COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates – Archive

Outside Visitor Guide
Click for October 9, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

We are pleased to report that Pine View Care Center will be starting indoor visitation on Wednesday, October 14th! We ask that families please call the facility during regular business hours at (715) 284-5396 to make a 30-minute appointment for your visit.

Visits will be held in a separate “clean” room that is near an exit door and can be disinfected between visits. The same rules apply to indoor visits as outdoor visits. You must arrive with a clean face covering in good condition, be screened in and have your temperature taken by our staff member, use alcohol-based hand rub on your hands and be escorted to the designated location for the visit.

A staff member will provide discreet supervision, but will also ensure you have privacy for your conversation. You must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from your loved one, and at this time, there can be no physical contact. Face coverings must stay on throughout entire visit.

You will be asked to sign a visitation acknowledgment so you are aware of all requirements. Our supervising staff member has been trained to end the visit if any of the required rules are not followed.

We appreciate your cooperation with our COVID-19 policies and understand how difficult this situation is for you and your loved ones.  We are pleased to see residents reunited with family members and friends during these trying times. Please see our attached Indoor Visitation Guide for additional details.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact the facility administrator, Rebecca Rieber, at rrieber@rphfcorp.com or myself at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for October 2, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

Every two weeks, we review the positivity rates for the counties where our facilities are located.  The positivity rate is a measure the federal government uses to identify the current level of COVID transmission in a certain area.  A county with a positivity rate less than 5% is designated a “green” county.  A county with a positivity rate between 5-10% is designated a “yellow’” county and a county with a positivity rate over 10% is described as a “red” county.

As of this week’s update, our company has six facilities in “green” counties, Pine View and Pine View Terrace, Willow Ridge and Riverbend Assisted Living, White River Lodge and Flatrock River Lodge; five facilities in “yellow”counties, Oakbrook Health & Rehab, Plum City Care Center and The Seasons Assisted Living, Clairidge House and Lodge of the Wabash; and one facility in a county that just moved to “red”, Crest Nursing Home.

Routine staff testing continues at all locations with “green” locations testing monthly, “yellow” testing weekly and “red” testing twice weekly. We are grateful for the states that have found laboratories to handle our testing requirements, or have provided testing materials directly to the nursing homes.

Outdoor visitation is in effect for all our homes that are not considered in “outbreak” status. A reminder that if one employee tests positive for COVID, even if the employee was exposed to the virus while out in the community, is considered an “outbreak” for this purpose. We are making plans for indoor visitation based on new guidance that was just released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Most of our locations have started administering the influenza vaccine this week. If they haven’t already, our staff members will be in contact with you to review the vaccine information statement for the Influenza vaccine. Here is the link to the CDC Vaccine Information Statements (we use Influenza-Inactivated): https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/current-vis.html.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact the facility administrator or me at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for September 18, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

On our company COVID call this week, we reviewed all of the county positivity rates.  This is a metric the federal government has identified for us to monitor/use. We have several locations that are now in “green” counties.  This means there is less than a 5% positivity rate for COVID in that county. Based on this metric, we will be starting outdoor visitation next week, September 21st at Pine View Care Center and Pine View Terrace.

You will need to call the facility ahead of time to schedule your outdoor visits, as we cannot accommodate families who drop in unannounced due to requirements for staff supervision of visits. Please see the attached outdoor visitation guide for additional rules regarding these visits.

As I discussed in a previous update, the federal government has shipped out the COVID point-of-care testing device and supplies to our facility. Since Jackson County is a “green” county per the metric discussed above, we are required to COVID test our nursing home staff on a monthly basis. If the county turns “yellow”, which means a positivity rate between 5-10%, we are required to test nursing home staff weekly. If the county turns “red”, which means a positivity rate over 10%, the nursing home staff must test twice a week.

We are grateful Jackson County remains at a low positivity level. We thank the residents of Jackson County for this accomplishment. Please keep masking and practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing. Our residents and staff appreciate it!

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact the facility administrator or myself at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,
Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for September 4, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

In our update letter two weeks ago, we discussed the COVID outbreak at our Vincennes, Indiana facility, Lodge of the Wabash. Regretfully, we lost a second resident to the virus on August 27th. However, we are happy to report 20 of our Lodge of the Wabash residents have returned to their rooms after spending time in the facility’s COVID isolation unit. There are now 11 residents in the isolation unit, one of whom was recently admitted from the hospital at the request of local health authorities. Five of the residents in the isolation unit are without symptoms and are scheduled to return to their own rooms tomorrow. Two Lodge of the Wabash residents remain hospitalized.

The remaining 24 Lodge of the Wabash residents were retested on September 1st. The test results were all negative. We are awaiting the test results on our remaining staff. Currently, we have five staff in quarantine.

Outdoor visitation at the Lodge of the Wabash is remains suspended and will remain suspended until the facility has no additional symptomatic or COVID-positive residents and staff for 14 days.

Lodge of the Wabash continues to work closely with the county public health physician, the facility’s medical director and the Indiana State Department of Health on outbreak management and appropriate clinical treatment for our COVID positive residents. The Indiana State Department of Health conducted a third Focused Infection Control Survey at Lodge of the Wabash on Monday, September 1st and they received no citations for deficient practices.

Residents and staff members at Oakbrook Health & Rehab in Thorp, Wisconsin have been tested due to a staff member recently testing positive. All of the resident’s test results were negative. We are awaiting the staff testing results.

Our Clairidge House facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin and our Flatrock River Lodge facility in Rushville, Indiana are the first two locations to receive their point-of-care COVID testing unit and test supplies from the federal government. We are working diligently to prepare policies and conduct staff training to get these units up and running. Our remaining facilities are waiting to receive the point-of-care COVID testing units. The residents at these facilities are presently COVID-free.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact the facility administrator or myself at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,
Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for August 21, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

I would like to start out this week’s update by sharing an article with you to read.

As the article states, COVID cases in the nursing homes are on the rise due to an increase in the overall number of cases in communities throughout the United States. We are saddened to report that one of our homes, Lodge of the Wabash in Vincennes, Indiana, is experiencing a COVID outbreak.

Lodge of the Wabash learned of its first COVID positive resident on Tuesday, August 11th. This resident was hospitalized for an unrelated medical condition and tested positive for COVID while in the hospital. Unfortunately, the resident passed on Friday, August 14th. The Indiana State Department of Health provided testing supplies to the facility last Monday, August 17 and all residents were tested. As of this date, we have 29 residents that are COVID positive. Of those 29 residents, 22 are asymptomatic and feeling well. All COVID positive residents were moved onto our COVID isolation unit with dedicated staff.

The staff at Lodge of the Wabash are being tested at the state drive-through test centers. As of this date, seven employees tested positive and are in quarantine, as required by public health regulations.

Outdoor visitation at the Lodge of the Wabash has been suspended at this time and will remain suspended until the facility has a 14-day time frame of no additional symptomatic or COVID-positive residents and staff.

Lodge of the Wabash is working closely with the county public health physician, the facility’s medical director and the Indiana State Department of Health on outbreak management and appropriate clinical treatment for our COVID positive residents.

One employee at our Oakbrook Health & Rehabilitation in Thorp, Wisconsin has tested positive for the virus and is in quarantine. We believe the employee was exposed to the virus outside of the facility.

As always, if you do have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact the facility administrator or myself at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for August 21, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

I would like to start out this week’s update by sharing an article with you to read.

As the article states, COVID cases in the nursing homes are on the rise due to an increase in the overall number of cases in communities throughout the United States. We are saddened to report that one of our homes, Lodge of the Wabash in Vincennes, Indiana, is experiencing a COVID outbreak.

Lodge of the Wabash learned of its first COVID positive resident on Tuesday, August 11th. This resident was hospitalized for an unrelated medical condition and tested positive for COVID while in the hospital. Unfortunately, the resident passed on Friday, August 14th. The Indiana State Department of Health provided testing supplies to the facility last Monday, August 17 and all residents were tested. As of this date, we have 29 residents that are COVID positive. Of those 29 residents, 22 are asymptomatic and feeling well. All COVID positive residents were moved onto our COVID isolation unit with dedicated staff.

