Update: Preparedness and Management of Coronavirus/COVID-19

Updated: December 18, 2020

As we continue to experience the virus’ impact in our broader communities, Ecumen’s focus continues to be on keeping those we serve safe and connected with their loved ones. 


While many safety protocols remain in place for those in our senior living communities, we’re pleased to provide a number of ways for our residents to safely connect with family and friends. These connections are vitally important to the health and well-being of those we serve. Following guidance from state Departments of Health, some of our communities have begun welcoming back visitors indoors, as well as scheduled care visits from designated Essential Caregivers. 


Ecumen has had an interdisciplinary Health Safety Team working full time since late February, 2020, to lead our ongoing COVID-19 safety measures. The virus most dramatically impacts older adults—the people we serve every day. The risk for adverse outcomes increases at age 60, with the highest incidence of risk at age 80 and above. We continue our focus on the health and safety of those we serve and our team members, having implemented numerous safety protocols to reduce the occurrence and transmission of the disease. And we are prepared to safely care for residents who may be on COVID precautions.


As an organization, we are committed to transparent and timely reporting of any occurrences of the virus to our assisted living, memory care, and long-term care residents, their family members, our team members, and to our state and federal health agencies. We continue to carefully follow guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and our local and state health agencies in our ongoing effort to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities.


We thank our dedicated and trained caregivers.


Together, we will combat COVID-19.


COVID-19 Vaccination Information

  • Why Should I Get Vaccinated?
    • Protect myself and my family
    • Help stop spread in the community
    • The vaccine — along with other measures like wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing — will be an important tool in helping to end the pandemic
    • The vaccine is at no cost to you
  • How Will the Vaccines be Administered?
    • The vaccines will be administered on-site by licensed nurses and pharmacists
  • Are the COVID-19 Vaccines Safe?
    • Yes, safety is the most important priority in vaccine approval
    • To assess safety FDA typically advises that a minimum of 3,000 participants are included in the trial.  The current COVID-19 vaccine trials include 30,000 to 50,000 participants
    • Monitoring for safety will continue as the vaccine is distributed to the public
    • It’s common for about 50% of those vaccinated to experience mild, short-term symptoms shortly after receiving the vaccine
  • Why Should We Trust This Vaccine?
    • The FDA is using the same strict standards that it has for decades
    • No steps are “skipped”
    • The part of vaccine development that takes the longest is the basic research. In this case, we lucked out because much of the research used to develop this vaccine started in 2003 from viruses similar to COVID-19 (like SARS-CoV-1).
    • Two independent advisory committees are reviewing the results. Members and experts of these committees have no conflict of interest and are not associated with any vaccine manufacturers
      1. The Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) that advises the FDA
      2. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that advises the CDC
  • How Effective are These Vaccines?
    • Both vaccines had similar efficacy with different race, ethnicity and age


Pfizer (BNT162b2) Moderna (mRNA-1273)
Efficacy Overall 95% protection from having an infection from COVID-19 94.1% protection from having an infection from COVID-19
Both vaccines had similar efficacy with different race, ethnicity, and age


  • Why Don’t We Have More Information About the Vaccine?
    • Most of our Ecumen communities expect to receive the Moderna vaccine. Once it is approved, we will have more information, and we will share it as soon as we have it.
  • Can I get COVID-19 from the Vaccine?
    • No. These vaccines do not contain “live” COVID-19 virus.
    • Both are mRNA vaccines:
      • Pfizer (BNT162b2)
      • Moderna (mRNA-1273)
  • What is an mRNA Vaccine?
    • mRNA technology is new in vaccine production but is already being used in cancer treatment. It has been studied for more than 10 years.
    • COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece that looks like the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus.
    • Our bodies recognize that this protein should not be there, so they build antibodies that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.
  • Can the Vaccine change my DNA?
    • No, it cannot.
  • How Long Will I Be Protected by the COVID-19 Vaccine?
    • Most of the vaccines are 2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart
    • Protection occurs 1-2 weeks after the second dose
    • We will most likely not know how long the vaccine will be protective once we receive it.  We will know more as more time passes in the current research
    • May need to have vaccine shots for COVID-19 on a regular basis (like the flu shot)
  • Will I Still Need to Wear a Mask?
    • Yes! Similar to other vaccines, a large number of people in the community will need to get vaccinated before transmission drops enough to stop the use of masks.
  • Should I Get the Vaccine if I Already Had COVID-19?
    • Yes! Even if you have had COVID-19, it is important to get vaccinated. It could give you longer or better protection against the disease.
    • Yes! Even if you have positive antibodies, you should get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • More Information

Ways to Connect

  • Essential Care Visits: Many of our communities are welcoming designated care providers back to the community, following strict safety protocols. More details available from each community.
  • Indoor Visits: We are following MDH guidelines on safely re-opening our Minnesota communities to indoor visits. Each community is regularly assessing their current status as it relates to the Department of Health guidance. More details are available from each community.
  • Outdoor Visits: We are welcoming extended family and friends for these visits, following specific Department of Health safety protocols. Some communities offer “Connection Stations.” More details available from each community.
  • Window Visits: Open window visits are welcomed, with physical distancing of 6 feet. More details available from each community.
  • Virtual Visits: Use our Stay Connected technology to schedule a time for a video chat.
  • Letters, phone calls, and text messaging.

