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.
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced changes to its COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan, adding more individuals to the Phase 1a distribution. It now include residents ages 65 and older as well as individuals ages 16-64 with high-risk health conditions. Since the announcement, we have been fielding questions regarding when our Independent Living residents will be able to participate in an on-campus COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Please know Luthercare is doing everything it can to secure a clinic; however, the vaccine is still in extremely limited supply and any information as to when it will increase is limited at best.
Luthercare continues to communicate with CVS Pharmacy and other local healthcare providers to arrange a clinic for Independent Living residents, with no success to date. The Pennsylvania Department of Health controls all access, distribution, clinic dates and related aspects of vaccination. Luthercare has no control over when and how it will be available. Currently, WellSpan Health and Weis Markets pharmacies are advertising vaccinations clinics, but those spaces are very limited, must be scheduled online, and have been filling up very quickly. Luthercare encourages Independent Living residents, perhaps with help from a family member, to acquire a clinic time if you are able. We ask for your patience and trust as we are doing everything possible to secure clinics on our campuses and will provide you with information as soon as we can.
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.
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, or request a printed copy from your Executive Director or Administrator.
The second Luther Acres vaccination clinic for Healthcare Center residents and team members will be held next Friday, January 29, with many receiving their second dose and some receiving their first dose. The third clinic for the Healthcare Center is set for February 19. Since our last update, the date for the first vaccination clinic for Luther Acres Personal Care residents has changed and will now also occur on January 29.
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, two residents tested positive, with one 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 saddened to report that two residents passed away this week from COVID-related complications, and we ask you to keep their families and our staff in your thoughts and prayers. In regards to staff testing, we had seven team members test positive this week. They are in quarantine and will return to work after meeting CDC guidelines. 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 this is the second consecutive week without any residents testing positive for the virus. During staff testing in the Muhlenberg Building, a housekeeper who works part-time in the building tested positive for the virus and is in quarantine. All residents who came in contact with the individual were notified and are in quarantine. Additionally, a housekeeper who provides maid service to Independent Living residents tested positive, and all residents to whom that individual provided services have been notified and are in quarantine.
No new cases have been reported among Independent Living residents. Luther Acres continues to search all avenues for providing a vaccination clinic on site for Independent Living residents.
St. John’s Herr Estate
Personal Care residents and team members are tentatively scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccination clinics on January 31, February 21 and March 14. As a reminder, Independent Living residents are not included in the clinics, as determined by the DOH. St. John’s Herr Estate is pursuing all avenues for providing a vaccination clinic onsite for Independent Living residents.
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. Three residents are receiving rehabilitation services. A cottage resident who tested positive remains in quarantine.
The next Spang Crest vaccination clinic for residents and team members is scheduled for next Thursday, January 28, with many receiving their second dose and some receiving their first dose. The third clinic is set for February 18. Personal Care residents will receive their first round of inoculations during next week’s clinic.
We currently do not have any residents in our COVID-19 isolation units, and all residents tested negative during a round of testing last Thursday. Four team members tested positive from a round of testing last Thursday. They are in quarantine and will return to work after meeting CDC guidelines. All residents and staff were tested again yesterday, and results are pending. Beautician services re-opened this week to first-floor residents.
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.