Nov 20, 2020 3:56 PM

COVID-19: My Story Episode 12-Nursing Home Administrator Rebeka Jones transcript

Posted Nov 20, 2020 3:56 PM

Rebeka Jones:

Someone could be just fine, and the next thing, they're in the ER and having complications. But you have to remember those that maybe have infections, they're more prone to infections. They just had surgery. They have COPD.

Nick Gosnell:

On this week's episode of COVID-19: My Story, we talk to an administrator in the long-term care field, a little bit about how they are handling COVID-19. This is Rebeka Jones from Hutchinson Health and Rehab. We asked her what challenges face places like Hutchinson Health and Rehab with regard to COVID-19.

Rebeka Jones:

It's important for everyone to understand that we do follow strict national and state guidelines CMS, CDC, and of course, KDADS. These agencies are very specific in both the prevention through the use of PPE, cleaning procedures, social distancing, and the treatment of COVID-19 should a facility have a resident who contracts it.

Nick Gosnell:

Let's talk about testing. How often does it happen? Who gets tested? Those sorts of things.

Rebeka Jones:

So again, CMS regulates that facilities are tested based upon COVID-19 case trends provided by KDHE. Currently, Reno County along with most of the counties in the state are classified in the red or high category. Therefore, our staff are currently tested twice a week.

Nick Gosnell:

Are residents tested more or less often?

Rebeka Jones:

The CMS regulations state the residents are only tested should they be symptomatic. Due to the required testing of staff, should a staff member test positive, we then go into what's called outbreak testing. Outbreak testing means that residents are rested once per week, and we continue to test residents until we have two weeks of negative test results, which includes staff and residents. So we only test them if we're in outbreak testing.

Nick Gosnell:

Is there anything specific about infection protocols that is either more or different thanks to COVID-19?

Rebeka Jones:

Some of the differences are staff are screened prior to coming into the building, which entails: Do you have signs or symptoms of COVID? Have you had exposure to COVID-19? We ask them if they traveled to certain areas of the country or out of the country in the last two weeks. And then we also take their temp. If they answer yes to any of the questions, they cannot work. And then staff also wears surgical masks all the time now, unless we have a positive case, then they immediately go into an N95, and they wear safety goggles or shields. If a staff member is working with a resident who has been placed in isolation, they wear gowns and full PPE, which includes surgical masks, the face shields, their gowns. And staff is also been educated even more heavily about hand washing and using hand sanitizer more often. And then of course, we're also wiping down hot spots more, which would entail doors, handrails, kind of anywhere that is high traffic area, we wipe down even more.

Nick Gosnell:

How do you make sure that your employees are able to have the personal protective equipment they need should an infection happen?

Rebeka Jones:

Our company has actually been amazing. So of course, we work at Hutchinson Health and Rehab, but our company's actually Mission Health Communities. At the beginning, I will say, when the world started to see this, and countries were shutting down, PPE was definitely hard to grab. I mean, you've seen masks that were $50 sometimes. Trying to get them or even a can of Lysol was expensive. Our company though has been great at finding ways to connect with vendors to get us the proper PPE that we need. We also have been given PPE from the state of Kansas recently. They gave us a huge shipment, over 1000 pounds of PPE, so we're really grateful. We see now that the more that this is occurring and the longer it goes on, it's been easier to get a handle on PPE. It was just at the beginning was hard.

Nick Gosnell:

In addition to the limits on PPE resources that you saw earlier in the pandemic, human resources are also limited. Obviously, you just have so many people, and they have to keep their energy up. Are you seeing any issues with regard to staffing at this point?

Rebeka Jones:

I will say it's been different. For the most part, our employees have done very, very well with letting us know what's going on. As long as they are wearing their mask and they are not symptomatic, and again, we test twice a week, as long as they're following that protocol, they are okay to work. Now if they do test positive, then of course they have to quarantine at home for 14 days.

Nick Gosnell:

From a mental standpoint, do you feel like the staff is kind of weary of it? Or is this just another threat for them during flu and cold season, and it just is what it is?