The staff at Lodge of the Wabash are being tested at the state drive-through test centers. As of this date, seven employees tested positive and are in quarantine, as required by public health regulations.

Outdoor visitation at the Lodge of the Wabash has been suspended at this time and will remain suspended until the facility has a 14-day time frame of no additional symptomatic or COVID-positive residents and staff.

Lodge of the Wabash is working closely with the county public health physician, the facility’s medical director and the Indiana State Department of Health on outbreak management and appropriate clinical treatment for our COVID positive residents.

One employee at our Oakbrook Health & Rehabilitation in Thorp, Wisconsin has tested positive for the virus and is in quarantine. We believe the employee was exposed to the virus outside of the facility.

As always, if you do have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact the facility administrator or myself at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for August 7, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

Two weeks have passed since our last update letter and not much has changed. We continue to be grateful to report that as of today’s date, we are not aware of any COVID cases among our residents. We have one COVID positive staff member from one of our Indiana facilities currently in quarantine.  When we have an employee that tests positive for COVID, we notify the residents, the resident representatives and staff members of the facility where the employee works.

The second round of focused infection control surveys have begun in Indiana. Our facility in Rushville, Indiana, Flatrock River Lodge, received no citations. We are proud of our team for this accomplishment.

In the past weeks, I have heard from some family members regarding visitation.  They also asked what we are doing to help our residents deal with depression and loneliness resulting from the isolation requirements triggered by this pandemic.   I would like to take this opportunity to lay out several of our strategies we use to deal with these situations:

  • Skype, FaceTime and window visits continue at all of our communities. You can call the facility to arrange a date/time for these visits.
  • The Indiana facilities have been doing outdoor visitation for a full month now. Our Montana and Wisconsin facilities are hoping to begin outdoor visitation on August 17th, if they receive the green light from their local public health department. Our outdoor visitation areas are set-up and we are very excited to be able to start this process.
  • Throughout this pandemic, we have followed regulations regarding allowing “compassionate care” and “end-of-life” visitation opportunities for families. Each of these visits are defined, per policy, as follows:
    • End-of life visits: For a resident considered, based on the clinical impression, to be at imminent risk of dying (i.e. life expectancy 24-72 hours), an immediate family member(s), resident representative and/or clergy will have the opportunity to have a quality interaction with the resident.
    • Compassionate care visits: Compassionate care situations may extend past end-of-life situations. For example, for a resident who was living with family before recently being admitted to a nursing home, the change in their environment and sudden lack of family can be a traumatic experience. Allowing a visit from a family member in this situation would be consistent with the intent of the term “compassionate care situations.” Again, the goal is to allow immediate family member(s), resident representative and/or clergy the opportunity to have a quality interaction with the resident.
  • resident wearing all pink and holding an inflatable flamingoAll of our homes have developed individualized care plans for residents to ensure they have one-on-one visits, hobby materials, communication with families and friends (to the extent they are able) and participation in facility activity programming and special events.
  • Our facility staff members have been excellent at carrying out activities that have created moments of joy for our residents. I’ve included one of my favorite resident photos during this pandemic below. In fact, our resident’s son wrote a beautiful article about our facility, Plum City Care Center in Plum City, Wisconsin. The link is shared here if you would like to read it.

As always, if you do have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact the facility administrator or myself at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

We appreciate hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

COVID-10 Risk Assessment Chart

Click for July 24, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

We are pleased to report, as of today’s date, we are not aware of any COVID cases among our residents. We have one positive staff member currently in quarantine from one of our Indiana facilities. When we have an employee that tests positive for COVID, we notify the residents, the resident representatives and staff members of the facility where the employee works.

Outdoor visitation continues to be offered at our Indiana facilities. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation during the visits, including the screening process upon arrival and following the safety rules during the visit.  We are not proceeding yet with the plan for indoor visitation, as the COVID activities in our counties have been increasing.  We will follow the recommendations of the local public health departments as to when it is safe to commence indoor visitation.

There have been a few questions regarding communal dining and activities. We do have our dining rooms “open” at this time, however, it is at limited capacity. Residents must continue to social distance by keeping at least six feet apart from fellow residents.  Also, residents must mask when outside their rooms. Each facility is managing the dining area for assisted meals and certain activities to ensure appropriate cleaning and disinfection takes place.

Our Wisconsin facility administrators and nursing directors continue to attend webinars given by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to assist in preparing for outdoor visitation. We will continue to work with the local public health departments and the state to decide when it is safe to begin. As of today’s date, many communities in Wisconsin are considered high-risk and visitation is still not advised.

Crest Nursing Home in Butte, Montana reopened its onsite beauty salon this week. The residents there are ecstatic.  We cannot wait to reopen our other locations when we are permitted.

Hickory Pointe Care & Rehabilitation of Oskaloosa, Kansas completed its federal COVID-19 Focused Infection Control Survey and COVID-19 Focused Emergency Preparedness Survey a couple weeks ago, and they were issued no citations. The surveyors commended the facility on its excellent preparation and implementation of the facility’s COVID prevention, identification and response plans.

Our company has placed additional orders for more personal protective equipment (PPE) this week as it became available. With these new shipments, we are optimistic we will have enough masks, face shields, gowns and N95’s to last us through the balance of the year.  Gloves remain scarce, but we are doing our best to ensure an adequate ongoing supply.

We are also very pleased to announce the federal government has decided to issue each nursing home a rapid-test COVID unit and supplies. Once received, we will have the ability to test our own symptomatic residents immediately and find out the result within an hour. This is a great tool to have at our disposal! Other efforts are also underway to assist nursing homes. For those of you interested in additional information, please see https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-announces-new-resources-protect-nursing-home-residents-against-covid-19.

As always, if you do have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact the facility administrator or myself at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

We appreciate hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for July 10, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

We are pleased to report, as of today’s date, we are not aware of any COVID cases among our residents and staff.

As mandated by the Indiana State Department of Health, our Indiana facilities started outdoor visitation on July 4th. Since then, several family members have scheduled appointments and spent time with their loved ones. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation during the visits, including the screening process upon arrival and following the safety rules during the visit. Unfortunately, the weather has been too hot and humid for some of our residents and we have had to reschedule some visits.

We like to remind our Indiana family members to refrain from engaging in high risk activities prior to your visits. I am including in this letter a chart prepared by the Texas Medical Association that identifies what activities are considered low, moderate or high risk. We hope this will provide some guidance for you.

Our Wisconsin facility administrators and nursing directors continue to attend webinars given by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to assist in preparing for outdoor visitation. We will continue to work with the local public health departments and the state to decide when it is safe to begin.

At the request of several of our residents, we have developed a plan to allow a beautician to provide beauty services to our residents at the facilities. Policies and procedures have been developed to ensure this is done safely, including COVID-testing of the beautician and extensive training on appropriate disinfection practices. Crest Nursing Home in Butte, Montana will be the first facility to reopen its onsite beauty salon next week.

We have decided to provide our website and letter distribution updates every two weeks instead of weekly. We believe you have a very good understanding of the safety measures we have in place, our PPE supply and the required notifications we provide if we do have a positive COVID case. If you do have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact the facility administrator or myself at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

We appreciate hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for July 1, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

As you have heard on the news, COVID cases are on the rise across the country. Many governors are shutting down previously reopened beaches, bars and restaurants and mandating face mask use in public.  Silver Bow County in Montana, where our facility, Crest Nursing Home, is located, had not seen a positive COVID case in the county since March 30th. However, in the past week, three new COVID cases have been reported.  Once more, we discontinued visitation at Crest and the staff has resumed wearing full face shields and goggles.

