NOVATO, Calif. – The COVID-19 test, swirling a swab high in the nostril, is not a pleasant sensation, but worth it, said dozens of caregivers who streamed in for testing Friday in Novato. “Oh my God,” gasped Molly Bray, as a public health nurse finished probing her nose.
“I would do it no matter how painful, but it was a little uncomfortable,” Bray said afterward. “I take care of an elderly woman so it would be good to know I don’t have it.”
San Francisco is among several jurisdictions planning to test all staff and patients at every nursing home. Almost half of California’s COVID-19 deaths are in assisted living environments.
That’s why Peter Rubens, founder of At Home Caregivers, has been pushing to get his employees tested.
“I think the situation is fraught with a lot of fear, everybody’s concerned, nobody wants to get anybody sick,” said Rubens, greeting workers who came to be tested.
He has seen no illness yet, among workers or clients. But rising case numbers prove that locking the doors at assisted living centers does not keep the virus out. His employees move among private homes, and congregate settings.
“It’s just so devastating to see infection rage through an assisted living facility,” said Rubens.
Sixty of his caregivers, about half his staff, signed up to be screened in the garage of his Novato headquarters…”
Read the full article here: https://www.ktvu.com/news/covid-19-swab-test-offers-peace-of-mind-to-home-health-care-workers-in-novato
NOVATO, Calif. – Nursing homes- with their vulnerable residents- might seem ideal for COVID-19 testing. But critics say testing is spotty at best, and often launched only after people are sick and dying.
“We have seen flare-ups in the total number of positives, not just patients, but also staff members,” said Governor Gavin Newsom, devoting much of his Friday briefing to the needs of seniors.
“More testing will provide more clarity and more transparency,” added Newsom.
At congregate living facilities, from assisted living to skilled nursing, residents have been quarantined in their rooms for almost two months.
They cannot leave and their families can’t come inside to visit.
“I miss playing cards and all the things we used to do together, ” called out Gail Stefani, outside the second-floor window her mother Beverly, 86, a retired school teacher.
Stefani visits her mom’s assisted living facility in Novato every day.
The two women can see each other, while they chat on the phone, which is reassuring.
“It’s really hard not to see your parent, ” said Stefani. “All that time they take care of you, and now at this crucial moment, I’m on the outside.”
Millions of families are worried about loved ones in care facilities, and frustrated that testing is almost nonexistent, for residents but especially staff, who come and go.
“They’re just health care workers, and they could be asymptomatic, infected but they don’t know,” said Stefani. “They could unwittingly pass it on, so I’m confused about that.”
This week the California National Guard sent troops- including medics and nurses- to five Southern California nursing homes ravaged by illness and death.
“We want to make them comfortable, to hopefully extend the life of someone who’s critically ill,” said Lt. Jonathan Shiroma, Guard spokesman.
In Los Angeles County, 40% of coronavirus fatalities have been at senior living facilities.
“We all have a mom or dad who might be elderly, or a grandparent, or vulnerable relative, so it hits you right in the heart,” said Shiroma.
Newsom wants improvement and notes, state officials make daily phone calls to identify facilities before their troubles are acute.
“We’re checking in on staff, we’re checking on number of positive patients, and checking in on deaths, numbers I know are important to all of us,” said Newsom.
Inconsistent testing is a sore spot for many health care professionals.
“If major league baseball teams can get tested, and all of Bolinas can get tested, then why can’t nursing homes?,” posed Peter Rubens, founder of At Home Caregivers, which provides licensed health care providers across Marin and Sonoma Counties.
This month, the village of Bolinas found the will- and the money- to test its entire community.
Rubens notes, his roving aides and staff in the facilities they visit, have no protocols other than their temperatures being checked on entry.
“The unsung heroes in this whole travesty are the caregivers,” said Rubens.
“They’re the people who make these buildings work.”
For Gail Stefani, window visits with her mom are better than nothing, but they are always tinged with disappointment and fear.
“I just feel like I’m supposed to protect her now and I really can’t, ” said Stefani, before saying her goodbyes.
“I miss you and I love you mom,” to which Beverly responded, “I love you too.”
While there is a dizzying array of information resources and reports about COVID-19, we wanted to let our Clients and families know what At Home Caregivers is doing to ensure that we continue to provide “Legendary Caregiving Services“. The health and safety of our Clients has always been our first priority. As such, we utilize Universal Safety Precautions, which include hand washing, safety gloves and proper contact and sanitation protocols. During this pandemic, At Home Caregivers has heightened our efforts to protect our Clients, Caregivers and Staff by reinforcing these rules of engagement. Whatever the health threat, we will continue our mission of “Service To Others” using all relevant knowledge and best practices.
Studies have shown that older adults are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. That is why we are taking extra measures to encourage our Caregivers to stay home if they have a cough, cold or flu-like symptoms and to distance themselves from any friends or family members who have been sick or traveling recently. We continue to seek guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local health authorities and will follow all protocols and guidelines issued.
We believe that At Home Caregivers is well prepared. It is our standard practice to train Caregivers and Staff on preventative measures to keep Clients safe. We regularly stock an ample supply of Caregiving related products (gloves, wipes, masks, etc.). It is standard practice for our Caregivers to monitor the condition of our Clients and immediately report any changes to the office. We are currently reinforcing and/or adding to the following existing safety measures:
We have reiterated and reinforced with all Caregivers the precautions needed to prevent viruses from spreading, including regular hand washing and disinfecting surfaces
- Caregivers are on the alert to recognize and report symptoms such as fever, cough, headache and breathing difficulties
- Caregivers have been informed to stay home and away from Clients if they are coughing, sick and/or manifesting flu-like symptoms
- At Home Caregivers has always distributed gloves, masks, sanitizing wipes and other materials. As you are likely aware, some of these items are in very short supply. We therefore ask families to help supply these items if possible.
- We are providing our Caregivers and Staff with ongoing communications as COVID-19 events unfold
At Home Caregivers remains 100% focused on the well-being and peace of mind of our Clients. Communications with Clients and families, while always important, is more so now with the uncertainty and fast changing situation. We will continue to provide updates should the CDC and local health departments suggest additional precautions that affect our service.
Great perspective on aging in America. For the Clients I serve, their families know all too well the challenges of aging. What the author didn’t say is simply this: even if you’re family provides some care at home for their aging parents, getting old is enormously expensive. Following either path of assistance; placement in a facility or Home Care Aides. – Peter Rubens
From The New York Times:
“We’re Getting Old, But We’re Not Doing Anything About It
Like climate change, the aging of America demands a serious rethinking of the way we live.”
At Home Caregivers is a proud sponsor of the Alzheimer’s Association and a regular supporter of the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The is held each October at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma. The event typically includes over 1,500 “walkers” and raises over $300,000 to fight Alzheimer’s disease. For the past two years, At Home Caregivers has had the pleasure of keeping walkers fully hydrated by sponsoring the “Hydration Station” featuring free water bottles and water refills.
Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Today over 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, including an estimated 200,000 under the age of 65. Gifts to the Alzheimer’s Association continue their mission to eliminate the disease through the advancement of research and to enhance care and support for all affected. More information can be found, and donations can be accepted at http://www.alz.org/norcal.