Signature HealthCARE issues statement regarding COVID-19 infection, steps taken since

Posted November 18, 2020 at 4:11 pm

[Editor’s note: The Clinton County News reached out to the parent company of Clinton County Care & Rehabilitation regarding the recent infection of COVID-19 that has moved through the long term facility located in Albany.

The following is the statement issued to the Clinton County News, from Ann Bowdan Wilder, Media/PR/Communications Manager of Signature HealthCARE, regarding the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the steps taken recently in regards to the recent outbreak in the Albany facility.]

Signature HealthCARE: As Numbers Rise, Our Proactive Fight Continues

Louisville, Ky.-November 17, 2020-

Over the past several months, Signature HealthCARE’s Clinton County Care & Rehabilitation Center has taken a proactive and aggressive approach against the Coronavirus and its related illness, COVID-19. That preparedness mandated being ready not for “if”, but “when” our facility faced confirmed COVID-19 exposures.

While we have been grateful that our facility has had only one positive resident case during the past several months, we are prepared as Clinton County Care & Rehabilitation Center now confirms additional positive cases.

The rising numbers of Coronavirus cases in the Clinton County community, and its impact, is a daunting reminder of the virulence of COVID-19 and our world’s daily battle with this pandemic. Clinton County Care & Rehab understands the fear and concern that comes with those rising numbers.

However, our facility and staff continue to work diligently to fight the virus’ spread, even in times of increased cases within the community, with aggressive testing and proactive protocols outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the state.

Currently, we have 45 residents who have tested positive. Clinton County Care & Rehab is committed to providing the best care possible for its residents, and for that reason, at the onset of the confirmation of these positive cases, we transitioned some of our residents who tested positive to nearby sister facilities that have an established COVID-19 only Care Unit.

We are thankful for our local Clinton County Emergency Response Team, who graciously provided a specially equipped bus and EMS personnel to transport these residents to these units. The bus was labeled with the wording “Mass Casualty” and could falsely cause alarm to those uninformed. Please know, this was not a mass casualty situation by definition or circumstance. This just so happened to be the best and most immediate source of transportation for some of our positive residents needing care in a COVID-19 only unit.

The Clinton County Emergency Response Team bus was staffed at all times by EMS personnel from Clinton County, wearing the proper PPE, and was fully equipped with medical supplies and amenities. The transport of those positive residents started Wednesday afternoon, and went smoothly.

Following this initial course of action, Clinton County Care and Rehab created its own COVID-19 only Care Unit within the facility to house some of the remaining positive residents. Signature HealthCARE has created almost four-dozen COVID-19 only Care Units in its facilities nationwide with the acknowledgment of the CDC. All of our COVID-19 only Care Units, including the unit at Clinton County Care and Rehab, are isolated with barrier systems in place, separating the unit from the rest of the facility, with separate supplies, food, its own entrance, and dedicated staff who work on the COVID unit only. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided and worn per CDC guidelines. In creating these units, Signature HealthCARE has consulted with its infectious disease physician and nurse consultants.

If at any time a physician determines a resident needs a higher level of care, they will be treated at one of our partnering hospitals. Clinton County Care and Rehab also knows this virus pandemic changes daily and there are many asymptomatic persons in our Kentucky communities and in Clinton County at large, who remain untested, virus carriers, that can affect us all.

As you follow the COVID crisis closely in your reporting, we are sure you are aware of the information on the challenge of contact tracing. At this point, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint the source of the spread, and it would be irresponsible for us to do otherwise, in large part because our residents still go out to hospitals for appointments or other medical needs, stay several days, and return –which is a potential source.

In doing so, ambulance personnel are involved in the transport, who encounter persons in the general public every day; another potential source.

It is also important to note that under the mandates of many states, including Kentucky, any resident who is COVID-19 positive at the time of their passing, regardless of their official cause of death, is automatically counted by state and government officials as a “COVID-19 Death”. This is an important detail that many media outlets are aware of, but do not share with their viewer ship.

To date, we have had three of our beloved residents who were COVID positive at the time of their passing. The loss of any of our residents, no matter the reason, is nothing short of devastating and truly saddens us all. Clinton County Care & Rehab’s fight against the transmission of this virus started early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. Signature employed a facility-wide testing strategy at select facilities, testing all residents and staff when the first COVID-19 positive case surfaced.

This strategy came highly recommended by Signature’s infectious disease physicians as a way to quickly identify the scope of the virus in a facility, knowing that positive persons can be asymptomatic. Signature’s approach was applauded by the CDC before being mandated by CMS or the State of Kentucky.

Currently, Clinton County Care & Rehab tests facility staff weekly, per regulatory mandates. In addition to the above-mentioned measures, perhaps the most important is the communication with our residents, their responsible parties and/or legal guardians, and staff to keep them updated and informed. The responsible parties for each of our residents have been called and those affected the most by the upcoming transfers were the first to know about this decision.

Each resident’s individual goals, preferences, and needs have remained as a top priority in every discussion, and the ultimate choice to transfer to one of our nearby sister facilities or elsewhere was 100% up to the resident, and if needed, their responsible party, always. In addition, a family hotline has been created to provide updated information to our resident’s responsible parties. Many families and stakeholders have responded positively in relation to our efforts.

Clinton County Care & Rehab wants to let our residents, families, and staff know that we continue to strive in taking every precaution possible and in following the strict guidelines of the CDC and other controlling government agencies.

Those guidelines include, but are not limited to, screening all stakeholders and residents daily for symptoms of the virus, utilizing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves and masks, and currently restricting facility visitation in accordance with federal and state guidelines.

In this COVID-19 climate, we must continue to mandate, per government instruction, that our families continue in this restricted protocol. It is of the utmost importance for the protection of your loved one. We know remaining physically distant from loved ones has been difficult for all.

There’s nothing like personal interaction. But we are thankful and appreciate that most of our families have understood our restrictions on visitation, and in fact, welcome them and have asked us to keep those protections in place.

In the meantime, we continue to keep our residents engaged and their families connected by using many other forms of communication which include iPads, iPhones, FaceTime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Telehealth, as well as window visits and the mailing of cards and letters.

In this fight, we also ask that our community remain vigilant about this virus as well. We are in this fight together, and it is imperative that our community observe the social distancing guidelines and the wearing of masks within our communities to help contain the spread of this virus to our loved ones.

We would like to say, “THANK YOU” for all of the encouraging cards, emails, lunches, snacks, gifts and other items the community has sent to our facility. Please keep them coming! All are noticed and greatly appreciated by residents and our staff. Please note, at this time, we are unable to facilitate a Skype or phone interview.

As you can understand, our staff is focused on their responsibilities and critical efforts in this pandemic and committed to priority number one, which is continuing to be proactive and vigilant in fighting this virus.