Senior centers, veteran groups, clinics taking extra measures

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Several area senior living facilities and veterans’ organizations are taking extra precautions, including restricting visitors, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cari Ison, director of nursing at Fair Oaks Health Care Center in Crystal Lake, said that at this time the facility is only allowing in those essential to the care of its patients and residents.

These restrictions started March 9. Fair Oaks is waiting for further guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the Center for Medicare Services and Illinois Department of Public Health to see when these could possibly be lifted, Ison said.

However, Fair Oaks is offering virtual visits through Skype and Facetime.

For the most part, Ison said, people are understanding of these restrictions.

“We have a very small, tight-knit community,” Ison said. “We have patients who have visitors daily, and some stay all day; [this] is a little hard for those people, but like I said, we are offering virtual visits to put people at ease.”

Fair Oaks is also screening all staff and any service people allowed into the building.

They are also taking temperatures of staff members before shifts and tracking to see if they had any contact with sick people since their last shifts, Ison said. As for potential patients to the facility, they are also being screened before being admitted.

“Right now, it doesn’t seem to be that big of a concern, [but] the closer it gets the more concerning it gets for people,” Ison said. “We’re trying to take every proactive measure we can to make sure it doesn’t enter the community.”

Hearthstone, a Heritage senior living community in Woodstock, is taking similar measures, restricting all visitors, except for those visiting end-of-life residents or residents needing emotional support, until March 18 and screening anyone who enters the building.

End-of-life residents and dementia residents needing emotional support may have one visitor a day, ages 18 or older, and visitors will be screened for illness before being allowed to visit using a screening questionnaire. Hearthstone is not allowing any visitors younger than 18 until further notice.

“The health and safety of both our residents and staff is of the utmost importance, and we are taking action to reduce the risk of exposure for all,” Jeremy Rutter, Heritage vice president of skilled nursing operations and executive director at Hearthstone, said in a statement.

In addition, Heritage has formed a coronavirus task force including experts in the fields of nursing homes, senior housing and a CDC certified infection preventionist.

Spectrum Retirement Communities, a privately held company that develops and manages Three Oaks Assisted Living and Memory Care in Cary, posted a statement on Three Oaks’ website saying it is committed to monitoring developments and making prudent decisions.

“We have implemented guidelines to limit any non-essential visitors, and to turn away visitors who may be sick or those who’ve reported visiting impacted areas within the past 14 days. This includes those who support our entertainment and programming within our communities,” Spectrum President Bradley Kraus said in a statement.

Kristine Ozyuk, general manager of McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4600, said it is an ongoing policy for both staff and post members to stay home if sick.

“For our facility, we are using the approved sanitization methods that are proven to be effective against the spread of numerous  bacteria and virus,” Ozyuk said. “We do request that all staff and post members wash their hands as they enter the building, and often throughout their stay,” Ozyuk said.

Not only does a complete facility sanitization of all human contact surfaces happen early in the morning, every day of the week, but all food contact surfaces throughout the facility are sanitized after every use.

Lovell Federal Health Care Center, in North Chicago, which serves active-duty military personnel, their families and veterans and has community-based outpatient clinic in McHenry, is pre-screening everyone who enters the hospital.

Patients, volunteers and visitors will only be allowed to enter the hospital through certain entracnces.

Staff will have to show their badges for entry. Patients and visitors will also be screened at FHCC community-based outpatient clinics in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Evanston and McHenry.

Those with symptoms of a fever, cough or shortness of breath should call their provider for more information, before visiting the main hospital or a clinic.

Lovell FHCC may postpone large-group activities over the next 30 days. Visitors and volunteers should check the FHCC website and FHCC Facebook page for updated information.

Visiting hours for other parts of the facility will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“My priority is to ensure all of our staff and patients are protected from exposure and potential spread of this new virus,” Lovell FHCC Director Dr. Robert Buckley said in a statement.

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