This page was last updated on 07/14/2020.
An Update to Families and Friends on COVID-19 and Loosening Restrictions
From the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have received regular guidance from the CDC, CMS, ISDH, our Governor and local officials regarding ways to protect our patients. Throughout these months, we’ve continued to adapt our operations to this guidance, even though implementing ongoing changes to their recommendations—among them visitation restrictions, ending communal dining, and in-room activities—has meant difficult changes for all involved. Even so, we’ve all known these changes were necessary to limit potential exposure to the virus by those who are most susceptible. We’ve seen in hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country just how devastating this virus can actually be, and we know that we each must continue to do what we can to fight it.
We want to applaud and thank the patients and families we serve at our Miller’s buildings. We cannot minimize the effects of separation on each of them, but together they continue to be amazingly strong and supportive through this challenging time, and they’ve used many creative ways to keep connecting with the ones they love, including window visits, our Chromebook Visits program, Facebook, and more.
We are delighted that recent guidance has allowed us to begin the gradual process of loosening some restrictions, based on a number of criteria, including Governor Holcomb’s plans for opening Indiana. While this is exciting for all of us, we will need to accept that going forward, nothing will look quite the same as it did before the pandemic. We will still have screening, masks, social distancing, and limitations on visit times, etc. But we know that together we’ll figure out our “new normal”. We’ve seen the resilience of our patients, families, and staff all the way through. This is simply one more step in this long journey.
A few words about the modification of restrictions:
Please be aware that we are still in a rapidly evolving situation and as we look at current or upcoming resumption of more typical activities in our buildings, we will need to proceed with caution and flexibility, remembering that our focus must remain on our overall goal—to protect our patients from the virus the best that we all can.
While we are developing company-wide policies to increase our patients’ opportunities for socialization, each Miller’s campus will be monitoring the health of their individual geographic area, watching for COVID outbreaks in nearby communities, as well as active cases in their own or surrounding buildings. Changes in the presence of the virus such as these may temporarily affect the restrictions and availability of visitation and additional services. Please plan to check with your local Miller’s location to verify the current status and limitations for their patients.
Current restriction changes:
Resumption of Communal Dining
Recent guidance has allowed us to develop a plan for patients to once again eat meals in our dining rooms, while implementing procedures to continue to minimize the risks of introduction of the virus. Each building is developing a schedule to gradually implement communal dining. Successful implementation will require criteria including the following highlights:
- Communal dining will not be practiced if active cases of COVID-19 have been present in the facility in the last fourteen (14) days.
- Dining areas will be pre-arranged so that all patients are seated at least 6 feet apart.
- Dining times and location will be assigned to each patient. Multiple seatings may be used to allow for social distancing to be maintained.
- Tables will not be preset and no tablecloths will be used at this time, along with no water pitchers, centerpieces or menu binders.
- Patients will wear masks to and from the dining room and until ready to eat. Staff will wear surgical masks and aprons, and all will follow the procedures for hand hygiene.
- Staff will assist patients with reporting menu selections in place of the use of menus.
- Tables, chairs and all carts used in the dining areas will be disinfected and rinsed between meals.
- Patients may continue to dine in rooms as desired.
Scheduled Outdoor Visitation
We are pleased to offer patients and family members the chance to visit in person again through scheduled outdoor visits. The guidelines we have been given require strict adherence to criteria intended to limit potential for exposure to the virus and to allow as many patients to participate as possible. Each visitor will be provided with full outdoor visitation guidance on their first outdoor visit. Following are highlights and are subject to change as required:
- Outdoor visitation is permitted in facilities that have had no new COVID-19 cases that originated in the facility within the past 14 days. Recovered COVID-19 patients may participate in outdoor visitation even if the facility has active cases.
- In the event of a confirmed COVID+ employee case before any new facility-onset patient cases are confirmed, the facility will complete contact tracing related to the confirmed positive employee and will quarantine any exposed patients prior to re-starting outdoor visitation. In the event that any of the contact traced patients or another staff member from the same shift and/or unit tests positive, then visitation must stop and the 14 days starts over again.
- Each facility will develop a schedule of visitation hours and days, consisting of 20 minutes each, with sufficient time allotted to disinfect in between visits. Patients and their families may reserve one visitation time slot each week.
- Patients in droplet precaution isolation are not eligible to participate in outdoor visitation.
- The visitation area is clearly marked to indicate the 6 foot distance that must be observed between patients and visitors.
- All visitors must sign in, provide contact information, be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and must also attest to their COVID status, including providing documentation if requested. Individuals displaying any symptoms will not be permitted to visit.
- Patients are limited to 4 visitors at a time, and must be over 12 years of age, except in special circumstances with administration approval.
- Patient and visitors must wear a mask throughout the visit.
- Staff will screen all visitors, supervise all visits and wipe down all visitation benches and chairs after each visit with hospital grade disinfectant.
Please note that the facility may deny outdoor visitation based on the current weather situation or prediction; if it is thought circumstances pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the facility; if visitors fail to follow the facility’s outdoor visitation guidelines; or for any other reason the patient’s well-being is thought to be at risk.
Personal Services: Beauty and Barber Services
Recent changes allow us to once again allow hair care services to Miller’s patients by beauticians and barbers in our facility salons. Salon hours vary by location, and all salons will build their appointment schedules allowing time necessary for disinfectant in between customers, and at the close of each day per our written policy and the guidance received from the Indiana State Department of Health. In addition, salon personnel must supply evidence of a negative COVID test, only one patient or customer is permitted in the salon with the beautician or barber at a time, and each individual must be wearing a surgical mask throughout the appointment.
Upcoming restriction changes:
We continue to receive information from the CDC, ISDH and the Governor regarding additional ways to resume more typical activities in our buildings, such as visitation by essential caregivers; inside visitation for patients and families; and group gatherings and enrichment activities. We are currently writing our policies for these activities based on the guidance we’ve received and we look forward to prudently implementing each step as permitted. We know the affect the resumption of these activities will have in creating the sense of normalcy that we all desire. Be assured that we will continue to communicate with our patients and families as changes occur. In addition, we must all be cautioned that the current prevalence of the COVID-19 virus in various areas of our State may affect the current status of any of these programs with little to no warning. Again, each of us must remain vigilant as we focus on the continued well-being of the patients that we serve and that you care so much about.
We’re encouraging families to keep their contact information updated. We want to make sure we can efficiently communicate with families should there be any new developments and are requesting that they reach out to our facilities with any updates to their contact information.
Any questions should be referred to the facility Administrator or Director of Nursing. Questions can also be asked by calling our toll free COVID-19 hotline at 1-844-647-3767 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.