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COVID-19 Updates

Letter to our Supporters

Dear Serving Seniors’ Supporters:

I know many of you likely have concerns about the Coronavirus.   I thought it important to share what Serving Seniors is doing to ensure a healthy environment for our clients, volunteers and employees.   We are working to carefully balance overall health concerns with the goal of ensuring our clients receive critical services like meals.

It is our utmost priority to keep everyone associated with Serving Seniors healthy and safe.   We are utilizing several sources of information to inform our plans.  These include: World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), State of California Health and Human Services website and the County of San Diego Health and Human Services website.   Additionally, we are working with Dr. Eli Aronoff-Spencer, an infectious disease expert from UCSD School of Medicine.  Dr. Aronoff-Spencer has worked with us for several years as an informal “medical director” providing advice on a variety of topics.   He helped us craft our response to the Hepatitis A outbreak two years ago.  He is providing direct guidance on our COVID-19 response.

Here are the key aspects of our response:

1.   Screening – Dr. Aronoff-Spencer is recommending a zero tolerance approach to anyone who is exhibiting symptoms. Everyone – clients, volunteers and staff -- will be screened before entering any of our facilities.  Individuals will not be permitted on site if they are displaying or disclose that they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Sniffles
  • Runny nose

If someone is not allowed on site, educational information will be provided advising them to contact their primary care physician.  If an individual is experiencing symptoms that require immediate attention, EMS will be called. 

2.   Suspected and Confirmed Cases – Per the County of San Diego, we will immediately report any suspected cases of COVID-19 to the San Diego County Epidemiology Unit.   Anyone in the vicinity of a confirmed case will be requested to seek an assessment from their health care provider. 

3.   Cleaning/Sanitation Efforts -- In order to promote best practices for cleaning and sanitation the following measures are being implemented:

  • Handwashing stations will be positioned outside the perimeter of all Serving Seniors’ sites.
  • All individuals entering a Serving Seniors facility will be required to wash their hands before entering the building and dining areas
  • Hand sanitizers will be readily available and well-marked
  • All surfaces will be cleaned with bleach in common areas a minimum of three times per day.

4.   Educational Efforts -- In order to ensure clear and consistent communication among clients, volunteers, and staff members the following educational efforts are being implemented:

  • Screening and informational flyers will be posted in Spanish, Mandarin, English on the outside of Serving Seniors’ buildings and on interior walls, elevators, and other key locations at all sites – will be posted on large poster boards.  Messaging will include our screening protocols, what symptoms to look for and hygiene practices
  • Informational recordings and videos will be played during the dining hours and available online in the three major languages – this will include protocols if an individual is experiencing symptoms on site or off site and referrals to the appropriate health providers and officials
  • The nurse case management team is hosting health education sessions in March on COVID-19 – at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, Potiker Family Senior Residence and Potiker City Heights Residence – this will be in specific sessions and during lunch
  • Staff is receiving training on protocols and recommendations from Public Health Services – County of San Diego, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization. 

5.   Nutrition Services -- Serving Seniors is committed to continuing to provide meals to as many seniors in need while ensuring overall health and safety.  Serving Seniors will continue to maintain the same service delivery at all sites and to our homebound seniors:

  • Distributing prepackaged HDM style trays to any seniors that are asked to leave a site due to health concerns.  This may also be an option for healthy seniors who do not wish to sit in the dining room.  
  • Distributing prepackaged HDM style trays to all seniors dining at the congregate sites to minimize open food trays.
  • Working with our food vendor, Trio Community, to finalize a contingency plan if kitchen operations need to be moved or temporarily suspended, including the production and storage of both frozen and shelf-stable food.

6.  Human Resources -- Serving Seniors will be providing timely updates to all personnel informing them of any new protocols, changes in service delivery, or other pertinent information.  Serving Seniors will be implementing the following strategies based on recommendations by the CDC:

  • Require sick employees to stay home – zero tolerance
  • Emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning
  • Provide all necessary protection gear (e.g. gloves, masks etc.) to employees as recommended by authorities

 

This is a very fluid situation.   We will review all of our protocols and contingencies on a daily basis.   We will adapt and change approach as warranted based on the best information available. Please feel free to contact me at paul.downey@servingseniors.org, if you have any questions.

 

Thanks,

 

Paul Downey

President/CEO