We continue to closely watch each county’s COVID activity where our homes are located, as well as COVID activity in adjacent counties. As of June 30, 2020, the following is a list of our facilities and their county’s COVID statistics, listed in increasing order of cases:

  1. Crest Nursing Home: Silver Bow County, Montana -14 positive cases, 0 deaths, date of last positive case June 29
  2. Hickory Pointe Care & Rehab: Jefferson County, Kansas – 24 positive cases, 0 deaths, date of last positive case June 23
  3. Pine View Care Center and Pine View Terrace: Jackson County, Wisconsin – 27 positive cases, 1 death, date of last positive case June 29th.
  4. Willow Ridge Healthcare: Polk County, Wisconsin – 49 positive cases, 1 death, date of last positive case June 28th.
  5. Flatrock River Lodge: Rush County, Indiana – 53 positive cases, 3 deaths, date of last positive case June 25th.
  6. Lodge of the Wabash: Knox County, Indiana – 59 positive cases, 0 deaths, date of last positive case June 28th.
  7. Plum City Care Center and The Seasons: Pierce County, Wisconsin – 68 positive cases, 0 deaths, date of last positive case June 29th.
  8. Oakbrook Health & Rehab: Clark County, Wisconsin – 71 positive cases, 6 deaths, date of last positive case June 29th.
  9. White River Lodge: Lawrence County, Indiana – 218 positive cases, 24 deaths, date of last positive case June 28th.
  10. Clairidge House: Kenosha County, Wisconsin – 1492 positive cases, 43 deaths, date of last positive case June 29th.

Despite the uptick in positive COVID cases, the Indiana State Department of Health is requiring Indiana nursing homes to commence outdoor visitation this Saturday, July 4th. This means family members may begin calling Flatrock River Lodge, Lodge of the Wabash or White River Lodge to schedule a 30-minute appointment time with their loved one. Please see our outdoor visitation guide for specifics. We are happy you will be able to visit your family member, but apprehensive about the ill-timing of this mandate.

What does this mean for our nursing homes in other states? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), our federal regulatory agency, encourages any decisions to relax requirements or conduct creative alternatives within nursing homes be made in coordination with state and local officials after a careful review of facility-level, community, and state factors/orders. Additionally, state and local officials consider all the following as a part of a comprehensive reopening plan:

  • Case status in surrounding community
  • Case status in the nursing home(s)
  • Staffing levels
  • Access to adequate testing for residents and staff
  • Personal protective equipment supplies
  • Local hospital capacity

These factors help guide decisions regarding reopening and creative ways to facilitate visitation. Consequently, Wisconsin, Montana and Kansas are not yet requiring homes to begin outdoor visitation. We will keep you apprised of any further progress or developments in this area.

Indiana used slightly different data to guide its decisions, including: (1) the number of hospitalized COVID patients statewide over the last 14 days, (2) critical care bed and ventilator capacity, (3) testing capacity for COVID symptomatic and at-risk Hoosiers; and (4) contact tracing.

Effective July 1st, we have made some changes to our quarantine requirements for residents. Residents that go directly to a clinic or hospital appointment, where the environment is controlled and all precautions are in place, will not be quarantined for 14 days upon their return. This is also true for our dialysis residents. Residents who leave their facilities to attend social gathering events such as weddings, funerals or parties will continue to be quarantined for 14 days upon their return.   These social gathering events are often called “super spreader” events if face mask use is not universally enforced for those in attendance and social distancing is not adhered to.  Please consider this as you weigh the risks and benefits of having your loved one attend such functions.

Once again, we appreciate your continued patience and understanding.  The safety of our residents and staff members are our top priorities.  If you have any additional questions or comments, you may e-mail me directly at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for June 25, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

Oakbrook Health and Rehabilitation of Thorp, Wisconsin completed its state COVID-19 Focused Infection Control Survey and COVID-19 Focused Emergency Preparedness Survey this week, and they were issued no citations. The surveyors commended the facility on its excellent preparation and implementation of the facility’s COVID prevention, identification and response plans.

Our three Indiana locations have completed surveillance COVID testing of their staff. A part-time employee at our Flatrock River Lodge facility in Rushville, Indiana, tested positive. Because the employee exhibited no symptoms of the virus, we requested the employee be tested again. The purpose of the second test was to determine if the employee was, in fact, asymptomatic positive or, if the test was a false positive test. We received the employee’s second test results and they were negative. The employee has been tested for the third time to confirm the negative status, and those results returned today negative. Our Flatrock administrator, Twyla Shaw, notified all residents, resident representatives and employees on Saturday, June 20th of the employee’s initial positive test results, as required by regulations.

Our Wisconsin facilities have started the second round of staff testing. This round of testing will be done in smaller groups of employees on an every-other week basis. The state of Kansas is not conducting any mass surveillance testing of staff or residents at this time. We will continue testing all our Kansas employees and residents exhibiting symptoms of the virus. As noted in an earlier update, Montana completed staff and resident surveillance testing and all test results were negative. We will continue to test all our Montana employees and residents who exhibit symptoms of the virus.

When we do receive a positive test result for an employee, they are removed from the work schedule and immediately quarantined. We notify all residents, staff members and resident representatives as soon as we are made aware of the test results. Any residents who may have been in contact with the employee are monitored closely for any change in the resident’s vital signs or any possible symptoms of COVID. All staff members are in procedure masks and full face shields or goggles during their shifts to reduce the risk of an asymptomatic employee transmitting the virus. We are pleased to report we have no positive COVID cases amongst our residents at any location.

We reported last week that Crest Nursing Home in Butte, Montana was fortunate enough to begin family outdoor visitation, since the county where Crest is located has not had a positive COVID case since March 30th. We are closely watching each county’s COVID activity where our homes are located. As of June 23, 2020, the following is a list of our facilities and their county’s COVID statistics, listed in increasing order of cases:

  1. Crest Nursing Home: Silver Bow County, Montana – 11 positive cases, 0 deaths, date of last positive case March 30th.
  2. Hickory Pointe Care & Rehabilitation: Jefferson County, Kansas – 22 positive cases, 0 deaths, date of last positive case June 9th.
  3. Pine View Care Center and Pine View Terrace: Jackson County, Wisconsin – 25 positive cases, 1 death, date of last positive case June 18th.
  4. Willow Ridge Healthcare and Riverbend: Polk County, Wisconsin – 41 positive cases, 1 death, date of last positive case June 22nd.
  5. Lodge of the Wabash: Knox County, Indiana – 47 positive cases, 0 deaths, date of last positive case June 22nd.
  6. Flatrock River Lodge: Rush County, Indiana – 52 positive cases, 3 deaths, date of last positive case June 22nd.
  7. Plum City Care Center and The Seasons: Pierce County, Wisconsin – 57 positive cases, 0 deaths, date of last positive case June 22nd.
  8. Oakbrook Health & Rehabilitation: Clark County, Wisconsin – 60 positive cases, 6 deaths, date of last positive case June 22nd.
  9. White River Lodge: Lawrence County, Indiana – 200 positive cases, 24 deaths, date of last positive case June 23rd.
  10. Clairidge House: Kenosha County, Wisconsin – 1435 positive cases, 41 deaths, date of last positive case June 23rd.

We monitor the above data weekly. A nursing home or assisted living community cannot have any new positive cases for 28 days, needs to be located in a county with no new cases for at least 14 days, and the counties surrounding our home are on a downward trend, then we will allow the outdoor visitation, according to our protocol, at that particular location. However, if a location is allowed to participate in outdoor visitation and there are new positive COVID cases identified in the county, then the outdoor visitation will cease until the criteria is met. As you can see from the list, Crest Nursing Home is the only home meeting criteria at the present time. Hickory Pointe in Oskaloosa, Kansas is getting close, but unfortunately there has been a spike in positive COVID cases in adjacent counties this week. We are hopeful more of our locations will meet the criteria as soon as possible.

For those who can only partake in window visits, we want to remind everyone to please call the facility to schedule a time. This allows staff to prepare for the visit by assisting the resident in getting them safely to the window or designated location.

