November 19, 2020
In late February, as the prospect of a COVID-19 pandemic began dawning on the conscience of our nation, Kingston Healthcare Company, headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, began charting a gameplan to defend their 14 senior living communities.
An emergency task force was organized to monitor and implement new guidelines set forth daily by the CDC and local health departments. A dedicated team was assembled to secure and distribute PPE supplies amidst a national shortage. A no visitor policy and guidelines to reduce the risk of staff exposure to the virus outside of the community were instituted.
As COVID-19 cases proliferated across the country and into congregate living communities throughout much of the year, Kingston Residence of Santa Fe was one of the few assisted living and memory care communities to resist the advancements of the virus.
Cases of COVID-19 persisted and spiked in New Mexico throughout the months of October and November, often increasing its average of reported positive cases by more than 50% each day, now culminating with a newly instituted stay at home order by New Mexico Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Despite our sustained efforts, Kingston Residence of Santa Fe experienced their first positive case for a resident on October 15th. Having pre-planned response scenarios in place, Kingston moved quickly to implement protective measures and completed a modification of our building to open a dedicated isolated respiratory unit.
Even with the precautions taken to contain the virus, a total of 34 residents tested positive for COVID-19. While there have been losses amongst our resident population, all residents have been tested and we are encouraged to share that 25 have recovered and since tested negative. According to CDC data, the death rate for people over the age of 85 who contract COVID-19 is 32.2%.
We are elated to announce that we were able to close our respiratory unit on November 10th. The perseverance of our caring staff has made all the difference. We have witnessed incredible resolve from our nurses, aides, hospitality teams and others who were impacted by the virus and returned to work following confirmation of a negative test result.
We are grateful to team members from our Kingston facilities who volunteered to relocate to Santa Fe temporarily to ensure the high care standards for our residents were upheld. A Purple Caregiver Hero lunch, hosted by Kingston, is scheduled to honor employees and caregivers, all of whom demonstrated courage and commitment in the midst of an outbreak that tested and strengthened everyone's resolve.
The incredible bonds between our care staff and residents was evident throughout this trying period. Vanessa Valerde, an employee of 5 years, went as far as to care for a resident's geriatric canine while they recovered from COVID-19. ‘Princess’ was treated to regular exercise and a delectable diet as she awaited reuniting with her family.
We have been very fortunate to be supported by officials at the CDC and our local health department. We'd like to extend a special thank you to Montecito, AR Medical, Beehive Homes, Beth Hamilton, Century Bank, Comfort Keepers, Home Instead, Santa Fe Care Center and Ambercare who offered support through meals, letters of appreciation and other donations that helped us to take pause and provide additional recognition to our staff.
These acts of empathy and generosity were deeply appreciated by everyone in our community. Most of all, we are thankful to our residents and their families. Their grace, bravery, and patience in the face of adversity will forever be imprinted upon our hearts. As we look forward to a return to normalcy, we are steadfast in our calling to deliver the highest standard of care and safety to our residents. The prospects of a vaccine is welcome news to everyone in our industry, and Kingston is proactively working with health officials and vendors to coordinate access to supplies when they become available.
We ask that everyone in the Santa Fe community continue to take every precaution possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as we, and our peers in healthcare work vigilantly to protect everyone under our roof.