Coronavirus Updates

 

Sept. 18, 2020

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have good news! 

After many months battling with COVID-19, I am very pleased to announce there are currently no active COVID cases among staff or residents at The Buckingham. Our last COVID-positive cases all cleared this past week. 

It’s been a long and, at times, grueling six months. It’s been difficult to see the colleagues and neighbors who’ve had to fight this virus, and heartbreaking for the friends it has taken from us.

The success we celebrate today is in no small part due to the dedication and professionalism of our staff, the patience and cooperation of residents, and the understanding and support of families and loved ones. It has truly been a community effort and I hope that you can share in the good news of our being COVID-free. Thank you doesn’t begin to express our collective gratitude. 

Amidst our joy of being COVID-free, we are nonetheless aware that the virus is still prevalent in the Houston area. While we pause to celebrate today’s good news, it is also pragmatic to anticipate the potential for new cases this fall. We will remain focused and vigilant in our approach and continue our efforts to limit any future exposure. 

Our continued commitment means, among other things, that we will still conduct weekly testing for all residents and team members in our health center, which includes assisted living, skilled nursing and memory support.  Also, as the flu season approaches, both residents and staff will have access to the flu vaccine.  We will start to administer the vaccine in the coming weeks. 

This week, we were delighted to open up independent living for visitation and begin to welcome friends and family back to campus. As reminder, here are the guidelines currently in place: 

  • Visitation hours will be from 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. We will add weekend visiting hours after we are confident our processes work well.
  • Visitors must make an appointment before visiting. Please call our Concierge at (713) 979-3100 to make your appointment. The last appointment time taken will be 6:00 p.m.
  • You will not be admitted without an appointment.
  • Standing appointment times will not be taken, nor will we permit multiple apartment visits.
  • There will be a limit of two (2) adult visitors allowed per visit, plus an additional two (2) grandchildren.
  • We will take up to five (5) appointments each half hour. This is to spread out the number of visitors coming at any one time.
  • Visits are limited to ninety (90) minutes.
  • All visitors must enter through the Main Entrance (Gate 1).
  • All visitors will be screened by Security per our normal procedure for temperature, any fever in the past 72 hours, any respiratory illness symptoms including shortness of breath or cough and verifying that the person is being truthful.
  • Please park in the main parking lot and check-in with the Concierge in the Main Lobby.
  • Once checked in, visitors may drive around to the door closest to the apartment they are visiting, or simply walk directly to the apartment they are visiting via the internal hallways.
  • Once in the building, the visitor(s) must take the most direct path to and from the resident’s apartment. The concierge can help if you have questions on the most efficient route.
  • While visiting:
    • Please do not use any of the common areas for your visit. Limit your stay to either the apartment or the outside.
    • If the resident/visitor wish to sit outdoors, please use the nearest exit door to go outside. When returning to the apartment, please use the closest entrance door to the apartment.
    • Visitors must wear masks at all times while inside the community.
  • Physical distancing of at least six feet is required at all times.
  • Failure to follow these necessary safety protocols may result in a suspension of your visitation privileges.

We’re fully aware of the joy among independent living residents having friends and family visit them. But this is balanced by the frustration of those in our health center who are equally anxious to see their loved ones as well. 

As this update was being prepared, Governor Abbott announced that nursing homes and assisted living communities within the State may open for visitation as early as Monday, September 21st.  The guidelines necessary for visitation have not yet been released and how they may differ from the existing restrictions.  In the interest of resident safety, we will not open until we are fully prepared to meet those guidelines. 

We are very eager to allow visitors in our health center and assure you we will work quickly to meet any State guidelines permitting visitors.  However, we do want to ensure the necessary precautions are in place to limit exposure and, in particular, meet the State guidelines. 

We will provide an update to The Plaza residents’ responsible parties as soon as we have more information and are able to welcome visitors.    

As always, please send any inquiries or general questions to updates@buckinghamhouston.com.

Take care and stay well.

James Kneen,

Executive Director

 


Frequently Asked Questions

Responses will be updated and questions added as appropriate

Where are the active resident cases located in the community?
All positive resident cases are transferred to and being cared for in our on-site COVID unit located in skilled nursing. Currently, active resident cases are all skilled nursing residents. It should be noted all positive residents from assisted living have recovered and moved back to assisted living.

