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Update: April 8, 2020, 4PM 

Visitor Restrictions Continue

Governor Walz announced today that he is extending a statewide stay-at-home order to May 4 as part of an effort to reduce or delay the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota. Current federal and state government guidelines to restrict visitors to long-term care facilities remain in effect in order to protect residents in those facilities and limit the spread of COVID-19. This means that restrictions on visitors will remain in place for ACR Homes and Arthur’s Senior Care; visitors are not allowed in ACR or Arthur’s homes other than those that are medically necessary.

We understand how difficult this ongoing restriction on visitors is for both you and your loved one. At the same time, we know that “social distancing” is the one thing we can all do to protect those who are most vulnerable and limit the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we work together to support the health and safety of everyone at ACR. Thank you for all of your creative efforts to continue to stay in touch from a distance and let your loved ones know that you are thinking of them!

 

Update: April 6, 2020, 4PM 

Practices in Place to Reduce Infection at ACR

As soon as Minnesota was declared to have community transmission of COVID-19, ACR Homes began implementing a number of additional infection control measures to help protect your loved ones and ACR staff. One key measure is that residents are staying home and visitors have been restricted. In addition, all staff entering the home are screened before each shift, and they have been implementing enhanced disinfection procedures and wearing washable masks while on shift to help prevent transmission of the virus. We have also adjusted staffing patterns to limit the possible spread of the virus between staff and residents and between homes, and staff are not leaving the home for in-store shopping and then returning to shift. Residents are being closely monitored for any symptoms or changes in health. We are carefully following guidelines from the Minnesota Dept. of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus.

 What to Expect: Respiratory Symptoms and Suspected and Positive COVID-19 Notifications

Should ACR residents or staff show symptoms of COVID-19, the MDH has directed that providers like ACR will have first priority for testing. With that in mind, we also know that the people we support are more prone to respiratory and other illnesses that often look similar to COVID-19. Since individuals in congregate care are top priority for COVID testing according to the MDH, we assume it will be frequent that the people we support will be tested. In those circumstances we will be escalating our already significant infection control procedures with increased PPE (Personal Protective Equipment such as masks, gowns, goggles and gloves) and sanitation procedures and will be isolating the individual involved if they are still at the home. In such cases we expect that often hospitalization will have already occurred. All staff and residents will continue to be screened for symptoms. Staff showing symptoms will follow MDH guidelines for when they can work/return to work. If a person we support is being tested his/her guardian will be notified of the testing and other guardians will be notified as soon as possible upon a positive test result of housemates or staff. The MDH will also be notified and will assign an MDH professional to follow up directly with that home to guide best practices. Please direct any questions or concerns related to this process to the Program Director of your loved one’s home.

Washable Masks Recommended for Personal Use

We are also recommending to staff that they wear their own washable masks outside of work to further slow the transmission of the virus per CDC recommendations. We hope you are doing the same. To that end, here are some do-it-yourself tips from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Sewing PPE

Over 60 volunteers have been sewing washable masks and isolation gowns to help keep the people we support and our staff safe.  So far, volunteers have sewn almost 1200 washable masks and a few hundred washable gowns, with more on the way. Research has shown that wearing a washable mask can contain droplets, and also keep a person from touching their face which will help reduce the spread of the virus. Staff began wearing masks before the CDC recommendation was published, and there is definitely a feeling of camaraderie amongst the staff as they adjust to this change. The people we support are adjusting to seeing their staff behind masks too, sometimes with really great responses!  Staff feel supported and encouraged by the time and commitment that volunteers are investing to sew washable PPE.  We are so grateful!  If you would like to volunteer to sew, contact Deb Nygaard at deb.nygaard@acrhomes.com

Meanwhile, life goes on at ACR Homes

We hope you’ve been receiving updates of all the activities going on in our homes since residents have been staying home. Last week’s live online bingo was a huge hit, and residents and staff are looking forward to a live online talent show this week. Staff are also starting up virtual visits by some friendly ACR dogs who will be making online appearances to brighten the days of our residents.

