Promoting Health & Safety in Our Communities

Published: March 12, 2021

The health and safety of our residents and team members is our top priority. The meticulous care of our buildings and living spaces has always been an important part of caring for the people we serve. Over the past year, we have adjusted our approach to address COVID-19, and have implemented the latest technologies to keep our buildings safe for residents, team members and visitors. Our strategy has been focused on keeping people safe while also adapting to keep residents connected with their loved ones.

We continue to follow safety protocols, including carefully monitoring levels of the virus in our buildings, conducting screening and testing, and cleaning and disinfecting our buildings. Nothing makes us happier than keeping residents and their loved ones connected — and safe!

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.

How We Help People Stay Safe

Air Quality

Keeping the air in our communities clean and healthy is critical—even though you can’t see the outcome. We’ve hired outside professionals to conduct a thorough review of our Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems and are making improvements as necessary. Our communities use portable air purifiers and negative air machines to improve air quality and air flow. Some of our communities also have installed air disinfection and purification equipment, which uses GPS needlepoint bipolar ionization technology that eliminates airborne particulates, odors and pathogens.

Screening

We actively screen everyone who comes into our communities. This process includes confirming they have no COVID symptoms as well as a temperature check. We are in the process of automating this screening process so that our team members have even more time to focus on direct care of our residents.

COVID Testing

Ongoing testing for COVID has been an important way to control the spread of the virus in our communities. We regularly test our team members and residents following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state departments of health.

Cleaning, Disinfecting and Monitoring

We have increased our cleaning and disinfection routines and use EPA List N disinfectants. As an added measure, we have implemented Enviral Tech surface testing in our communities to ensure that high-touch surfaces are free from COVID and Influenza viruses.

Masks and PPE

We are following all recommended guidance on masks and personal protective equipment. We also continue to follow recommendations on physical distancing.

Hand Hygiene

We’ve increased the number of hand sanitizing stations throughout our communities, and have signage reminding people to regularly wash their hands.

How We Help People Stay Connected

Connections with loved ones are important for our health and wellbeing. Over the past year, Ecumen has been committed to keeping our residents connected to their family and friends through technology, outdoor visits, Connection Stations, compassionate and essential care visits, and once again, Indoor Visits.

Indoor Visits

We are excited to begin welcoming back visitors! Following guidance from the department of health, we have been safely welcoming visitors to our communities as COVID cases decrease in our surrounding communities.

We are grateful to our visitors for following our safety protocols, including:

  • Wearing a mask covering the nose and mouth during the duration of the visit
  • Practicing hand hygiene
  • Screening before entering our buildings

Please visit your Ecumen community to schedule a visit and review their specific visitation requirements.

Did You Know?

State health department requirements also identify when we may need to restrict visits if we experience a positive case of COVID-19 among our residents or team members, or if our broader community experiences a high rate of positive cases.

Other Visiting Options

  • Essential Care Visits: We are welcoming designated care providers back to the community, following strict safety protocols. More details 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.
  • Virtual Visits: Use our Stay Connected technology to schedule a time for a video chat.
  • Letters, phone calls, and text messaging.

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

  • Why Should I Get Vaccinated?
    • Protect myself and my family
    • Advocate through actions for the safety of residents
    • 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
    • Most of the vaccines are 2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart
    • Protection occurs 1-2 weeks after the second dose
  • 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?

 

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

 

  • What Are These COVID-19 Variants People Are Talking About?
    • There are multiple variants of COVID-19 coming from different parts of the world.
      • The UK Variant, The South Africa Variant, The Brazil Variants & California Variant
    • These variants can be 40-70% more transmissible because they attach to our cells easier
    • The vaccines are expected to aid in lowering the spike in cases projected in the U.S. with these new variants
  • 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.
  • How Long Will I Be Protected by the COVID-19 Vaccine?
    • 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)
  • 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.
  • Should I Get the Vaccine if I Have COVID-19?
    • If you have tested positive for COVID-19, and you currently have it, you should not get the vaccine. You should wait until you have tested negative for COVID-19 before getting the vaccine.
  • What Ingredients Are in the Vaccine?
    • The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine contains the following ingredients: messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose.
  • What Are the Side Effects of the Moderna Vaccine?
    • The most common side effects seen are mild to moderate for most. These side effects should go away in a few days:
      • In the arm where you got the shot:
        • Pain
        • Swelling
        • Redness
      • Throughout the rest of your body:
        • Chills
        • Tiredness
        • Headache
  • 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.
  • Can the Vaccine change my DNA?
    • No, it cannot.
  • What If I Think Vaccines Are Harmful Rather than Helpful?
    • The vaccine and COVID-19 are still very new.
    • We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated.
    • What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people.
    • If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick.
    • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.
  • Watch this video to learn more about how mRNA Vaccines work.
  • More Information

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 well-fitting 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

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’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.

Testing:

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.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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. 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 many of our communities are offering in-person tours. Please 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!

TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR OFFICIAL UPDATES:

  • 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
    • North Dakota Department of Health: Link
    • Wisconsin Department of Health: Link