Responding to COVID-19: Protecting Residents, Families and Team Members
Our Commitment to Getting Residents and Staff Vaccinated
After careful consideration, our leadership team at Sinceri Senior Living has made the decision to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all of our team members (employees) over the coming months. This decision was not made lightly, but our team believes we are duty-bound to receive the vaccine to protect our residents, essential employees, resident families, and the healthcare partners working with each of our communities across the country.
“The protection of our residents and team members is paramount. After careful consideration, we have made the decision to make COVID-19 Vaccination a mandatory requirement for all of our team members who are a part of the JEA Family, barring any exemption due to religion, pre-existing conditions, applicable State laws and ownership group preference.”, shared Chris Belford, Chief Executive Officer, Sinceri Senior Living.
Belford continued, “Over the past year, COVID-19 has challenged our industry in new and complicated ways. However, thanks to our diligent team members who have already received the COVID-19 vaccine series, and their adherence to our enhanced safety protocols, our residents have experienced safety and security in each of our communities. We believe that mandating the vaccine for all healthcare workers is a vital step towards ending COVID-19. Choosing to work in healthcare means choosing to do the very best for the patients/residents/clients that you are serving. Keeping them safe from infection is critical to the process of healthcare, especially when working with seniors and those with pre-existing conditions.”
Effective August 1st, all new team members of Sinceri Senior Living must receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose within 30-days of hire. Current personnel will be given until September 1st to receive their first vaccine dose. Those with pre-existing health conditions (requires physician approval), or religious exemption must complete a waiver to be considered exempt from this policy.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise yet again, many new cases are from unvaccinated individuals and those who have been infected with one of the COVID-19 variants.
Angie Fleenor, Vice President of Clinical Services, Sinceri Senior Living, had this to share about the COVID-19 variants and their impact on a vaccine mandate, “These variants are quick to spread and may lead to an increase of COVID-19 cases, resulting in more hospitalizations and deaths. Thankfully, we know that the vaccines are safe and effective against COVID-19 and its variants. And for those who have held off receiving the vaccine for fear of side effects and safety, over 317 million vaccine doses have been administered in the last six months, with few experiencing mild side effects, while most have no side effects. We believe this is yet another vote of confidence towards our decision to mandate the vaccine for our team members.”
To encourage participation in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, our team has also launched our Vaccine Ambassador program and Reunited Campaign.
Our Vaccine Ambassador program includes individuals who are nominated by their supervisors at each community to help encourage, educate, and empower others to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. These Ambassadors are given weekly training, along with the latest CDC data on the COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to creating video testimonials that describe their experience receiving the COVID-19 vaccine series. This program is running in conjunction with our Reunited Campaign to help put the direct impacts of COVID-19 in perspective.
Reunited is all about families coming back together after a long period of separation. This campaign focuses on the effects of the pandemic on our residents, along with their relationships and connectedness with loved ones including spouses, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and more. The mission of Reunited focuses on engaging our team members to practice Caring Together by receiving their COVID-19 Vaccinations. Through these efforts, we look forward to reducing visitation restrictions and PPE use in communities where residents, team members, and all visitors are fully vaccinated.
Through these efforts and our collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, we are confident that increased vaccinations for team members, residents, families, and our vendors will all create a vital shield of protection for all of the seniors that we serve.
Disclaimer: Sinceri Senior Living’s vaccine mandate does not apply to employees with a pre-existing condition, religious exemption, those working in a select community whose ownership group has declined to participate in the vaccine mandate, or those living in a State that does not allow vaccine mandates.
Time with loved ones is something we’ve all missed, and is vitally important to our residents’ overall health and well-being.Isolation and separation have taken a significant toll on our residents and families, and we want to thank them all for their patience and support during this very difficult time. Adequate vaccination rates will potentially allow us to reintroduce indoor visitation on a community-by-community basis, according to state and county regulations. For the health of our residents and staff, we sincerely appreciate families and friends joining us in our mission to ensure safe communities with the highest levels of vaccination possible.
What are the new recommended CDC/CMS visitation guidelines for senior living communities?
Currently, the majority of our communities allow some form of family visitation, regardless of vaccination status per state and county regulations; however, strict infection protocols are in place to mitigate COVID-19 infection.
The CDC and CMS recommended on March 10, 2021, that if a resident is fully vaccinated, the resident can choose to have close contact (including touch, and yes, HUGS) with a visitor while wearing a well-fitting mask and performing hand hygiene before and after the visit. These recommended visitations will not occur in specific situations:
If less than 70% of residents are fully vaccinated, and the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate is greater than 10%
If a resident has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or not, until the resident has met the criteria to discontinue quarantine or discontinue transmission-based precautions
What does it mean to be ‘fully vaccinated’?
Per the CDC’s Public Health Recommendations for Vaccinated Persons, ‘fully vaccinated’ refers to a person who is greater than two weeks past the date of receiving the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna) or who is greater than two weeks past the date of receiving a single-dose vaccination (Johnson & Johnson).
How do I know if indoor visitation is allowed now in my loved one’s Community?
While the CDC and CMS do not govern our communities, our sincere hope is that the states and counties that regulate our communities will soon adopt these recommendations. Please consult with the individual Community for more specific and current information on visitation guidelines.
Are there COVID-19 rules in place for visitors after vaccination?
Infection prevention is a core component of quality assurance in all of our communities. We take the health of our residents, family and staff very seriously, and that begins with prevention. Regardless of how visits are conducted, certain core principles and best practices are in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and help keep everyone safe.