 

Update: March 27, 2020, 10AM 

Further Restrictions on ACR’s visitor policy in light of Exec. Order 20-20:

In light of the Governor’s Executive Order 20-20 directing Minnesotans to stay at home and limit movements outside of their home beyond essential needs, ACR, in consultation with its attorney, has been advised that it must comply with the Governor’s order by further limiting ACR‘s policy on visitors.

Therefore, as of today, March 27, our policy will be that we will not allow any visitors to the home other than those that are medically necessary. Those guardians who had been taking their loved ones home for extended periods of time will no longer be able to move their loved one back and forth between their family home and ACR. Families and guardians will have the choice to do virtual visits or to take their family member home for the duration of the shelter at home order. If you choose to take your family member home for the duration of the shelter at home order you must pick him/her up by 9 p.m. tonight. We are implementing this policy change in order to protect the vulnerable people we support.

We understand how difficult this can be for you to keep a distance from your loved one at such a time as this when your natural tendency is to move towards them rather than to stay away. But we are hearing over and over that “social distancing” is the one thing we can all do to limit the spread of COVID-19 and help keep those who are most vulnerable safe. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we work together to support the health and safety of everyone at ACR.

 

Update: March 25, 2020, 4PM 

New “Stay At Home” directive from Governor Walz: Gov. Tim Walz issued an new executive order on 3/25/20 asking Minnesotans to stay in their homes unless necessary. This is to allow additional time for the state to build additional ICU and ventilator capacity should it be needed.  Essential workers will still need to work including healthcare workers, first responders and certain other essential employees.  Not much will need to change at ACR Homes. Our employees are all considered essential healthcare workers who will continue to support residents of ACR. Additionally, everyone can still get out for health and safety needs as well as necessary supplies and services.

Can you help sew washable surgical masks? If you have a sewing machine, we would welcome your help in sewing washable surgical masks. Our idea is to give each ACR staff a cloth mask to add a layer of protection for both staff and residents while also conserving N95 masks for higher risk situations. If you want to join the email group for instructions on how to do it, please email deb.nygaard@acrhomes.com .

Continue to raise awareness with your legislators: ACR joins ARRM in urging everyone to continue to raise awareness with your state legislators regarding the urgent need for funding and flexibility to support services for people with disabilities during this current crisis. In addition, many of the efforts to support health care do not specifically take into account the needs of people in group homes. DHS is working to ensure that the need for PPE (personal protective equipment) in group homes does not get overlooked. Please also raise awareness with your legislators around this lack of PPE for ACR’s homes.

 “Snail Mail” Encouraged! You know how much your loved one enjoys receiving mail in the mail box. Do your part to give residents and staff something to look forward when the postman arrives!

Our incredible ACR direct care staff and supervisors are working hard to keep ACR’s residents cared for, celebrated, and safe. Please continue to stay home and support them in their efforts!

Please check back-we will continue to provide updates here once or twice a week as needed. Thank you for your ongoing support for the residents at ACR!

 

Update: March 23, 2020, 2PM 

We want to send a huge thank you to guardians and family members of ACR’s residents for your understanding and support for the “no visitors” policy that was implemented last week in response to the MDH directive to restrict visitors in long term care facilities.

We are mindful of how hard it can be for you to keep a distance from your loved ones at such a time as this when your natural tendency may be to move towards them rather than to stay away.  But we are hearing over and over that “social distancing” is a key strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19. It is the one thing we can all do to help keep those who are most vulnerable safe. So thank you again for your understanding and cooperation!

