family members and residents can see each other as they speak, Sister Constance said. She added that “our nursing director and one of our sisters each called each resident's family member to let them know what is going on and to allay any fears.”
“We are doing a lot of praying. We (the sisters at the residence) and our elderly are praying for a quick end to this, as are our sisters around the world,” Sister Constance said.
Sacred Heart Home in Hyattsville, Maryland, a long-term care facility for the elderly, has instituted a strict policy in order to protect its residents from contracting the virus.
“We are surveilling our residents constantly, checking their temperatures twice a day and making sure residents are hand washing and hand sanitizing,” said Sister Vacha Kludziak, whose Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate religious community operates the home.
Sister Vacha, the home's administrator, added that “we are not allowing visitors whatsoever at this time and only essential staff is here.”
“We have canceled activities and are doing a daily very strict cleaning and disinfecting throughout the facility throughout the day,” Sister Vacha said.
In addition, doctors, therapists, contractors and vendors are also subject to screening, having their temperatures taken and surveyed about their recent contacts. They must also follow the protocols set in place for Sacred Heart Home residents.
Jackie Smedley, Victory Housing's senior vice president for assisted living operations, in an e-mail to the Catholic Standard, reported that “with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are incredibly focused on keeping our assisted living residents safe – implementing all CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) guidelines and requirements.”
Operated by the Archdiocese of Washington, Victory Housing provides affordable independent and assisted-living housing for moderate- and low-income senior citizens. It operates facilities in nearly 30 locations throughout the archdiocese.
Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, citing “an abundance of caution,” announced that it has closed its Medical Adult Day Care Center through March 31. The senior-focused activity center is being temporarily shuttered “with the well-being of our participants, families and colleagues in mind,” according to an announcement on the hospital's website.
The hospital, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, has also canceled all classes and community events through March 31 and has restricted visitors to the hospital to one per patient and no one under the age of 18.
Carroll Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, operated by the Daughters of Charity in Washington, D.C., on March 16 announced its updated protocols in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
A recorded message states that the center, “in order to keep your loved ones safe,” is restricting visitors; screening employees, visitors and residents; and limiting access to nonessential health care workers.
Carroll Manor also noted that due to the necessity at this time for “social distancing,” family and friends can contact loved ones there via phone, Facetime or Skype.