Once again, we appreciate your continued patience and understanding. The safety of our residents and staff members are our top priorities. If you have any additional questions or comments, you may e-mail me directly at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for June 19, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

This past week has been another busy one. Two of our three Indiana facilities have conducted COVID staff testing (Lodge of the Wabash in Vincennes and Flatrock River Lodge in Rushville), with the third location (White River Lodge in Bedford) scheduled to test this upcoming weekend. Crest Nursing Home in Butte, Montana was fortunate enough to begin family outdoor visitation on June 16th, since the county where Crest is located has not had a positive COVID case since March 30th. Our Wisconsin locations are gearing up for another round of COVID staff testing to begin next week, and will continue on an every-other-week schedule.

Three locations, Clairidge House in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Plum City Care Center in Plum City, Wisconsin and Flatrock River Lodge in Rushville, Indiana all had their state COVID-19 Focused Infection Control Survey and COVID-19 Focused Emergency Preparedness Survey conducted this week, and they were issued NO citations. The surveyors commended the facilities on excellent preparation and implementation of their COVID prevention, identification and response plans. Oakbrook Health and Rehabilitation in Thorp, Wisconsin had their survey started off-site, and are waiting for the surveyors to complete the onsite portion of the surveys.

Last Monday, June 15th, Carla Knight joined the staff as the new administrator at our Pine View Terrace facility in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. We are confident in Carla’s abilities to lead the Terrace team during these unprecedented times.

Our personal protective equipment (PPE) orders continue to be shipped to facilities this week including reusable and disposable gowns, masks, shoe covers, goggles and gloves. With these final shipments, our locations are adequately prepared for “normal” use of the PPE and also have enough PPE in stock to be able to handle suspect or positive COVID cases, should the need arise.

We know how eager everyone is to commence outdoor visits with their loved ones. We will inform you when your loved one’s facility is ready to begin the outdoor visits. As mentioned above, Crest Nursing Home started outdoor family visits last Tuesday.

Recently, a few family members have broken some rules, i.e. removing a window screen and kissing a resident through the window, stop at the facility when they see their loved ones outside and speak with them at a close distance and hug – without masking or respecting social distancing requirements, etc. We ask that everyone remain patient and wait for local public health officials to determine that it is SAFE to begin our outdoor visits. When rules aren’t followed, the resident has to be placed in quarantine for a 14-day period to ensure they were not exposed, and to ensure they do not pass on the virus to anyone else at the facility. We implore you to please abide by the rules for the safety of all.

We appreciate your continued patience and understanding. The safety of our residents is imperative. If you have any additional questions, you may e-mail me at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for June 12, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

We are pleased to report we continue to have no positive COVID cases amongst our residents and staff members.

In last week’s update, I discussed how the Indiana State Department of Health had released guidance that allows families to start outdoor visitation with residents in that state. Using that guidance, our company has developed protocol that our facilities will follow once we receive the “green light” to begin. One item we will require is approval from the local public health department, that they are in support of outdoor visitation given the local level of COVID activity. We continue to work with the state and local health departments to ensure safe outdoor visitation when we are allowed to begin.  We will keep you informed as plans in each county are finalized.

We have continued to receive shipments of more procedure masks and both disposable and reusable gowns from ongoing orders we have placed. We have received our FEMA shipments of personal protective equipment, but as you are reading or hearing in the news, it is disappointing to say the least. Much of what we received cannot even be safely used, so we are happy that we have been able to order and obtain our own supplies.

We appreciate your continued patience and understanding for the safety of our residents. If you have any additional questions, you may e-mail me at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for June 5, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

We are pleased to report that based on the results of some of the recently conducted COVID testing at several of our facilities, we have no positive cases of COVID amongst our residents and staff. We are still waiting for a few pending test results for some of our staff and residents. Indiana public health officials announced plans to test staff during the last two weeks of June. Kansas has yet to finalize plans for testing.

We have some good news for our three Indiana locations. The Indiana State Department of Health released guidance that allows families to start outdoor visitation with residents. We are using the guidance to develop protocol that will need to be followed to accomplish these visits in a safe manner. The Wisconsin and Montana task forces for visitation are meeting to finalize their guidance. Kansas has given authority to individual counties to develop plans based on federal
guidance.

The facility will contact you when we can start to schedule outdoor visitation appointments. The following are outdoor visitation guidelines we will have in place at all of our locations:

  1. Visitors will need to call the facility to set up a 30-minute appointment. Residents may have only two visitors at a time, no children under 12 will be allowed at this time. The schedule and frequency of visits will be at the discretion of the facility in an effort to accommodate everyone.
  2. Visitors must be healthy and free of any symptoms/fever. Visitors will be screened at the front door by a trained staff member. This involves answering a series of questions, providing your contact information, having your temperature checked and sanitizing your hands with alcohol-based hand rub.
  3. Visitors are required to bring and wear a clean face covering or mask in good condition during the entire visit. If you arrive without one, the facility may provide a mask and charge you a nominal fee. We also encourage you to bring hand sanitizer if able.
  4. A staff member will escort you to the designated outdoor area at a shaded table/area, where you will be placed at least 6’ away from your loved one to abide by social distancing requirements.
  5. Unscheduled visits will not be allowed, and any visits scheduled on days with inclement weather or temperature over 95 degrees will need to be rescheduled for the safety of all.
  6. Please use the rest room before you arrive at the facility for your scheduled visit. Visitors will not be allowed inside the facility for any reason at this time.
  7. If you bring any food/snacks for your loved one, these will be collected at the time of screening, labeled and dated, and taken to the kitchen for the resident to enjoy at a later time after the visit has ended. Face coverings/masks cannot be removed by visitor or resident during the visit.
  8. As difficult as it is, there can be no hugs or physical touch during the visit for the safety of the resident.
  9. A trained staff member is required to remain outside for the duration of the visit to ensure a safe encounter occurs. They will remain at a distance to afford you privacy, but please know they are required to supervise.
  10. These rules will be strictly enforced. Please help make these visits as enjoyable and as safe as possible for you, your loved ones and our staff.

We want to extend our sincere gratitude to our employees for their hard work and dedication during this pandemic. Wearing all the extra personal protective equipment is uncomfortable but imperative for the safety of both residents and employees.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we deal with this pandemic. I would also like to thank the residents and family members who have sent me letters with questions, comments and suggestions. You may also e-mail me at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,
Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for May 29, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

We are pleased to once again report there are no positive cases of COVID amongst our residents. We have received the COVID surveillance testing results for four of our locations. Plum City Care Center and The Seasons in Plum City, Wisconsin tested residents and staff members on Monday, May 18th and all results returned negative. Both Clairidge House in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Oakbrook Health & Rehab in Thorp, Wisconsin, tested all residents on Tuesday, May 19th and all results also returned negative. This week, we completed testing of the residents at Willow Ridge Healthcare in Amery, Wisconsin, Pine View Care Center and The Terrace in Black River Falls, Wisconsin and Crest Nursing Home in Butte, Montana. Both Clairidge House and Oakbrook conducted staff testing this week also. Riverbend Assisted Living in Amery, Wisconsin will be testing residents next week. Indiana and Kansas public health officials have not finalized plans for testing in those states.

As a reminder, in the event we receive any positive COVID test results, we will notify staff, residents and the residents’ authorized representative by 5pm the next calendar day. We will post a letter to the facility’s website and a link on the facility’s Facebook page. The letter will be distributed to all residents and on-duty staff members. Off-duty staff members are asked to check the website or Facebook page. Please note, we will call one authorized person for each resident. We ask the authorized person to share the information with other family members.

Any resident that tests positive will be immediately moved into our COVID isolation unit and will be placed on contact and airborne precautions. This is a dedicated isolation unit behind an antechamber wall that separates it from the remainder of the facility. Staff members on that unit will be wearing N95 masks, full face shields, gowns and gloves. Residents will reside on the unit until they are free of symptoms, if any, and there is clinical certainty that they have recovered and are no longer infectious.

