October 26, 2020
Dear Residents and Staff, Families and Friends,
The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise at an unprecedented velocity in Illinois. As of Wednesday, October 28, nearly half of Illinois’ population will be living under the tighter restrictions.
We are so fortunate that our Clare Oaks community demonstrates solidarity by observing all the safety protocols directed and affirmed by experts.
Several counties have surpassed the threshold requiring additional mitigation measures. Today, Governor JB Pritzker announced that Illinois Department of Public Health Region 10, which includes suburban Cook County where Clare Oaks is located, joins five other regions across the State now placed under stricter rules.
The rules include allowing only smaller gatherings of 25 or fewer people and shuttering commercial indoor dining and bar service. Sometime soon, different mitigation practices might change for different levels of living on our campus. If and when any changes apply to any portion of our community, we will notify you about those additional adjustments aimed to protect our residents and employees as well as their families.
This afternoon, the Governor also confirmed another jump to 6.3 percent for the State’s positivity rate and reported 4,726 new cases of COVID-19, marking the first time ever that our State’s seven-day average exceeded positive test results for 4,500 people.
Our shared concern about this significant increase in people with COVID-19 is understandable because so many people, who now receive positive test results, are asymptomatic and my unwittingly transmit the virus to someone here.
What does this mean—even if the number of cases of the viruses do not increase on our campus?
We may be required to implement additional restrictions regarding visits and in-house activities and amenities, including the beauty salon. We are monitoring the situation daily and will inform you, with as much advance notice as we can, of any additional mitigation strategies as directed by IDPH.
While IDPH guidelines do not apply directly to Independent Living residents, we encourage everyone to exercise caution when getting together—even for a brief time or simply passing each other in a hallway.
New protocols for Independent Living residents
Because two staff members, who worked in the Independent Living Dining Room received positive test results for the virus during the last few days, we immediately changed some amenities and activities for these residents.
The following changes are now in place for Independent Living residents and remain in effect for the next 14 days—based on the assumption during this period there are no new cases of the virus in this area:
- No visitors will be allowed into the building.
- Meals will be provided on a carryout basis only.
- The beauty salon will remain open.
- Group activities on campus are suspended, including Mass, Communion and exercise classes.
- BINGO will be available on the phone line.
Least restrictive phase for Skilled Nursing, Assisted Living residents
As of today, Skilled Nursing Care and Assisted Living residents remain at CMS Phase Three, the highest ranking. Families can continue to visit residents in designated indoor areas if they follow these guidelines.
Clare Oaks continues to limit visitors to two people from the same household who agree to comply with the following requirements
- Respond to a phone call for prescreening 24 hours before their visit
- Contact Clare Oaks if they develop symptoms related to COVID-19 within three days of their visit
- Provide their personal contact information to facilitate contact tracing which Clare Oaks will conduct if necessary
- Observe all basic safety practices including wearing a face mask, maintaining six-foot social distancing and practicing hand-hygiene while on campus
Reasons for caution
Since March, Clare Oaks has been blessed with a low number of cases of COVID-19 including four residents and eight staff members. However, we are concerned with the two asymptomatic staff members that have tested positive this week. We will continue to follow the guidelines of IDPH and the CDC.
We require all residents and visitors to always
- Wear a mask in all common areas and while interacting with each other
- Observe six-foot social distancing at all gatherings, including outdoor events, and individual encounters when walking in hallways and delivering mail and packages to a neighbor
- Practice hand-hygiene throughout the day
In addition, our staff members follow a regime including
- Screening at the beginning of and during each shift
- Wearing appropriate PPE, when necessary
- Monitoring for clinical changes regarding COVID-19 symptoms all assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care residents and responding to questions about the virus from independent living residents who monitor themselves
- Maintaining a clean, disinfected community
While it is not in use now, Clare Oaks maintains our COVID-19 isolation unit and monitors our inventory of PPE in case a resident needs this support.
All test results for those taken during the week of October 12 were negative for COVID-19. In compliance with IDPH regulations, we tested 158 of our staff members during the week of October 19. As of this afternoon, we received 152 negative and one positive test results. We have not received results for five tests. No residents were tested last week.
Even while some results for last week still are pending, we will conduct our mandatory weekly testing for all employees on Tuesday, October 27.
Our gratitude to you
Only with your thoughtful collaboration can we make progress on so many fronts. We thank everyone who has played an essential role in caring for our extended Clare Oaks family.
Stay healthy and safe,
Chief Executive Officer