Rebeka Jones:

I think kind of both. I mean, we began practicing heightened infection control procedures back in March when all this started, and infection control has been embedded in us for months. I mean, it's got stricter since COVID started. We've always had to practice infection control, but definitely since March, it's more embedded within. We know exactly what we're doing every day. As the state and the county are opening up, it's difficult for staff not to revert back to their standard practices as going out to eat, going to a sports game, other various activities. So we have to add that extra layer of protection and precautions to stay COVID free, and make sure that staff are doing the right thing.

Nick Gosnell:

Obviously, infection rates can impact visitation policy. But where are you right now with regard to COVID-19 and potential visitation?

Rebeka Jones:

So right now, we currently have outdoor visitation. With Reno County being in red, we will not be conducting indoor visitation until we drop to yellow, and also not conducting outbreak testing. When we are not in red and not doing outbreak testing, we will begin indoor visitation. We try to get as creative as possible. We'll do Zoom. We'll do FaceTime, videos on Messenger, window visits. You can have lunch with your loved ones through the window. We try to be as creative as possible. That way, we're still giving the residents here interaction with their family, and making it as close as possible as to what it was before.

Nick Gosnell:

Have you actually had cases in the facility yet?

Rebeka Jones:

Yes. We've had two, actually. But thanks to the procedure and the processes we have in place, outbreaks have been very short lived.

Nick Gosnell:

If a vaccine becomes available, will that be something that you want your employees or your residents to take? Or do we not know enough yet about the vaccine process to be able to answer the question?

Rebeka Jones:

Per the CMS and CDC guidelines, residents and staff are going to have the opportunity to be one of the first ones vaccinated. With anything, residents have the right to refuse. Staff, as a company, we are determining how vaccination will be handled. Obviously, we will encourage all staff and residents to obtain the vaccine though.

Nick Gosnell:

So how much flu like illness really happens, because is this just a different kind of of problem? Or is this more of a problem than flu typically is?

Rebeka Jones:

Due to our infection control practices, we've never experienced a high infection rate for flu here.

Nick Gosnell:

I want to give you a chance to praise your staff for their hard work because every part of the healthcare sector, whether it be long-term care facilities, which is what we're talking about this week, or hospital workers, etcetera, they're all working really hard right now.

Rebeka Jones:

That staff are dedicated. They have, during this whole entire pandemic, CDC, CMS, the state of Kansas comes out with different things all the time. And the staff has listened to us, and they just go with it.

They have been absolutely amazing throughout this pandemic. One thing I really do want to encourage though is everyone does all the CDC recommendations and practice safe social distancing and to wear a mask. And if everyone were to make these simple sacrifices, we'll all get through this together so much quicker.

Nick Gosnell:

How hard is it for you to hear feedback in the community that says, "I'm not in one of those high risk groups, so I don't really feel like I need to take the same precautions everybody else does"? Does that frustrate you at all?

Rebeka Jones:

It does. I mean, it takes a team to get through this. And of course, this is affecting us worldwide. I know some people, they have different opinions on it. But what we see, especially with young ones, the ones that have comorbidities, is you can be a young person, perfectly healthy, you can get COVID-19 and be extremely sick, or you can be just fine. You may just have very few symptoms. But when it comes to the elderly, the comorbidities, the young ones, maybe infants, it's a lot more difficult for them to fight it. Each case is always different. I mean, we've seen on the news where someone could be just fine, and the next thing, they're in the ER and having complications. But you have to remember those that maybe have infections. They're more prone to infections, they just had surgery, they have COPD. It's so much more difficult for them to fight this if they were to get it.

Nick Gosnell:

Rebeka Jones is a licensed nursing home administrator with Hutchinson Health and Rehab here in Hutchinson. For more information on her facility, you can go to hutchinsonhealthandrehab.com. And we thank her for her time and being a part of this episode of COVID-19: My Story. If you have a COVID-19 story to tell, feel free to email us at [email protected], that's [email protected], with your details, and we will reach out to you if we have time on COVID-19: My Story in an upcoming week. Thanks for listening to COVID-19: My Story on hutchpost.com and your favorite podcast app.