We continue to use every resource at our disposal to provide our staff and residents with the personal protective equipment (PPE) required for their safety. We have ordered more disposable and reusable gowns, face masks, KN95 masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. We have also started receiving our distributions of PPE from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Families are inquiring about taking their loved ones home for a weekend visit while the government mandated ban on visitors remains in place. Such action may place your loved ones in a high risk environment by possibly exposing them to an asymptomatic COVID carrier in your family. This is a situation no one wants. If you proceed with this plan, our staff is required to instruct you on face coverings, social distancing, hand hygiene, etc. and document the conversation in the resident’s medical record. We also have to screen the family member picking up the resident for fever or symptoms, and screen the resident upon their return. The resident will then be placed in isolation for 14 days upon their return to the facility for the safety of all others. These are government mandated requirements in place to ensure the safety of your loved ones, other residents and our staff. Please consider the risk before making this decision.

We know how difficult it is to not be able to hug your mother, father, grandmother, and grandfather. When the visitation ban is finally lifted, we will be by your side, with tears of joy, when the first visits and hugs are allowed. We know window visits are not ideal but we are researching ways to improve this, such as Bluetooth headsets that can amplify sound. One of the biggest complaints regarding window visits is residents cannot hear their family members on a regular cellphone. We are hopeful that we can find and purchase items to remedy this problem.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we deal with this pandemic. I would also like to thank the residents and family members who have sent me letters with questions, comments and suggestions. You may also e-mail me at ssonnentag@rphfcorp.com.

Sincerely,Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for May 22, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

We are pleased to once again report there are no positive cases of COVID amongst our residents. Clairidge House, our facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has an employee who tested positive, who remains in quarantine. This employee has been absent from the facility for nearly three weeks. There have been no other staff members or residents at Clairidge House develop symptoms of the virus.

This past week, we started COVID surveillance testing at four Wisconsin locations. Plum City Care Center and The Seasons in Plum City, Wisconsin tested residents and staff members on Monday. Both Clairidge House and Oakbrook Health & Rehab in Thorp, Wisconsin, tested all residents on Tuesday and will complete staff testing next week, pending the results of the resident testing. Starting next week, we plan on testing residents at Willow Ridge Healthcare and Riverbend in Amery, Wisconsin, Pine View Care Center and The Terrace in Black River Falls, Wisconsin and Crest Nursing Home in Butte, Montana. Indiana and Kansas public health officials continue to work on plans for testing in those states.

In the event we receive any positive COVID test results, we will notify staff, residents and the residents’ authorized representative by 5pm the next calendar day. We will post a letter to the facility’s website and a link on the facility’s Facebook page. The letter will be distributed to all residents and on-duty staff members. Off-duty staff members are asked to check the website or Facebook page. Please note, we will call one authorized person for each resident. We ask the authorized person to share the information with other family members.

Any resident that tests positive will be immediately moved into our COVID isolation unit and will be placed on contact and airborne precautions. This is a dedicated isolation unit behind an antechamber wall that separates it from the remainder of the facility. Staff members on that unit will be wearing N95 masks, full face shields, gowns and gloves. Residents will reside on the unit until they are free of symptoms, if any, and there is clinical certainty that they have recovered and are no longer infectious.

Many states are working on plans to reopen the economy in phases. Unfortunately, for the nursing home and assisted living sector, we are not presently included in these phased reopenings. Family visitation is still restricted to just window visits for the safety of the residents. We are required to abide by federal regulations on this issue, but please know that there has been a task force set-up at the national level to devise a plan to allow safe visitation in a later phase of reopening.

You may still use FaceTime or Skype to see your loved ones, as well as call or email the facility. Many families have shared short videos they recorded of life events to share with their loved one. From births of new great grandchildren to college graduations to private wedding ceremonies – the residents are so happy and appreciative to be a part of your lives in this way. If you have anything you would like us to share with your family member, please contact the administrator for arrangements!

Thank you for taking the time to read our updates. Please let our staff know if you have any additional questions.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for May 15, 2020 Letter

As we approach the end of week nine of dealing with this pandemic, we are pleased to report there are no positive cases of COVID amongst our residents. The two employees at our Lodge of the Wabash facility in Vincennes, Indiana, who tested positive for COVID, have recovered and returned to work. On May 8th, we received notice of a positive COVID test for an employee (with an exposure outside of our employment) at our Clairidge House facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The employee has not worked at the facility since May 2nd, and, while working at the facility, wore full PPE.

President Trump recently recommended all nursing home staff and residents be tested for the virus. Our Wisconsin and Montana facilities received testing supplies this week. We will commence testing next week at these facilities and expect to complete the testing by May 31st. We have not received confirmation from Indiana and Kansas about testing supplies for our facilities in these states.

In the event we receive any positive COVID test results, we will notify staff, residents and the residents’ authorized representative by 5pm the next calendar day. We will post a letter to the facility’s website and a link on the facility’s Facebook page. The letter will be distributed to all residents and on-duty staff members. Off-duty staff members are asked to check the website or Facebook page. Please note, we will only call one authorized person for each resident. We ask the authorized person to share the information with other family members.

Please know we are attempting to do everything we can to reduce transmission of the virus and protect our residents and staff. The following are some of the precautionary measures in place:

  • We continue to conduct extensive screening of all our employees at the beginning of their shifts. If any symptom or fever is present, the employee is not allowed to work per the CDC guidelines.
  • We continue to assess and monitor our residents twice daily for any symptoms of COVID. If a resident has any issues upon assessment, they are placed in isolation with contact and droplet precautions. This means our staff members wear full PPE while caring for them. We are keeping residents in isolation for 14 days from the onset of symptoms. They must be symptom-free for 72 hours before they are released from isolation.
  • If a resident tests positive for COVID, they will be moved to our dedicated COVID isolation unit, where HEPA air filtration units are set-up, and dedicated staff members will have N95 masks in addition to full PPE.
  • Any resident requiring medical attention at a level not available at the facility, will be sent to the hospital.
  • Our staff members continue to wear surgical masks and full face shields or goggles and practice extensive hand washing/sanitizing. This reduces the likelihood that an asymptomatic carrier of the virus can inadvertently pass it on to other staff and residents.

Unfortunately, there is no change to our family visitation policy at our facilities. Though several states have relaxed the “safer at home” orders, federal regulations still prohibit visitors. Rest assured, we will advise you of any change to these restrictions. We understand this is a tremendous hardship for family, friends and residents.

We hope this information provides some peace of mind during these trying times. Please let our staff know if you have any additional questions.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for May 8, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

As we conclude the eighth week of dealing with this pandemic, we are pleased to report we have no positive cases of COVID amongst our residents. The two employees at our Lodge of the Wabash facility in Vincennes, Indiana, who tested COVID – positive, have recovered. One employee returned to work on May 4th and we anticipate the second employee will return to work on May 11th. As of today’s date, we are not aware of any other employee with symptoms of the virus.

Last week, we saw an increase in the availability of COVID testing supplies. We are now able to internally test residents and staff members at most of our locations. We also expanded the symptom screening for our residents, staff and essential visitors as a result of the CDC expanding the list of possible COVID symptoms. We now monitor 14 vital sign measurements and symptoms. Anyone with a potential COVID symptom will be tested immediately and, of course, be quarantined or remain off work until test results are returned and symptoms resolved.

This week, the Centers of for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandated that we report all positive COVID or suspected COVID cases to the CDC – National Health Safety Network website. We are prepared to comply with this new regulation.

We are reviewing our COVID policies, including the policy on how to handle compassionate end-of- life care visitation during this pandemic. We understand it is imperative for immediate family members to visit their loved one to say goodbye. To accommodate our families in this situation, two family members at a time will be able to visit during a scheduled time. If you would like more information about this policy, please contact the administrator.

As far as our personal protective equipment goes, orders have been placed for more reusable isolation gowns, and most locations have received their shipment of light weight full face shields. We are now receiving shipments of surgical masks and KN95 masks from orders we placed a few weeks ago.

A reminder to family members and resident representatives, please call the nursing home or assisted living ahead of time if you have a delivery or drop-off for your loved one. We appreciate the notice as it allows our staff to prepare for the delivery. Items need to be dropped off without any personal contact and must come in packaging we can wipe down or remove. Again, these efforts are for the safety of our residents and staff.