We provide instructional signage and visitor education on COVID-19 signs and symptoms, infection control precautions, and other applicable community practices such as specified entrances, routes and exits throughout our communities. The CDC and CMS both encourage outdoor visits as much as possible.
You can expect the following to occur when you visit (this is not an all-inclusive list):
Screening:We will screen upon entry for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Those with signs and symptoms, or those who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 infection within the past 14 days, will be denied entry, regardless of the visitor’s vaccination status.
Hand hygiene: You will wash or sanitize your hands before and after your visit. Hand sanitizer is preferred, and is offered throughout the Community.
Face mask or face shield: Masking is required that covers mouth and nose, and surgical masks are preferred. If you do not have a mask, our Community will happily provide one.
Cleaning and disinfecting: Our staff clean and disinfect high-frequency touch surfaces often in our Community.
Physical distancing: Please maintain at least 6 ft. from other residents, visitors and staff members.
Additional state- and county-specific infection control practices may also be in effect.
If my loved one and I are fully vaccinated, why must we still follow COVID-19 rules?
The CDC’s most recent recommendations address only private gatherings for vaccinated people, and do not address communal living or healthcare settings. Each senior living community is governed by the state and county in which they are located. These government entities consider CDC and CMS recommendations but ultimately make their own regulations. We know that while COVID-19 case numbers are falling, uncertainties lie ahead as new variants are discovered. Rules and guidelines will vary by community, and will remain flexible.
While the virus is still active in our country, we hope that visitation rules may relax, but we also recognize they may again be reined in as conditions change. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we work diligently to protect our residents’ and team members’ health and safety.
Disclaimer: State and county recommendations per Community supersede the CDC and CMS recommendations for visitation guidelines. The Community has the right to enforce stricter visitation policies based on COVID-19 transmission risk and rates.
Sinceri Senior Living is committed to the health and safety of our residents, families and team members. This is why we are pleased to announce that we will be making the COVID-19 vaccination available for all of our residents and team members as the vaccine is released by federal, state, and local health authorities.
We are encouraging all of our residents and team members to receive the vaccine to protect not only themselves, but their families as well. We believe that in order to eradicate COVID-19, it is our civic duty to receive the vaccine.
Vaccine clinics are being coordinated with our Pharmacy partners and on-site clinics will be provided in 3 visits over the course of 2 months. Both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines include a series of 2 vaccinations. The initial vaccination provides about 55% of coverage, and the booster shot – which follows 21-28 days later – boosts immunity to 94-95%.
The Pfizer Vaccine has received the Emergency Use Authorization, with other vaccines to follow. For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: https://www.cdc.gov/
Team Members at Sinceri Senior Living communities will still be following social distancing and PPE protocols, even after receiving the vaccinations. This is in order to further reduce exposure and the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
In response to COVID-19, our leadership team has elevated existing infection control policies and procedures to meet or exceed precautionary measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which also align with applicable federal, state and local health department guidelines. With a focus on prevention and to limit the risk of exposure, our current measures include:
Restricting all visitation except for essential healthcare providers
Screening all staff and essential visitors upon arrival to the community
Suspending tours in our communities
Frequent hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water, washing for at least 20 seconds
Frequent daily cleaning of commonly touched environmental surfaces to decreases environmental contamination
Standard precautions, such as wearing masks, gloves, and gowns as situations warrant their use
Potential residents are screened before move-in for symptoms of active respiratory illness. Current residents are monitored for signs and symptoms of illness daily.
Staff screen residents for fever and respiratory symptoms, i.e. shortness of breath, new or change in cough and sore throat, and perform pulse oximetry for changes in oxygen saturation as needed. Staff will report any noted symptoms of resident illness to their supervisor.
Residents who are noted to have active signs of COVID-19 illness, who have traveled to restricted areas or are known to have been exposed to someone with a recent COVID-19 diagnosis will be placed on isolation precautions and referred to the local public health department and primary care provider.
Residents with COVID-19 suspected illness needing transport to an acute care facility will have emergency transport and the emergency room will be notified before transport of suspected symptoms. Daily disinfection of resident’s apartments will be provided during illness outbreaks by staff.
Please help us keep our residents safe by following the visitation guidelines directed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This is for the safety of our residents and compliance with CMS guidelines. Again, all visitation is currently restricted at this time except for essential medical personnel. As a further precaution, we request that residents remain in the community to prevent the additional risk of exposure to COVID-19.
This situation is ever-changing and we will work diligently to keep you updated as updates occur. In order to keep families connected with their loved ones, we are able to offer Skype or FaceTime visits. Please contact your family member’s community to schedule a time and our team will assist you.
JEA communities are currently restricting non-essential personnel, including volunteers, from entering our communities to prevent the introduction of COVID-19. Staff will be prohibited from working unless they have been screened at the beginning of each shift. This includes cough, body aches, fever of 100.4 or higher, and/or shortness of breath, new or change in cough, and sore throat.
Staff who develop symptoms of an infectious illness should notify their supervisor immediately. If a staff member is ill, they will be directed to immediately put on a face-mask and self-isolate at home. Staff who are noted to have active signs of COVID-19 have traveled to restricted areas or are known to have been exposed to someone with a recent COVID-19 diagnosis will be referred to the local health department and may be asked to self-quarantine until cleared by the local public health department before they can return to work.
Our communities are currently keeping a record of other facilities where COVID-19 is present. If a staff member works in/has worked in another facility where there is a COVID-19 outbreak, the employee will not be allowed to work in this facility.