Owners of Whisperwood nursing home answer questions about COVID-19 outbreak

Owners of Whisperwood nursing home answer questions about COVID-19 outbreak
Whisperwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, quarantined by City of Lubbock, April 2020. (Source: KCBD Video)

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - We’re learning new details from the management company that owns Whisperwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Lubbock about the COVID-19 outbreak at that facility.

This, as the City of Lubbock released updated numbers of COVID-19 cases Friday evening.

Of the 138 total cases in Lubbock County, 50 are associated with a nursing home. A large portion of those 50 are connected to Whisperwood in particular.

Earlier this week, KCBD compiled a list of questions and submitted them to the management company. Many of the questions came from the public, from phone calls, voicemails, emails and Facebook messages.

On Friday, the company which owns Whisperwood, Creative Solutions in Healthcare, Inc., responded to every question, along with an open letter to the public, which you can see below.

QUESTION: When were staff at Whisperwood first made aware that a person infected with COVID19 had been in the facility?

ANSWER: On 3/24/20, a Whisperwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center employee notified us they had tested positive for COVID-19. This staffer had not been in the building since 3/20, at which time they were asymptomatic. Over the weekend, symptoms began, and the staffer sought a test. A second staffer also tested positive that same day. Upon notification of those results, we responded immediately, by directing all staff on-site to immediately begin wearing masks. As staff arrived for shifts, they were notified individually of the need to wear masks. It was determined this person-to-person notification would best serve the needs of all staff, as not everyone has access to an email.

QUESTION: When were residents and their families made aware of the above information?

ANSWER: Residents and / or families were notified by facility staff either verbally or by phone or message left that 2 employees had tested positive for the coronavirus.

QUESTION: Is there documentation verifying that residents and their families were properly notified?

ANSWER: The notifications are noted on each resident’s chart.

QUESTION: Has a liaison been identified to communicate to the families going forward?

ANSWER: The Administrator and DON have provided their cell phone numbers to all residents and families who can call for individualized information as needed.

We are also encouraging families to take advantage of the different ways they can keep in touch with their loved ones in our facilities, using FaceTime, smart phone communication apps, and so on.

QUESTION: Did you and to what degree share employees between the five owned facilities in Lubbock County?

ANSWER: As is common across the healthcare industry, we have part-time and temporary employees who work in more than one of the facilities we manage, and we also have staff who work in other healthcare clinics, hospitals, etc. All healthcare providers have adapted to the shortage of healthcare workers that has been our reality for several years now. We are grateful for these dedicated men and women who view their work as a calling, and we are willing to accommodate their need for flexible work hours.

QUESTION: Was there a staffing shortage that the employees were made aware that they had been exposed to COVID-19?

ANSWER: There are some staffers who have declined to return to work during the COVID-19 outbreak, however there are others who have decided to ‘shelter in place’ at the facility during this time as well.

QUESTION: How many employees have been tested?

ANSWER: The Health Department has been highly involved in the criteria used to select who has been tested. It would be our desire to test everyone in the facility, however we cannot mandate that it be done, and we continue to work with all local, state and federal agencies to ensure all protocols are in place.

QUESTION: Was staff supplied with appropriate protective gear at all times?

ANSWER: Yes. To be clear and separate rumor from fact; to preserve our limited supply of PPE which was needed for care of residents on droplet precautions, staff providing care to residents not on droplet precautions nor symptomatic, did use homemade masks for a short period of time until additional supplies were received.

An Open Letter to Our Extended Whisperwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Family

Twenty years ago, Creative Solutions in Healthcare embarked on a mission to provide a safe and nurturing environment for individuals in need of nursing home care. During this time, it has been our privilege to serve our residents and their families. Many of these residents are also part of what has come to be known as ‘The Greatest Generation’, resilient and resourceful men and women who persevered through some of the most difficult times our country has ever known.

Today, we find ourselves enduring a challenge unlike any our own generation has ever known and we are tirelessly at work to persevere. Since the first week of March, we have been closely monitoring development of the coronavirus pandemic and working to mitigate its impact on our residents, staff, their families and our community.

The first notification to staff about the impending coronavirus threat was issued on March 6th, with recommendations for immediate changes to our protocols regarding all aspects of operations. On March 10th, more stringent guidelines were imposed regarding restricting family and visitor access to our facility. We implemented health checks of all individuals entering our facilities. These guidelines met, and in some cases, exceeded recommendations and mandates by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and all federal, state and local agencies. We have maintained regular communication with all facility directors, who have quickly implemented requested changes and communications these to staff. Some of these changes include the following:

  • Health and respiratory screening all residents for symptoms of COVID-19 twice a day.
  • Daily health screening of all staff for symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival
  • Social distancing is in practice throughout our facility.
  • All visitors and volunteers are prohibited from entering the building. Communication between our residents and visitors is being facilitated using smart phone and iPad video chat technology.
  • No community dining. Residents are served in their rooms, with exceptions for those who require assistance.
  • Snack and hydration carts are deployed to rooms to ensure residents can enjoy their favorite treats.
  • All laundry is now done by the facility, to ensure all CDC guidelines are followed
  • Housekeeping is enhanced in all high touchpoint and resident use areas.
  • Rehab services – no group rehab is going on, only one-on-one.
  • Our corporate office has employed new systems to ensure all additional monitoring and reporting from facilities can be effectively tracked.

The challenges we now encounter in the face of Covid-19 are unlike anything we have known in our time. Creative Solutions in Healthcare, Corp. will rise to that challenge with the same commitment and resolve we have always demonstrated for those entrusted to our care.

We are inspired daily by our remarkable residents and staff. We do not take for granted the stewardship of their well-being.

I remain in constant communication with our vendors to ensure our dedicated staff who are on the front lines of this fight, daily, have the protective equipment they need to stay safe and healthy. We will continue to create moments of connection for our residents during this time of social distancing and will continue to work to mitigate any threat to the health and wellness of our residents, staff and our community.

It is my firm belief we will all emerge from this challenge not only stronger, but perhaps also with a renewed sense of charity and purpose. Shaped for the better by adversity, like so many who came before us.

Gary Blake President and Co-Founder, Creative Solutions in Healthcare

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