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Rochester Regional Health: Workers putting residents over self at nursing homes during outbreaks

One of the nursing homes operated by Rochester Regional Health here in the Finger Lakes saw the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

As of January 22 there had been 108 cases of COVID-19 among residents at DeMay Living Center in Newark. There were 72 total staff cases of the virus at this facility, which made the situation even more difficult to navigate. At Clifton Springs Nursing Home a total of 15 residents and 25 staff  have had the virus. Most of those staff have returned to work, and both facilities had reported fewer than 20 deaths as of this story.

However, COVID-19 made staffing a challenge — as the facility in Newark saw dozens of cases appear in a matter of days.

“One of the things that makes Rochester Regional Health special is our ability to collaborate and share resources across the system,” Colleen Rose said. She serves as VP of operations for Rochester Regional Health Long Term Care. “If one location is facing a challenge, we come together and address it however we can. We could not be more grateful to have staff members who put the needs of our residents first. Many have, and continue to, work long additional hours during this pandemic. Some staff members have even temporarily moved into different positions to address areas of need.”

Rose says that staff even too it upon themselves to work together and take on tasks that were not necessarily part of their formal job descriptions, which was a huge help. “Staff took it upon themselves to work together and take on tasks that were not necessarily in their formal job descriptions. The team approach was inspiring, uplifting, and absolutely vital during this time.”

For its part, Rochester Regional Health worked with facilities to adapt to changing regulatory guidance, community standards, and the needs of residents as they staff responded to the pandemic. “By standardizing our workflows and procedures, we can maintain a consistently high level of infection control, PPE optimization, resident cohorting, testing of residents and staff, and other elements critical to keeping nursing homes safe during these times,” Rose continued. “Our team is full of people who put the needs of others above their own every day, and our grateful organization is proud to support and empower them however we can.”

Another major point of emphasis, as it has related to response for families and the public – keeping people informed has been crucial, Rose said. “I can’t stress enough the importance of educating and updating our staff. Through online learning and on-the-spot teaching, we are able to quickly communicate emerging best practices and new approaches and standards, all while reinforcing the precautions proven to be effective throughout this pandemic,” she added.

To that end, Rochester Regional Health has kept interactive dashboards online throughout the pandemic for family and the community-at-large to monitor. With the sheer volume and prevalence of cases at long-term care facilities – the dashboards have helped them maintain trust. “Clear and reliable information has become especially important during the pandemic,” Rose said. “We created the online dashboard for each Rochester Regional Health long term care facility because we value transparency and want to make sure the loved ones of our residents have another easy way to access our updates. In addition to the online reporting, each Rochester Regional Health Long Term Care facility updates residents and families within 24 hours when a new case of COVID-19 appears in the nursing home. We also provide a weekly status update through an email and letter. The feedback from family members about those efforts has been positive.”

Check out the dashboards below:

Clifton Springs Nursing Home
DeMay Living Center

As for vaccine rollout – Rose said that due to state and federal guidance, they cannot share specifics about the progress. However, officials said that it has gone well, and efforts to educate and provide access have been aggressive. They are also working with Walgreens to provide additional vaccine clinics for staff and residents, some of which are in the process of receiving their second doses.