By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(Aug. 6, 2020) Local assisted living facilities have created new approaches to help their residents and families stay connected despite all the social distancing restrictions.
Pamela Schaffer and her brother Steven Bloyd, who own Catered Living in Ocean Pines and Chesapeake Manor Assisted Living in Willards, Maryland, have taken safety precautions, such as prohibiting visitors inside the facilities, to maintain the health of their residents.
Schaffer said residents at her facilities stayed connected to family members via FaceTime in the beginning.
“Another way is a lot of family members started bringing chairs and sitting outside of their windows,” Schaffer said. “We just were cleared by the State of Maryland to allow the family members and the residents to visit outside six feet apart.”
At Catered Living, residents and their family members visit underneath a pergola while maintaining the required distance of at least six feet.
There are two facilities at Catered Living, each which accommodates 16 residents.
No residents at Catered Living, 1135 Ocean Parkway, have contracted the coronavirus, Schaffer added.
“Temperatures are taken,” Schaffer said. “We do everything we can to protect the residents.”
Director Tracy Creek added that weekly testing for coronavirus is being conducted. At this time, all the tests have been negative.
According to Catered Living’s website, residents receive three homemade meals daily, assistance with daily activities and medication management and administration.
Housekeeping and laundry services are offered as well.
The monthly fee also includes emergency on-call system, cable television, activity programming, transportation, kitchenette with refrigerators in each room, snacks, handicapped accessible baths in each room.
The Woodlands of Ocean Pines, which is located next to Catered Living on Ocean Parkway, is an independent and assisted living condominium community that offers medication management and disbursement, three meals a day plus snacks, activities, cleaning of apartments twice a week and laundry service. The staff also helps residents with showering and dressing if necessary.
The Woodlands opened in 2007 and is owned by Dr. Richard Handelman.
Currently, there are 27 residents in assisted living. Jackie Flora, the business and marketing manager for Catered Living and The Woodlands, said The Woodlands facility is likely to have up to 49 residents in assisted living.
Between the total 57 residents at The Woodlands community and the 40 employees, there has not been any cases of covid-19.
“We’re very, very proud of that,” Flora added.
Residents at The Woodlands were quarantined for about four months.
“Our independent and assisted living residents said although it was very difficult, they wouldn’t want to have been any other place than here,” Flora said. “They felt extremely safe.”
The Woodlands has adapted health safety practices, including social distancing guidelines, to protect the residents and the employees.
“We have a large dining room, and each of our residents has their own table six feet apart,” Flora said.
Residents also have to wear masks when moving around the facility.
Throughout the building, there are about 12 hand sanitizing stations, Flora added.
Flora said the facility is allowing visitors outside at this time.
“No one is allowed in the building, but they are allowed to visit [outside] with social distancing of six feet apart,” Flora said. “Plus, residents and visitors must wear masks at all times.”
In addition, The Woodlands staff helps residents make FaceTime and regular calls to their loved ones.
Chesapeake Cottage, a family-owned assisted living facility at 6625 Whitesburg Road in Snow Hill, is permitting family members to visit residents outside while the residents stay on the porch at this time, said owner Seth Underwood.
“We have also had many ‘window visits,’ phone calls and emails to keep them in touch with their families,” Underwood said. “Visitors are not allowed in the facility at this time unless it is an emergency.”
Chesapeake Cottage is utilizing PPE such as face shields, masks, gloves and gowns as part of new safety measures. Covid-19 tests are also administered frequently.
“Thankfully, we have been extremely lucky and none of our residents or staff have contracted the virus,” Underwood said. “We currently have 13 out of 16 maximum residents. We have been extremely cautious admitting new residents because of the virus. New residents must have a negative covid test and be quarantined for 14 days if admitted but at this point keeping our current residents and staff [safe] is our top priority.”
Chesapeake Cottage offers 24-hour care with all meals provided as well as social, educational, fitness and cultural programming.
The Macky and Pam Stansell House of Coastal Hospice in Ocean Pines is still allowing visitors inside the building because all patients are terminally ill, said Bob Miller, the senior director of business development.
“Typically, [patients] will come up with a list of two visitors, who are allowed to visit regularly,” Miller said. “If or when our patient begins to go into active dying, then we are able to make some other arrangements so that we can accommodate the family visiting their loved one.”
The two permitted visitors per patient must consistently be the same two visitors to limit exposure to the virus, Miller added.
The Stansell House opened in June 2019 at 1500 Ocean Parkway, becoming the first hospice home for the lower shore with the primary goal to offer patients comfort at the end of their lives, according to its website.
The facility’s amenities include a meditation room, a labyrinth meditation garden, community room, space for families to gather and dine together, 12 private patient rooms, a porch and veranda with rocking chairs and a library stocked with resources for families.
Patients in hospice receive care from doctors, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, therapists or nursing aides.
Miller said social distancing guidelines have been enforced at the facility.
Staff members are tested weekly for covid-19. During last week’s testing, all staff members’ tests were negative.
The Stansell House is utilizing in-house testing as well as other testing stations in the area.
“Any visitor that comes here and all of our staffing wears PPE,” Miller said. “Any visitor that comes in, they are screened. Their temperature is taken, and they are given PPE face masks to wear if they don’t have their own.”
Staff members can also help patients with virtual visitations over Skype or Zoom.
Miller added that the facility encourages letter writing and phone calls, especially during the pandemic.