Here are some additional strategies we have implemented to protect our residents and staff:

  • Our staff are working in small teams to limit possible spread between staff and between homes
  • We are using virtual meetings and appointments as much as possible
  • Disinfection strategies are going strong in every home and we have heightened training on infection control for staff
  • We have teams of people ensuring that each home is stock up on supplies of all kinds

A sewing brigade of friends and family of ACR are making washable surgical masks, with the goal of giving every ACR staff a mask to help prevent spread of the virus between staff and residents

ACR’s “fun department” is also launching all kinds of creative ideas and interactive activities through ACR’s Facebook groups. We hope you are able to stay in touch with your loved one electronically and are receiving updates and photos of what he/she has been up to in the past week. Among the fun do-it-from-home activities was a Facebook post yesterday in which 12 residents and their staff submitted photos to spell out the message, “All human life is intrinsically valuable. Please stay home! ~ACR”  It was a huge hit and has been shared more than 80 times.

Our incredible ACR direct care staff and supervisors are working hard to keep ACR’s residents cared for, celebrated, and safe. Please continue to stay home and support them in their efforts!

Please check back-we will continue to provide updates here once or twice a week as needed. Thank you for your ongoing support for the residents at ACR!

 

 

Update: March 17, 2020, 3:45pm 

We are closely monitoring the changing situation and complying with public health guidance regarding the current status of COVID-19 in Minnesota. We are so grateful for the way our employees are rising to the occasion to ensure that our residents are continuing to receive the care they need!

We want to reassure you that ACR’s homes are likely to have lower risk than most anywhere else due to our sanitation and universal precautions practices. We are working hard to help “flatten the curve” and slow the spread to those among us who may be more vulnerable, including the residents of ACR Homes, so that our healthcare system can keep up with the needs of those few who require hospital level care. Hospitals are already very busy with patients who have the seasonal flu and related illnesses at this time of year and their capacity is limited.

To that end we are making to following changes in all ACR homes, effective immediately under otherwise noted:

  • Visitors restricted beginning at 7AM, Wednesday, March 18.  ACR’s homes will no longer allow visitors in our homes including guardians unless they are coming to work on a planned basis in place of staff or to take their loved one home for an extended period of time. This restriction includes therapists, contractors, and non-essential ACR staff. We recommend that family and friends stay in touch with their loved ones by phone, Skype, Facetime and social media—we have asked our staff to do their best to assist with communication.  This restriction on visitors also applies to live-in staff with the exception of childcare. Exceptions will be made for symptom-free individuals in end of life situations.
  • Temp checks and screening questions: All persons entering ACR’s homes must do a temp check upon arrival on shift and answer a list of screening questions.
  • All out-of-home activities are cancelled or severely restricted. Staff will assist residents in enjoying leisure activities in the home and stay connected!
  • Non-essential appointments: The house RS has conferred with the RN and will be talking to you about cancelling all non-essential appointments.
  • Staff are disinfecting commonly touched areas at least twice a day in our homes, assisting residents with social distancing of six feet, and minimizing closer interactions as much as possible. ACR’s main office is also disinfecting commonly touched areas daily and following social distance recommendations.
  • Workplace flexibility:  As staffing needs require it, staff who are students will be allowed to do homework or online classes on shift, and staff who are working long shifts and have a dog from an approved breed may be allowed to bring their dog (and a crate) to shift as well. In addition, ACR administrative and maintenance staff, nurses and program directors are preparing to assist with direct care staffing as needed.
  • HIPAA and the ADA:  To protect privacy and confidentiality of both residents and staff, it is ACR’s policy that staff should not respond to inquiries about residents or staff from people outside the Company, unless staff have been directed to do so. For questions about your own family member/loved one you may communicate with staff or supervisor as you normally would.
  • We are telling staff to continue to be diligent about sanitation/handwashing and universal precautions in their personal life to prevent the spread of viruses. These are the same practices we are already using right now in our homes during cold and flu season which are known to reduce to spread of respiratory viruses.
  • If you receive positive test results let the house supervisor know right away if you have visited the house in the previous two weeks. 

We will continue to provide updates here as needed. Thank you for your ongoing support for the residents at ACR!