Window visit rules remain the same. You may visit your loved one through the glass, while talking on the phone. The window cannot be opened. The CDC, CMS and our state regulators are providing guidance as to how and when this may change for each location. Unfortunately, at this time, families are not allowed to sit outside with residents, even if you are masked and social distancing is maintained. We know how difficult it is to not be close and hug your mom, dad, grandmother or grandfather. We will let you know as soon as there is a change in these regulations. We appreciate your cooperation in complying with these difficult rules.

For our residents, we want to mention how much we appreciate your cooperation and understanding while dealing with this pandemic. Thank you for wearing your mask when you are around staff or when you come out of your room and for maintaining social distancing requirements. We realize you are experiencing “cabin fever”, made worse with the nicer weather. We also know how difficult this is for everyone, especially during holidays like Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Our staff members will continue to do everything in their power to make these days special for you!

We hope our ongoing efforts give you comfort and peace during these trying times. Please continue to stay safe and let our staff know if you have any additional questions.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for May 1, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Family Members, Legal Representatives and Health Care Providers:

Happy May Day! The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) released an article this week, providing families with questions to ask nursing home and assisted living providers during this pandemic. We thought we would take this opportunity to answer the six questions posed by AARP.

1. Has anyone in the nursing home/assisted living tested positive for COVID-19?

We have no positive cases of COVID-19 amongst our residents in any of our locations. Two staff members at one of our Indiana locations tested positive for COVID-19 the end of March/early April from community exposure. Because of these two employees diligent use of personal protective equipment (PPE), good handwashing and social distancing while at work, we believe they did not spread the virus at the facility. The employees are nearing the end of their quarantine and feel healthy. We expect they will be returning to work soon.

2. What is the nursing home/assisted living doing to prevent infections?

The short answer to this is “everything we possibly can”. We have conducted audits and analyzed every aspect of our operations to determine how to improve infection control. Each department has implemented the strictest level of infection control standards. Our homes are doing more than what the CDC and state departments require. Our employees are the true heroes in our fight against COVID. They take precaution to limit their own exposure to the virus while off duty for the protection of our residents.

3. Does the nursing home/assisted living staff have the personal protective equipment (PPE) – like masks, face shields, gowns, gloves – that they need to stay safe and keep their patients safe?

We have worked diligently to locate and purchase additional PPE. We keep an inventory of our PPE in an attempt to insure our locations have adequate supplies to care for our residents and protect staff. Weekly shipments of face masks and N95 masks are scheduled for delivery for the next six weeks. We have received reusable isolation gowns and full face shields. We also have additional orders placed for these items and are waiting for shipment confirmations. We have gloves and have obtained an adequate supply of alcohol-based hand rub from local distilleries. We continue to work with our local and state health departments for national stockpile allocations. FEMA is scheduled to deliver additional PPE to the nursing homes in early May and June.

4. What is the nursing home/assisted living doing to help residents stay connected with their families or other loved ones during this time?

It is important for our residents to stay connected to family members and friends. We have facility iPads and Laptops with webcams for resident use. We have family members send staff video messages to play to the residents. Family and friends are speaking with residents on phones while “window visiting.” Our employees have done a great job promoting fun and safe activities such as music and happy hours, hallway bingo, art classes, etc. to keep residents engaged and active. We encourage you to follow the facility’s Facebook page to see pictures of your loved ones enjoying the activities offered. The states recently started a grant program for nursing homes to request up to $3000 in communication equipment to assist in this endeavor. We are in the process of submitting applications to obtain the additional equipment.

5. What is the plan for the nursing home/assisted living to communicate important information to both residents and families on a regular basis?

We are committed to providing updated information on a regular basis to residents and families. Every week we post an update letter on each facility’s website and have links posted to the facility’s Facebook page. We will mail the update letter to anyone who requests it. If there is an urgent need to communicate with a resident, family or representative, a staff member will speak directly to the resident and call the family member or representative.

6. Is the nursing home/assisted living currently at full staffing levels for nurses, aides and other workers?

Our homes are staffed to meet the needs of our residents. We have crossed trained staff members to step-in and work other jobs if needed. To further prepare the staff for emergency situations, we are requiring our employees to complete the emergency nursing assistant training course developed by certain organizations such as the American Health Care Association. This will increase staff’s ability to provide additional assistance to residents in a time of need.

We hope our answers and ongoing efforts give you comfort and peace during these trying times. Please continue to stay safe and let our staff know if you have any additional questions.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for April 25, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Health Care Providers, Legal Representatives and Family Members:

As we enter week six of our COVID-19 challenge and what seems to be our “new normal”, we are pleased to report we have no positive COVID cases amongst our residents.

This week has been another hectic one.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now require nursing homes to report positive COVID cases for any resident or employee to the CDC and to every resident of the facility and their representatives. Per the directive, we must notify our residents and resident representatives within 12 hours of the occurrence of a single confirmed positive COVID-19 case. In addition, we must also notify our residents and their representatives if there are three or more residents or staff with any new onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours. We must provide weekly updates, or each subsequent time a confirmed positive COVID-19 is identified and whenever three or more residents or staff with a new onset of respiratory symptoms occurs within 72 hours. These new directives are consistent with the policies we have in place and our goal to keep our residents and their representatives informed on a regular basis.

We created an Employee Safety Acknowledgment for our employees as part of our efforts to keep staff informed of the rules and procedures in place to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.  We are in constant communication with staff to deal with questions on fighting this virus and maintaining the safety of our residents and staff.

We have made an addition to the symptom screening process we perform each day on our residents. New research shows that COVID patients may have low blood oxygen levels as a symptom before developing symptoms of fever or shortness of breath. This low blood oxygen level, in the absence of other symptoms, is called “silent hypoxia” and can be an early warning sign of COVID infection. After reviewing this information, we have decided to monitor the oxygen saturation levels twice daily for all residents. This will be done at the same time we are checking our residents’ temperatures.

We have also made a few changes to our employee and visitor screening processes. We have expanded our questioning to determine if an employee or visitor has been in any other healthcare facility in the past 14 days, or if they have experienced one or more symptoms on an expanded list of symptoms.

We have received additional shipments of personal protective equipment, HEPA air filtration units, and oxygen concentrators this week.

We continue to have difficulty with COVID testing in some counties. However, this week Wisconsin launched an online COVID test kit request process for our nursing homes and assisted living facilities. We have policies and training materials in place to educate our nurses on the proper way to conduct the COVID-19 tests.  We are excited we will soon have the ability to test our own residents and staff at many of our locations. We are hopeful other states will follow Wisconsin’s lead on this.

The State Departments of Health continue to conduct infection control surveys by email and phone with our locations, and we have received positive feedback from all of our surveys conducted to date.

Thank you for taking the time to read our COVID-19 update. We appreciate your continued patience and support.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for April 17, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Health Care Providers, Legal Representatives and Family Members:

This past week has been especially difficult for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  Despite heroic and diligent efforts on behalf of providers to protect the nation’s elderly, COVID-19 continues to ravage long-term care communities. Media coverage has not been kind, frequently blaming the operators and providers for the COVID-related death of their residents.

People are understandably upset about the extended “Safer at Home” orders.  It is not easy for anyone involved.  However, these rules are vital in helping to keep our staff and residents healthy and COVID-free.  We are now in week 5 of our visitor lock-down and employee/resident screening process and we continue to be grateful we have no positive cases of COVID amongst our residents.

We are consumed with COVID-19 directives from the regulatory agencies and implementing and evaluating our plans in conjunction with the ever changing directives. RPHF is committed to providing our healthcare providers, family members, legal representatives, residents and employees with up-to-date information regarding the facilities and how we are dealing with the challenges presented by COVID-19.  The following is a summary of highlights from the past week.

In the last few days, we placed orders for additional full face shields, surgical masks and N95 masks that are now available from our suppliers. These supplies are still limited, but we are working diligently to expand our inventory to meet the needs of our residents and protect our staff. We have finally received most of our shipments of reusable isolation gowns, our extra oxygen concentrators, nebulizers and our HEPA air filtration units.

