We would like to provide an update on how COVID-19 is impacting Luthercare communities and remind you of the importance of remaining diligent in mitigating the spread of the virus.
This week, we have been encouraged by the news that our Luther Acres and St. John’s Herr Estate Personal Care residents are scheduled to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations later this month. At the end of last week, we held two successful vaccine clinics for skilled nursing residents and team members at Spang Crest and Luther Acres, and individuals reported few side effects. We’re grateful to our residents and team members for doing their part in stopping the spread of this virus. The combination of getting vaccinated and following the CDC’s recommendations for personal safety offer the best protection from COVID-19. It is important to note that personal mitigation efforts, such as proper hand washing, wearing a mask, and physical distancing, must continue to occur even after getting the vaccine.
We have not yet received any communication from the state Department of Health (DOH) regarding the availability of the vaccine to our Independent Living residents, but we continue to advocate for our Independent Living residents to have access as soon as possible. The DOH controls all access, distribution, clinic dates and related aspects of vaccination. Luthercare has no control over when and how it will be available to you. The CDC, through their Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, did not include Independent Living residents on their list, thus they are not included in the first vaccine group. Luthercare has expressed concern over this to our state association, as have many other Continuing Care Retirement Community providers, but this has not changed the outcome. We will continue to advocate for priority access of Independent Living residents for vaccination. Luthercare’s official position is that any and all individuals who are provided with an opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine should do so.
As a reminder to our residents, mask wearing is required when leaving apartments or cottages, when picking up meals, when going to the store, or anytime you may come into contact with others. This is a critical time, and we ask you to continue to practice these precautions to keep yourself, your neighbors, your friends, and your loved ones healthy and safe.
Visitation to Luthercare communities remains restricted. Visitors are not permitted in Healthcare or Personal Care, with the exception of compassionate care visits. Campus grounds are closed to the outside community; this includes biking and walking on campus. Visitation for Independent Living apartments and cottages is also restricted at this time. If you are an essential adult (age 18+) caregiver, please contact a campus director to arrange a visit. To learn more and review our updated visitation guidelines, please visit the news portion of our website, www.Luthercare.org.
The first Luther Acres vaccination clinic was held on Friday, January 8, with a total of 64 Healthcare Center residents and 138 team members receiving their first dose. The second and third clinics scheduled for the Healthcare Center are set for January 29 and February 19. Additionally, Luther Acres Personal Care received communication from Omnicare/CVS Pharmacy that preliminary vaccination clinics have been scheduled for January 31, February 21 and March 14. While no information has yet been communicated to us on vaccine availability for Independent Living residents, the Veterans Administration has been scheduling vaccination appointments for veterans who reside on this campus, and the local McElroy Pharmacy is apparently accepting reservations for the vaccine.
Universal testing of Luther Acres Healthcare Center residents and team members continues, with employee testing occurring twice a week and resident testing once a week. This week, three residents tested positive, with two being asymptomatic and one being symptomatic. The individuals have been moved to our COVID-19 unit for care and treatment. The unit is currently providing care to four residents. We are pleased to report that one resident who had been on the unit has transitioned to our Rehab to Home unit for continued recovery. While some staff test results remain outstanding from this week’s testing, a nursing team member tested positive and is now quarantining at home. The Healthcare Center is adhering to the regulatory standards regarding continued universal testing from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The Lancaster County positivity rate remains at a level Red, or high community spread. We will continue regular communication to all resident responsible parties to provide personal updates regarding their loved ones.
In Personal Care, weekly testing of residents and team members continues, and no residents tested positive this week. It’s hopeful that all transmission-based precautions in Personal Care will end this coming weekend. During staff testing in the Muhlenberg Building, two Dining Services team members and a salon stylist tested positive for the virus, and all are now quarantining at home. All residents who were in contact with the stylist have been contacted and advised to quarantine for 14 days.
No new cases have been reported among Independent Living residents.
St. John’s Herr Estate
Personal Care residents and team members are tentatively scheduled to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination clinic on January 31, February 21 and March 14. As a reminder, Independent Living residents are not included in this clinic, as determined by the DOH. Independent Living residents should obtain a vaccine elsewhere if it becomes available. Once vaccines are readily available, we can provide transportation.
In Personal Care, there are no cases of coronavirus among residents or team members. Personal Care residents and campus staff continue to undergo universal testing, with staff receiving weekly tests and residents receiving monthly tests unless otherwise recommended. We are adhering to the regulatory standards from the Department of Human Services regarding continued universal testing based on the positivity rate within the county.
Meanwhile, among Independent Living Apartment Building residents, no new cases have been reported. One resident remains hospitalized, and two are receiving treatment and rehabilitation services. A cottage resident has reported a positive case, and the individual is in quarantine.
The first Spang Crest vaccination clinic was held on Thursday, January 7, with a total of 44 residents and 76 team members receiving their first dose. The second and third clinics are scheduled for January 28 and February 18. We do not yet have a scheduled clinic date for Personal Care residents.
Since our last update, Spang Crest had one team member and three residents test positive after routine testing on January 7. The residents were moved to our COVID-19 isolation units, and the team member is quarantining. All employees were tested on Monday, and all results were negative. We have had 27 residents recover and move out of our isolation units, and we’ve been able to close one of our units. We are saddened to report that six residents have passed away after testing positive for the virus. Please join us in sending thoughts and prayers to their families during this difficult time.
Treatment measures remain in place to minimize risk throughout the building. We are adhering to the regulatory standards regarding continued universal testing from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Testing is taking place twice a week due to the Lebanon County positivity rate, which is at a level Red, or high community spread. We will continue regular communication to all resident responsible parties to provide more personal updates regarding their loved ones.
We encourage families and residents to communicate regularly through phone calls, texts, video chat, and other virtual means. We have team members who can help walk you through the process. If you need assistance, please reach out to the Executive Director at your campus. They are:
Luther Acres Executive Director Craig Shelly, 717.626.1171
St. John’s Herr Estate Executive Director Anita Martin, 717.684.0678
Spang Crest Executive Director Dan Deitzel, 717.274.1495
Founded in 1949, Luthercare, a social ministry organization affiliated with the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of Lutheran Services in America, is a leading provider of independent, personal care and skilled care residences in Lancaster and Lebanon counties. Luthercare operates Luther Acres, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Lititz, Pa.; Spang Crest, a rehabilitation center, skilled nursing and memory support personal care community in Lebanon, Pa.; and St. John’s Herr Estate, an independent living and personal care community in Columbia, Pa. Additionally, Luthercare operates PA Keystone Stars-accredited child care and early learning centers in Marietta, Reamstown and Annville. Luthercare, a pioneer in Child Care Programs, also offers a Mentoring Program, which aids home-based child care providers in Lebanon and Lancaster counties.