Ongoing Safety Protocols for Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-Term Care:

  • Team Member Health Screening: Checking temperatures on arrival and at the end of shifts
  • Essential Caregiver Screening and personal protective equipment: Sign-in and health screening on arrival and appropriate PPE for duration of visit
  • Masks for all outdoor visits 
  • In-room activities as well as some safe distanced group activities in many of our communities
  • Safely distanced dining or in-room dining
  • The use of face masks and all appropriate PPE by team members to reduce transmission of the virus 
  • Those we serve are wearing face masks when receiving cares or when out of their apartments
  • We’re prepared to care for individuals on COVID precautions, following all safety protocols for isolation, PPE and care
  • We continue to focus on infection control and prevention, following all CDC guidelines
  • We have identified a dedicated part of our campuses, should it be needed, to care for our residents who may be recovering from COVID-19 and still be on COVID precautions
  • We’ve established a Resident & Family Resource Line (1-844-614-2498) for approved resident representatives to call with health questions about their loved ones – available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT Monday through Friday

Indoor Visitor Policies:

  • The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently issued overarching guidance on criteria recommendations for safely re-opening our community to indoor visits as we continue to protect the health of our residents and team members. Each of our Minnesota communities will be evaluating their status and updating residents and families on a weekly basis.
  • In many of our communities, we’ve implemented Essential Caregiver visits, designating specific individuals that are able to schedule time to come in and resume or provide many of those care services. Details are available at each community. We are carefully following the guidelines provided by our Departments of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • We are following the guidelines provided by our Departments of Health for those living in our independent living communities. We continue to encourage the use of masks and safe physical distancing of 6-feet. We also continue to follow established prevention procedures in these buildings, including frequent hand washing and the cleaning and disinfecting of shared areas and frequently touched surfaces, among other steps.

New Residents:

We are welcoming new residents to our communities across our organization every day. We have a dedicated team ready to listen and help you learn more about our communities. We’ll take you on a virtual tour and address your individual questions. We’ve developed an easy process for move-in to ensure that your loved one is safe and comfortable. Ecumen’s commitment to the physical, social, and emotional well-being of those we serve has been constant for more than 150 years.


We are partnering with our state health agencies for guidance on proactive testing for residents and team members in several of our communities. This testing is a helpful tool in identifying potential asymptomatic COVID-19 positive cases that may not otherwise be identified, to support our goal of reducing the transmission of the virus at our communities.


Q: May I visit my loved one?

A. We’re committed to connecting you with your loved one in as many ways as possible. We’ve developed a number of options for you to connect in-person via outdoor or window visits, as well as virtually via Zoom. Many of our communities are also opening to Essential Caregiver scheduled appointments and we are following Department of Health guidelines on safely opening our communities to extended visitors. Please contact the community directly to determine if they currently are welcoming additional visitors.

Q: May I do an in-person tour of the building?

A. At this time, we are offering virtual tours and a number of other personalized ways to help you get to know the community you’re considering. We request that you contact us so that we can share more information.

How are your residents staying busy?

A. We continue to develop new activities to keep those we serve engaged. We’re exploring new hobbies like songwriting, poetry, journaling, or art projects. Where possible, we’ve started to have small group activities, practicing safe distancing.

Q. How will I know if there is an occurrence of COVID-19 in an Ecumen community?

A. We’re actively monitoring our assisted living, memory care, and long-term care residents as well as our team members, and we are informing our residents, their family members, and our team members, as well as all appropriate state and federal departments of health, on the occurrence of COVID-19 at one of our communities. We have a clearly defined plan on how to proceed following all safety protocols with a COVID positive test. Should it be needed, we will create a designated part of our campus to care for residents who are recovering or asymptomatic with COVID-19.

Q. Do you have adequate staff and equipment to care for my loved one if you have any individuals who are COVID-positive?

A. At this time we have appropriate supplies to care for individuals on COVID precautions. We also have strategies in place should this become an issue of concern. We regularly connect with our local and state health agencies. We have the experience of knowing how to designate a dedicated group of caregivers to care for those who are ill or recovering, ensuring both adequate protective wear and consistency of care for the comfort of those we’re serving.

Q. What can I do?

A. Ecumen remains committed to the safety and well-being of those we serve, our team members and our greater communities. Please remember to practice good self-care. It’s important that you stay healthy so you can support your loved one. Be sure to contact your health care provider if you have symptoms such as a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Practice physical distancing and please stay in touch with your loved ones with frequent phone calls, texts, video chats, and emails, as well as window visits and outdoor visits, if an option.

You can join us in supporting our COVID-19 preparedness efforts. Please consider making a donation online today at www.ecumen.org/together or reach out to Ecumen’s Philanthropy Team at philanthropy@ecumen.org | 651-766-4343. A gift of any amount will help us support those among us who are most impacted by COVID-19 with protective gear, resources for social connectedness, and more. Your generosity has a direct and immediate impact. Thank you!


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Link
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): Link


  • State Department of Health Resources:
    • Minnesota Department of Health: Link
    • Idaho Department of Health: Link
    • Indiana Department of Health: Link
    • Michigan Department of Health: Link
    • North Dakota Department of Health: Link
    • Ohio Department of Health: Link
    • Tennessee Department of Health: Link
    • Wisconsin Department of Health: Link