Where are positive residents and team members right now?
We have created a separate isolation wing in our skilled nursing center for residents who have tested positive for the virus. We also have designated a special COVID Treatment Team that cares for and treats only those residents. Any team members who test positive self-isolate at home, per our protocols.

Have other residents in The Plaza – assisted living, memory support – been tested in addition to those in skilled nursing?
Yes, all residents in The Plaza – skilled nursing, assisted living and memory support – have been tested. We have also selectively tested independent living residents based on contact tracing.

Are all staff in The Plaza being tested?
Yes, we have tested all staff who work in The Plaza and continue to expand testing as appropriate. We will test all staff communitywide as testing kits are available.

Are there plans to test all residents communitywide?
All residents in The Plaza have been tested. We have also informed independent living residents we can test them upon request. With the majority of our positive cases being asymptomatic, we will remain aggressive in our testing procedures and methodology. This includes identifying possible carriers or those who may have been exposed to a COVID-positive individual through detailed contact tracing.

Are there plans to do anti-body testing with residents or team members?
In consultation with our Medical Director we are looking closely at this issue but have not yet made the decision to proceed. This is due in part to the lack of an FDA approved test for antibodies. We feel using a non-FDA approved test would be premature and potentially lack the reliability of a well-studied and proven test. Residents and staff may choose on their own to take an antibody test through their personal physician.

How are you ensuring staff from The Plaza aren’t interacting with other areas of the community outside their designated level of care?
We have restricted our care staff to work in only one level of care (e.g. skilled nursing, assisted living or memory care). There is no “crossing over” from one area to another. We have severely limited other staff (e.g. maintenance) from entering The Plaza except for essential or emergency service and repairs, and these individuals have very limited, if any, contact with residents.

How are contract employees who may work in multiple communities being handled?
We currently do not use agency staff and at this time contracted personal caregivers/companions are not allowed in The Plaza. We have also asked our staff to limit work to only one community, but this is not something we can mandate.

Has there been any consideration to have staff stay on campus for multiple days?
We have considered this option, but don’t believe it’s necessary at this time with the stringent precautionary and mitigation efforts we have in place. There are many considerations we must weigh before implementing such a protocol, specifically the staff members’ personal and family responsibilities of their own off campus. That said, this is still a consideration and will be implemented if we deem necessary.

Is The Buckingham at risk of a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), and how are PPEs being used now?
As you may be aware from news reports, PPE supplies are in high demand. The Buckingham currently has primary PPE in stock (N95 masks, gloves, face-shields) and continues to follow CDC guidelines for its use as available.

PPE is used when caring for residents who are COVID-positive, and we continue to train and educate team members on proper use of the equipment. In addition, we require all staff and residents throughout the community to wear masks when in public or in common spaces (we are able to supply face masks for all residents who have requested them).

When is a COVID-positive resident or team member considered recovered from the virus?
When a person tests positive for the virus, they enter into a “recovery” time frame. That is a defined period of time, a minimum of fourteen (14) days plus at least three (3) additional days without any symptoms before they can be tested again. Once the person is retested and receives a negative result, we wait at least another twenty-four (24) hours and test again. If the second test yields another negative result, the person is considered recovered.

What is the process if I want to drop off a package for my loved one?
If you would like to drop off a package for a resident, please come to the Main Entrance (Gate 1) and let the security guard know. They perform our usual screening process and, if you pass, will allow you to enter, and also let the front desk staff know. Please enter the front door and leave the package with the Concierge staff. We will deliver the package, usually within the hour, to the resident. Please let us know if there are any perishable items in the package. Also, when entering the building, please remember to wear your mask.

How can I stay informed of The Buckingham’s updates and release of information related to COVID-19?

There are three primary ways you can stay up to date:

  • The Buckingham website: we post all COVID-19 related updates here.
  • The Buckingham Facebook page: updates and more general information about The Buckingham can be found here.
  • Sign up at Updates@buckinghamhouston.com for email notices on when we post updates.

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