Although some general restrictions are now being lifted across our state for citizens, we are mindful that we continue to serve a defined, vulnerable population and are aware of our responsibilities to mitigate risk to that end and to the best of our ability. Therefore, as of today, our restrictions remain in place. However, we are currently reviewing options on how and when to lift some of the restrictions that are possible, within our Life Plan Communities. More details about these changes will follow.
During the Week of May 11th, five of our communities participated in The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC’s) recommendation to test all residents and employees who work in the Nursing Home areas of our communities in their Phase One initiative.
We are pleased to announce that both the employees and residents tested in the health care centers of the following communities all tested negative.
• Clinton Presbyterian Community
• Florence Presbyterian Community
• Laurel Crest
• The Village at Summerville
Sadly we learned that 4 employees and 3 residents associated with the Columbia Presbyterian Community tested positive. These employees were not working in the skilled nursing facility. Of the residents, 2 were in independent living and 1 was in assisted living. Residents were sent to the hospital, where they tested positive and now, are recovering in that setting. All employees are recovering at home.
Yesterday, May 21st, The Foothills Health Center participated in DHEC’s Phase 2 of the testing initiative. Results of those tests are expected next week. We currently serve 1 resident (not a new case) in our short-term rehabilitation unit at Foothills Retirement Community.
We continue to work diligently, but are prepared to address cases if and when they do occur. An additional layer of testing requirements and protocols for any agency staff that work in our buildings has been implemented, as well.
Our Management Services Office team members provide extra support and guidance for our communities during this global pandemic.
We are grateful for your continued support, prayers, and understanding as we strive to fulfill our mission of enriching our residents’ lives, while keeping their safety top of mind.
Since the beginning of March, Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina (PCSC) has been actively monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and enhancing our preventative and precautionary steps to ensure the safety of residents and staff at our six communities across the state.
Since the pandemic began, PCSC has had five residents test positive for COVID-19, all but one of these was in our health centers. In addition, five employees (including an employee from an outside agency) have tested positive.
Last week the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued a strong recommendation for Nursing Home Facilities to test all residents and employees in the skilled nursing communities. PCSC highly recommends all employees working in our skilled nursing areas to be tested. Testing kits were received on May 7th and PCSC will be submitting our tests to LabCorp on Monday, May 11th and Tuesday, May 12th. Most of our communities are included in this first phase of the required testing. Our Foothills Community will be included in a later testing phase per DHEC, and the date for phase II has not yet been scheduled.
In an abundance of caution for infection control, the PCSC guidelines for testing procedures go a step beyond DHEC’s recommendations and include conducting the tests outside of the building with stations. Full Personal Protective Equipment will be used for each resident and staff member.
PCSC is a not-for-profit organization that was created to specifically to serve seniors of all faiths. As a compassionate Christian organization, we have been dedicated to serving this “at risk” or “vulnerable” population for the last 60 years.
As a multi-site facility, we have a management services office with team members who help support our communities in the efforts to prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19. We stand ready to put the practices in place to address situations unfold.
As we move forward, we will set up standards and practices based on test results and situations that occur. As this evolving pandemic continues to be a fluid, dynamic situation, we aren’t going to have all the answers. However, we do have strong teams at the community level and at the support office. We will all work together to respond and strategize with each community to make sure we are implementing the most appropriate standards and practices.
It is PCSC’s pledge to be forthcoming and transparent. We write weekly updates on our website and we keep the communication lines open with continued frequent communications to family members and responsible parties. Our commitment to our residents, staff, family members and responsible parties is that we will be as responsive as possible.
We at PCSC recognize how difficult these times are for all people. As individuals and as an organization we are embracing this time to find new ways to connect and continue to help our residents live an enriched life finding new ways of engagement. We are grateful to all of the family members who have reached out to us in gratitude for our efforts and it gives us renewed strength.
Since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, we have worked diligently to care for your loved ones. Extraordinary precautions have been in place by keeping our residents socially distanced in their accommodations and by implementing enhanced infection control and monitoring systems.
It is therefore, with great regret, that we must report this week that two residents who resided in the Foothills short-term rehabilitation center and one employee at Laurel Crest tested positive. At Foothills one resident was transferred to the hospital; the other resident remains in short-term rehabilitation. All residents in short-term rehab are in quarantine for 14 days, pending no new cases. The Laurel Crest employee is resting at home.
To date, PCSC has had five residents and four employees (including an employee from an outside agency) test positive for COVID-19. We are currently serving one resident with the virus. With thousands of cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes nationwide, we remain grateful we have experienced very few cases.
Even though some parts of the state may be loosening up some restrictions, we remain diligent in giving staff daily updates to staff and dedicated to following strict safety protocols to protect our vulnerable population. Our employees are amazing and committed to taking care of those they serve and each other. We continue to take comfort in knowing the stringent restrictions are temporary, and this helps us cope.
As a reminder, any new development of COVID-19 is communicated directly to residents and staff in the affected community along with the resident’s legal representative.
We continue to pray for the safety and well-being of our residents, family, and staff. Thanks be to God for blessing our ministry.
Now, almost into the seventh week of maintaining strict safety precautions for the protection of residents and employees, we have learned that one of our residents in the short term rehabilitation center at the Foothills Community has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). This patient is now in the hospital, so PCSC is not serving anyone with the virus at this time.
Since the pandemic began, PCSC has had three residents test positive for COVID-19. Only one of these residents was in our community when he/she tested positive. In addition, three employees (including an employee from an outside agency) have tested positive.