Many of our locations have constructed their antechamber for the dedicated isolation units. We are preparing the rooms in the area with all the needed equipment and supplies. We have policies in place regarding the admission and discharge criteria for this area, as well as for the appropriate use and disinfection of the N95 respirators/masks. We have purchased UVC lights for each location as part of our N95 disinfection process.

Our biggest challenge is with the availability of testing.  We can easily order and obtain a COVID test in one county, and then in the next, we are faced with a battle to accomplish the same.  Contrary to national briefings, tests are NOT widely available and NOT in adequate supply. We have now turned our efforts to pursuing the purchase of our own testing units to conduct our own COVID tests.

As the weather starts to get warmer, please remember that window visits may continue, but windows are NOT to be opened at any time. A reminder to please call the facility to make arrangements if you want to schedule a window visit or if you have an items you want to drop off (prepackaged and able to be wiped down) for your loved one.

Your continued patience and understanding are critical in facing the challenges before us. Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for April 11, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Health Care Providers, Legal Representatives and Family Members:

We continue to be grateful to report we have no suspected or active COVID-19 cases amongst our residents.

Our management team continues in its efforts to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) and complete the construction of our partition walls/antechamber described in last week’s update. Our efforts are often at the mercy of delayed deliveries of materials and equipment but we are persevering.

We were fortunate to find a Minnesota-based company that manufactures splash-guard type lightweight face shields for the Mayo Clinic. The company agreed to provide us with face shields and we placed an order on Thursday. In the meantime, our staff continues to wear the heavy-duty “bionic” face shields. They are looking forward to the lighter-weight shields.

Next week we will be working on emergency staffing plans and staff cross-training in different departments in the event we have COVID cases. We have asked our nursing home and assisted living employees who are not nursing assistants to take the emergency nursing assistant training offered by the American Health Care Association or other state-approved programs. This will provide us with more flexibility in staffing.

For our legal representatives and family members, if you are available for work and are interested in taking the emergency nursing assistant training course, please contact the nursing home administrator directly. The course is 8 hours online and 8 hours of on-the-job training, with the ongoing training included as you are working daily shifts.

We continue to need fabric masks, preferably with ties instead of elastic loops as our employee’s ears are becoming irritated from the elastic. We also need more hand-sewn fabric isolation gowns. If you, or someone you know can sew, the administrator can get you mask and gown patterns. Thank you to those who continue to provide us with these needed supplies.

Our residents will be enjoying a delicious Easter dinner with a day of treats and festivities (as social distancing allows). We understand how difficult it is for you not to spend time with your loved ones during this holiday. Please be assured we will do everything we can to make it a special day for our residents. Their health and happiness are paramount to us. We hope you have an enjoyable day at home with those you can be with.

Thank you for your continued support and patience.

Sincerely,
Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for April 4, 2020 Letter

No Visitors PosterDear Residents, Employees, Health Care Providers, Legal Representatives and Family Members:

Another week has passed and we are grateful to report we have no suspected or active COVID-19 cases amongst our residents.

Earlier this week, prior to President Trump’s request, the management team started on plans to create a COVID-19 isolation unit for each of our skilled nursing locations.  An area at each home will be designated for this purpose. This area will be separated from the main living areas of the facility by an antechamber, which is a separated space created by two temporary walls. The antechamber creates the necessary barrier between the isolation unit and the rest of the home.  Staff will use the antechamber to sanitize their hands and apply and remove their personal protective equipment (PPE).  Staff treating residents in the isolation unit will be dedicated to that unit and will not access any other areas of the facility.  They will wear full PPE, including a fit-tested N-95 mask, a full face-shield, gown, gloves and hair protection. The isolation units will have Honeywell HEPA Air Filtration units.

Our plan is to use the isolation units to care for our current residents in the event they become symptomatic, have suspected COVID-19 infection or test positive for COVID-19. The CDC has instructed us to assume that any resident our facilities now receive from a hospital or the community is infected with COVID-19, unless the resident has tested negative for COVID-19.  For this reason, any resident that returns to us from the hospital or is admitted from the community, untested, will spend at least 14 days of quarantine in the isolation unit for the protection of our other residents and staff.

In addition to our staff wearing masks at all times, we are now requiring any staff with resident contact to wear a full face shield.  This provides the staff with additional protection from coughs, sneezes and splashes.  Please don’t be alarmed if you look through your loved one’s window and see a staff member with a mask and a full face shield.  This is part of our new “normal” in an effort to keep everyone as safe as possible.

We want to thank the local K-12 schools, the technical colleges and the universities in our areas for donating unused supplies to some of our nursing homes.  So far, they have donated thermometer probe covers, Clorox bleach wipes, and gloves.   We also want to thank our volunteer sewing crews for the fabric masks and reusable/washable isolation gowns.  We are greatly indebted to you.

In appreciation for our employees’ dedication, the company has implemented a bonus program effective April 1st through May 31st.   The resilience, strength and commitment demonstrated by our staff has proven critical in getting us through this crisis.  Most importantly though, the staff’s efforts to put a smile on a resident’s face at every opportunity is inspiring.

Please do your part and abide by the “Safer at Home” orders.  If you must go out, please consider wearing a mask.  If we all do our part, the faster we will get through these challenging times.

We thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for March 30, 2020 Letter

Dear Residents, Employees, Health Care Providers, Legal Representatives and Family Members:

We hope this update finds you all well. Currently, we have no suspected or active COVID-19 cases in any of our nursing home or assisted living locations. We did have three residents with symptoms, but fortunately, each of their tests were negative.

We have been working diligently to obtain more personal protective equipment (PPE) for our staff and residents. The following list summarizes our successes:

  • The order we placed for our reusable full face shields have been delivered to each of our locations. The face shields will be worn with a mask when we have a resident on isolation precautions due to fever or symptoms.
  • We are expecting our new infrared thermometers to be delivered this week. The new thermometers will make it easier and faster to screen our employees and residents for fever.
  • We have contacted local distilleries that have turned to production of hand sanitizers. Many of our locations have received a bulk supply of this alcohol-based hand sanitizer that will allow us to refill our dispensers and bottles for resident and staff use.
  • We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the sewers/quilters in our local communities. They have come to our aid by sewing fabric surgical masks for our staff to wear during their shifts. Our residents also wear these masks when they leave their facilities for medically-necessary appointments.
  • We continue to educate and reinforce with our staff about the national and local “Safer at Home” orders.
  • We are turning to technology for health care provider visits by working towards telehealth appointments instead of having physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants make in-person visits.
  • Some of our locations are now receiving a limited supply of the strategic national stockpile PPE.

We are still faced with some challenges, namely trying to get more disposable or reusable isolation gowns, N-95 masks and extra oxygen concentrators. We will continue our efforts to obtain these needed supplies in the event of a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases. Many of our sewers/quilters have committed to continue to make fabric masks, and now, some reusable isolation gowns.

At this time, we ask that you please continue to follow our updates on each of our nursing home and assisted living websites, as well as each facility’s Facebook page. If a positive COVID-19 case does occur at one of our locations, the facility management team will notify all interested parties directly. Also, our residents get so excited to FaceTime/Skype family members and to receive your videos. Please keep them coming.

We thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

Sincerely,
Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for March 20, 2020 Letter

March 20, 2020

Dear Health Care Provider, Legal Representative or Family Member:

As one would expect, we are busy at our RPHF facilities keeping current on COVID-19 directives from the regulatory agencies and implementing and evaluating our plans in conjunction with the ever changing directives. RPHF is committed to providing our healthcare providers, family members, legal representatives, residents and employees with up-to-date information regarding the facilities and how we are dealing with the challenges presented by COVID-19. The following is a summary of highlights from the past week.

