COVID-19 Q&A: Strikes, Testing, and Move-Ins

Jacqueline M. Sander

Jacqueline M. Sander

Jacqueline Sander is the Executive Director & Partner of The Birches Assisted Living. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Administration from NIU, which helped her skillfully guide The Birches community through the extreme times of the pandemic. Jacqueline is passionate about keeping up with various industry trends, advocating for and applying best practices in senior living as an active LeadingAge Assisted Living Cabinet member. She values providing an atmosphere of growth and opportunity for all individuals regardless of age or ability, being a preferred provider of quality care, and putting The Birches at the forefront of industry trends. She is proud of helping The Birches become the first certified Montessori Inspired Lifestyle community in Illinois and being an active Chamber Board Member to support small businesses and help them thrive.

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It is important to keep in touch often with all of our members throughout this pandemic. Communication, transparency, and daily flexibility to solve unfamiliar situations (there are many!) help us be stronger together during this time.

We've had some great questions come in from family members and team members this week! Please keep them coming!

Q: Will The Birches be impacted by the upcoming planned strike?

No. The Birches' employees are not a part of a union, and this particular strike is related to nursing homes. 

The Birches' culture and policy have always been to create a positive, supportive, and collaborative work environment to serve our team and their families better and our residents and their families. During this pandemic, our policies are created and adjusted by our team, and it is our team that continues to keep this virus from hitting our doors.

Q: Do you think you will ever be able to test residents?

I hope one day there will be a way to proactively test residents, team members, and even future visitors to have some daily reassurance. I heard from DuPage County Health Department today, and they mentioned there are only a "select few nursing homes" that are approved to do this. With us being an assisted living with no cases or concerns, we aren't on their radar yet.

Unfortunately, the tests now only give a "snapshot" to the date/time a test was given. Additionally, we know the only genuine reassurance is having a 2nd test done 48-72 hours later should the first test be negative. However, it doesn't prevent an individual from catching it the next day, and there isn't a 100% accuracy rate with tests. 

If you have symptoms, you should be home or isolated and act as positive regardless of what a test says.

We are prepared to test residents and team members should we have a positive case here only because we can try to catch anyone that may be asymptomatic. If anyone has symptoms, they would have already been in isolation before any test was given, and team members would be home.

Q: The original pandemic plan mentioned not accepting new move-ins during Lock-Down. Is this still the case?

In last week's email, I mentioned we had adjusted our original pandemic plan to initiate building-wide isolation for residents on their floor if we had (1) positive case. This is what we call our "Lock Down" plan. Initially, we were planning to initiate this if we had (3) positive cases, but we have changed this to where we will "Lock Down" should we have (1) positive cases.

Up until this point, because we had no cases, we had to take each transition on a case-by-case basis and have a thorough plan in place for the safety of our residents and team members. Since March, we have moved in (2) new residents (only using Birches' furniture) and have transitioned (2) of our residents back from the hospital. Thankfully, all have been tested before their transition to The Birches. We still initiate our isolation, in their apartment, as an extra precaution. 

Although we are here to help and support those in need, we plan on limiting all transitions to current residents for May.

We are taking it one day at a time here at The Birches. Stay healthy, and if you have questions, please send them my way.

Jacqueline Sander

Executive Director