At PCSC we are doing our best to care for our residents and employees in these unprecedented times. Any new development of COVID-19 is communicated directly to residents and staff in the community where it was identified along with the resident’s legal representative.
Knowing seniors with underlying health conditions are extremely vulnerable, we continue to monitor all residents for signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
We also continue to:
- Remind our staff to avoid contact with those who are sick and consult with a physician if they have any symptoms or do not feel well
- Practice universal precautions with staff also wearing masks community-wide
- Screen all staff and vendors upon entry/visit to the community
- Focus on infection control best practices with our staff and residents
From the beginning of this pandemic event, our nursing staff has been trained on the symptoms of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and CDC recommended infection prevention techniques. PCSC has strict protocols, and continues to monitor information and guidance from the Health Department, DHEC, and the CDC. We also are working with state and local public health and emergency preparedness officials to prevent the spread of Covid 19.
These are difficult times for residents, their families and employees as we have a fear of an unknown virus and a longing to be with those we love. Even though we know the stringent restrictions we are now under are temporary, coping with the uncertainly of it all is challenging.
We do take comfort in knowing our diligent efforts are paying off. Our employees are amazing and they are committed to taking care of those they serve and each other. With thousands of cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes nationwide, we are indeed grateful that we are not in this position.
We give gratitude to God for being with us, and for blessing our ministry since the beginning of PCSC.
The national demographics show that a little over 78% of the deaths thus far have been 65 years or older. Those of us in senior care carry a huge responsibility in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 affecting the residents and staff in all of our communities.
Here is what we continue to do at our communities:
- Encourage staff to avoid contact with those who are sick and consult with a physician if they have any symptoms or do not feel well.
- Practice universal precautions – staff are wearing masks community-wide and practicing infection control best practices
- Screen all staff and vendors.
- Monitor all residents for signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Any resident found to have a clinical concern (i. fever, cough, runny nose) ill receive increased monitoring and the responsible party will be notified.
- Providing ongoing staff training on symptoms of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), CDC recommended infection prevention techniques, and protocols for staff.
- Continuously monitoring information and implementing guidance from the Health Department, DHEC and the CDC while working with state and local public health and emergency preparedness officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Communicating any new development of COVID-19 to residents and staff in the community where it was identified.
In spite of our tremendous efforts, we just learned that an agency staff working in the health center of our Foothills Community tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). Sadly, a patient in our short term rehabilitation center at Foothills also tested positive, but is in the hospital and doing well. In addition, several other residents and employees from our other communities have been tested, but thus far all of them have tested negative.
This is the fifth week that PCSC has been under strict guidelines. That being said we know what we are doing is working. There are thousands of cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes nationwide, and we are indeed grateful that we are not in this position.
Thank you for all the positive comments and expressions of gratitude you have sent to us for taking care of your family members during this pandemic.
We continue to be diligent, and pray for safety, good health and patience for all of us!
On Saturday afternoon, April 4, 2020, PCSC was notified by the family member of a resident who left the Columbia Community on April 2that her father passed away at the hospital, where he tested positive for COVID-19.
A PCSC employee, who last worked at the Foothills Community on March 31, 2020, subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, she is recovering and resting at home.
These are events that we prayed would not happen at PCSC and that we have been working and will continue to work diligently to prevent. The infection control protocols and precautionary measures are stringent and are being followed by all PCSC employees.
There continue to be innovative opportunities to connect residents with staff during these days when visitors are not allowed in our communities (except for end of life situations). Having time outside on these beautiful days, watching April Fool’s Day parades of staff in costume, and FaceTiming families regularly help make the days more interesting.
The Easter weekend will be different for everyone, whether we are in our homes are at PCSC. For many of us, it will be the first time in our lives that we will not be going to church during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday. We are planning on making Easter special for every resident in all six communities. Also, our own Franklin Fant will be preaching the Vespers services for most of our communities on Easter. Residents with a “community” channel will be able to watch by tuning to the that channel at 4 pm. Others can view the service on the Presbyterian Communities of SC by clicking YouTube channel.
Keeping residents safe
PCSC reviewed its protocol during COVID-19 regarding visitors on the campus. After careful consideration, the PCSC management team made the decision to continue the current guidelines. While our hearts are torn, the fact that our safety measures are working, resulting in no resident or employee having contracted coronavirus, must take priority.
You will see pictures, perhaps in the newspapers or on FaceBook that show visitors outside the windows of their loved ones in retirement communities. While these pictures evoke strong emotions, PCSC does not allow visitors to do this. We ask for your cooperation as we strive to ensure the safety of residents and employees. We are grateful to those who applaud the security and safety measures we are taking.
Please know that the emotional well-being of each resident is also of the utmost importance. Our Life Enrichment team at each community is ensuring that residents are being connected with their loved ones via telephone, iPad or Skype on a weekly basis, if they are not able to do this on their own. Meals are delivered to everyone’s doors.
Life is very different for all of us. Most of us are not going out, except to the store on an infrequent basis. With Palm Sunday and Easter coming up, we long to be in church and have meals with our families. We will all be lonely apart from each other, but this year, we also want to be virus-free, which is something we have never had to think about on Easter. PCSC will make Easter special for those we serve. Our own Reverend Franklin Fant will be leading the worship services for Palm Sunday and Easter via our in-house communication program.
We will review our guidelines during the COVID-19 outbreak on a regular basis, and will make our decisions based on how we can best ensure the safety and health of our residents and employees.
For those reading this who have expressed deep appreciation, who have sent food for the employees, who make positive comments on our webpages, we thank you.
May God bless and keep each of you safe as we navigate this journey with COVID-19.