Safety first and virus-free: Cape May credits dedicated staff, early implementation of best practices

Cape May credits staff, early implementations

By John Hamilton -

WILMINGTON — A staff dedicated to safety and early implementation of many safety guidelines are keeping local seniors at Ohio Living Cape May safe during these times.

Executive Director Brad Reynolds gives credit to “the outstanding work of our staff and lots of prayers” as the senior living facility remains COVID virus-free to date.

“We’ve had a few situations where an employee or health care resident was tested for the virus (all negative), but so far, we’ve been blessed,” said Reynolds.

He also credits them acting more quickly “than most other organizations to stop all visitations” into the facility and implementing specific operational restrictions.

But the staff remains the biggest factor in their success.

“For me, the most important factor was the consistent dedication and perseverance of our staff to promptly implement all rapidly changing protocols ensuring resident and employee health,” he said.

While many businesses will start re-opening soon, Cape May will still be operating as they currently are.

“Facilities like ours will be the last to open even a little bit given the nature of our population and business,” he said. “We’ll still be following the same safe practices that have kept us virus-free to date.”

Reynolds said they’ve been “blessed as well” by the number of individuals and organizations who have donated personal protection equipment to Cape May.

“It’s apparent that we have some very talented local friends who know their way around a sewing machine, as they have supplied us with hundreds of cloth hand-sewn masks,” he said.

Safety and a smile

As far as ongoing communications to residents, staff and families — and what they’re doing to meet resident needs as well as maintaining staff morale — Reynolds schedule at Ohio Living Cape May consists of: a 90-second phone call update at 10:45 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; an employee update at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and doing written updates at least every other week.

The culinary department runs a “traveling coffee shop” from a cart for staff and all independent resident floors. Two staff members held a “beauty shop day” in residents’ rooms for the men and women who wanted a haircut.

The Activities department has done over 130 window visits and e-visits (like Skype) with families. Culinary has been delivering meal trays to every independent living apartment resident, usually twice per day.

Letters have been sent to all staff families thanking them for “sharing their loved one with us during this crisis.” Residents have also made handwritten thank you cards for every staff member.

While the last couple of months have been “unprecedented and painful,” Reynolds stated he also believes it has brought positive changes to “all of us as individuals, families, and organizations.”

“It’s been one of my greatest pleasures to watch our staff pull together in a time of crisis and focus on keeping everyone in the Cape May family safe and healthy,” he said. “The key message at this point is we can’t let up. Our greater community has to persevere and keep each other, and our families virus-free.”

He hopes he’s wrong; he’s fearful of what could happen as businesses resume and people begin to move about more freely.

“Don’t be fooled — this virus hasn’t gone away. As care providers for older adults and others most vulnerable to this illness, the marathon has just begun. Letting our guard down is not an option — not now and not in the near future,” he said.

Safety measures

Just a few of the Ohio Living Cape May safety measures implemented early include:

• No visitors are permitted in any level of care; family members can visit with a resident through a window but must stay 6 feet apart if the window is open.

• All staff must enter the building only through the employee entrance. They then take their temperature, answer a few questions on a form, and wash their hands before entering the building.

• Anyone who comes into the building (physicians, mail carriers, etc.) must enter the building through a single entrance. Anyone entering the lobby area must have their temperature taken, answer seven health-related questions, and wash their hands.

• Activities have been reorganized so Assisted Living residents only interact with other Assisted Living residents, etc.

Special health care providers such as home health nurses/aides from a non-Ohio Living company are permitted to serve IL residents if they are indeed providing health care services. Someone coming in to just provide companionship or homemaker services (for example, shopping) is not permitted access.

• Staff is grocery shopping for Assisted Living and Independent Living apartment residents as well as picking up prescriptions if the pharmacy doesn’t deliver. Medications delivered by a pharmacy are dropped at the front desk and staff takes them to the resident.

• Three rooms in health care have been set aside for possible COVID patients or any referrals. Anyone coming into Cape May now will be quarantined for 14 days. The three rooms are negative pressure rooms. photos photos
Cape May credits staff, early implementations

By John Hamilton