In the last few days we placed orders for additional personal protective equipment (i.e., gowns, gloves, masks, shoe covers, face shields, goggles, hand sanitizer, etc.) that is now available from our suppliers. While these supplies are still limited, we are working diligently to expand our inventory to meet the needs of our residents and protect our staff. In addition, we also placed orders for supplies from the national stockpile, though we are told what will actually be delivered from this source is questionable.

We have placed orders for additional respiratory equipment such as oxygen concentrators and nebulizer machines, and additional thermometers. While our oxygen companies normally supply the respiratory equipment, we want to be prepared in case the need is greater than the supply they have available.

Our staff has been vigilant in monitoring all residents twice daily during the morning and evening shifts. We are screening our resident’s temperatures and assessing them for any respiratory symptoms. If a resident develops a symptom of concern, the resident is placed in a private room, if they are not already in one, with the appropriate precautions in place, including assessment and monitoring every two hours. We notify the resident’s attending physician, along with the local public health department when needed. To date our facilities have not had any COVID-19 diagnosis.

We now provide food and beverages to staff during their work shifts. This allows staff to remain in the facility for the entire shift, reducing the risk of exposure while in the public. We continue to educate our employees on the importance of abiding by the national directive to stay in quarantine at home outside of work hours in an effort to keep themselves, their families and our residents healthy.

There are a few things we are asking families, friends and legal representatives to do to assist us at this time.

  • If you intend to visit a resident by looking through your loved one’s window, we are asking that you please call the facility ahead of time to arrange this. Some families are unsure about which window belongs to their loved one and have been walking around the perimeter of the facility to locate it. Some of our residents have been startled. A heads up from you would be helpful.
  • We know many organizations and social media outlets are asking you to send messages to your loved ones. We encourage you send these messages in an electronic format such as text, email, FaceTime or Skype. We are concerned about COVID-19 surviving on paper or cardboard for any period of time and have to handle any item that comes inside our nursing home with care.
  • We are so thankful for your words of appreciation and support. It can be overwhelming at times for our staff. Your kind words mean more to them than you know.

Your continued patience and understanding are critical in facing the challenges before us. Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for March 14, 2020 Letter

March 14, 2020

Dear Residents, Employees, Health Care Providers, Legal Representatives or Family Members:

On the evening of March 13th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued updated guidance regarding COVID-19 to all nursing home providers nationwide. At this time, the facilities have been instructed to cease communal dining and all group activities.

Our staff members have been informed of this directive and will be speaking with our residents today and assisting the residents in adjusting to these changes. Our teams have devised temporary care plans for every resident to meet their psychosocial needs during this timeframe.

Once again, we are appreciative of your understanding and patience.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for March 11, 2020 Letter

March 11, 2020

Dear Health Care Provider, Legal Representative or Family Member:

The current COVID-19 outbreak situation means that it is critical we take every precaution possible. We must prevent this virus from entering our facility. Protecting our residents’ health and safety is our top priority.

The CDC has done a careful review of the death rate in the elderly, especially those with dementia or chronic diseases. Experts are recommending we take action to limit individuals from entering our building and to ensure sick employees stay home.

Early data shows that:

  • The mortality rate for people over 80 in the general population is 15% in China.
  • The World Health Organization report estimates the mortality rate at 21.9% for those over 80.
  • At the nursing home in Washington state, there have been 50 residents who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. As of March 9, 2020, 19 of those have died. This is a high death rate.

There is a risk that people who appear healthy will enter nursing homes and infect residents. Studies of past viral epidemics, where recommending prevention was delayed, were not effective. These studies show that the sooner we limit interactions with each other and wash your hands frequently, the virus spreads more slowly.

These facts have led many to recommend severe limitations on visitors. This describes why we have taken this action now.

This morning the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), a global pandemic. While the CDC still considers it to be a low threat to the general public, our facility has issued new safeguards aimed at limiting the exposure risk for the most susceptible populations – our residents. These residents are predominantly older and have many complex health conditions making them particularly vulnerable to this infection. To minimize the risk of exposure, effective today, March 11th, and until further notice, we are taking the following actions:

  • Our facility has adopted a NO VISITORS stance, meaning no outside visitors will be permitted to visit residents in the facility. The only exceptions will be in compassionate care cases when a resident is in his or her last stage of life or on hospice care. In those cases, visitors will be limited and specifically allowed in the resident’s room only.
  • Our staff will continue to be screened daily before working their scheduled shift.

While the COVID-19 risk to the average American remains low, these common sense measures will help protect our most vulnerable residents. We are making every effort to minimize the impact of these policies on our residents while continuing to put their safety first.

During this time, our staff will work with families and friends to maintain contact with their loved ones via phone, Skype or FaceTime.

We understand how difficult this will be and appreciate your understanding and patience.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

Click for March 10, 2020 Letter

March 10, 2020

Dear Health Care Provider, Legal Representative or Family Member:

Real Property Health Facilities Corp. (“RPHF”) manages and oversees the operations of several skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities located in Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas and Montana, including Pine View Care Center in Black River Falls, WI. RPHF has no higher priority than the safety and health of its residents and employees and is working diligently to ensure our facilities receive the highest quality health care services. While there are currently no cases of Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) identified in any of our facilities, RPHF is taking necessary steps to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading within our facilities.

We have established a robust infection prevention and control program, which we routinely follow for seasonal viruses such as respiratory flu and norovirus. These viruses present significant health concerns to our facilities and serve as regular reminders of the importance of effective infection control. Utilizing our infection control protocols provide us with a strong foundation in dealing with this new virus.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? According to the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), those affected generally exhibit cold-like symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It spreads through contact with another infected person, such as being too close during a cough or sneeze. This general route for this virus spreading mimics that of the typical cold or flu.

Earlier this week, based on the recommendations of the CDC and other state and local health departments, we have been working with our directors of nursing and facility administrators to execute and elevate our standard protocol.

Such steps include:

  • On-site health care professionals who continually monitor the current guidance to ensure the steps taken follow information received from reputable sources and monitoring employees, contractors, residents and visitors for symptoms, and utilizing potential action plans if symptoms should present themselves. Our paid leave policy for employees who are symptomatic is being reviewed, to encourage ill staff to remain home to minimize risk of resident exposure;
  • Education and training on infection control provided regularly to all employees and residents, including re-educating our teams and our residents of our existing infection control protocols – and how they should be observing it;
  • Connection to national, state, and county and local health departments to remain informed;
  • Emergency management station status that provides primary response from federal and local emergency services, prioritized over other general public environments;
  • Culinary teams who adhere to rigid guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration for food sourcing and processing. We intentionally engage in safer storage techniques and stricter sanitation standards than most private homes. We are adjusting our culinary services, such that we will temporarily eliminate high risk touchpoints (for example: salad bar, shared lobby coffee services, pre-set utensils on tables within our dining rooms, etc.);
  • Housekeeping services on site with enhanced cleaning schedules of all surfaces, utilizing robust cleaning procedures with appropriate disinfectants to keep high resident traffic/touch areas sanitized;
  • Responsive measures to quickly intervene should anyone with symptoms need support. Signage is being displayed at community entrances, discouraging visitors with symptoms from entering.

You may be asking how you can help aid us, in minimizing the spread of any illness. Here are some requests we would make of you:

  • Wash your hands frequently and use good hygiene behaviors;
  • Maintain social distancing – 6 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing;
  • Use a tissue or your bent elbow for a cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the tissue and wash your hands immediately;
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, please isolate yourself from others and notify our team immediately or seek medical care;
  • If you have been exposed to someone with fever, cough and difficulty breathing, please isolate yourself from others and notify our team immediately;
  • Encourage your friends and loved ones to visit after the greater community risk has diminished. Visits by those potentially exposed – whether they are aware of exposure or not – raises our risk of spreading the virus.

We thank you for your assistance, support and understanding of the policies and procedures we are enforcing to keep your loved ones safe in this evolving situation.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shellie M. Sonnentag, DNP, AGPCNP-C, CD
Vice President of Clinical Services
Real Property Health Facilities Corp.
435 Village Walk Lane Suite B
Johnson Creek, WI 53038

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