We would like to provide our weekly 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.
As we begin the New Year, we look forward with anticipation as our Skilled Nursing Healthcare Centers receive their first round of COVID-19 vaccines this week. Spang Crest, in Lebanon, begins its vaccination clinic on Thursday, and the Luther Acres Healthcare Center, in Lititz, will have its first distribution on Friday. The combination of getting vaccinated and following the CDC’s recommendations for personal safety offer the best protection from COVID-19.
In Pennsylvania, the state Department of Health controls the access, distribution, clinic dates, and all related aspects of vaccination, and the vaccine is being distributed in three phases, following CDC guidance. Healthcare workers and long-term care residents have been prioritized as the first to receive the vaccine under Phase 1a of the plan. Individuals residing in Personal Care have been placed on Phase 1b. Personal Care residents and staff will receive the vaccine following the completion of Phase 1a. Dates for Phase 1b have not been determined. We will provide updates as soon as the information is available to us.
Luthercare wants all Independent Living residents to have access to the vaccine; however, we have 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 and Personal Care 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, or request a printed copy from your Executive Director or Administrator.
Over the weekend, five Luther Acres Healthcare Center residents tested positive for the virus, and all are asymptomatic and receiving care in our center’s COVID-19 unit. The Healthcare Center is currently providing care to eight residents in the unit. All will remain on the unit until transmission-based precautions are removed. Universal testing of staff and residents continues. Two team members have tested positive and are in quarantine. 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 Lancaster County positivity rate, which is at a level Red, or high community spread. We are looking forward to our first two COVID-19 vaccine clinic dates tentatively scheduled for this Friday and January 30. We will continue regular communication to all resident responsible parties to provide personal updates regarding their loved ones.
Among Independent Living residents, one resident in the Luther Townhome Apartment Building has tested positive and is currently in quarantine. We are saddened to report that a cottage resident, who had previously tested positive for the virus, has passed away.
In Personal Care, three more residents tested positive since our last report, bringing the total to 27 residents and three team members who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks. The staff members are in quarantine. Of the 27 residents who tested positive, 15 are considered recovered and five are receiving care and observation in Personal Care. Four residents who needed a higher level of care were transferred to the COVID-19 unit at our Healthcare Centers.
We are saddened to report that two additional Personal Care residents who had tested positive for the virus have passed away since our last update. Please join us in keeping the resident’s loved ones and our staff in your thoughts and prayers.
St. John’s Herr Estate
In Personal Care, three residents who tested positive for the coronavirus have now recovered. One team member has tested positive and is in quarantine at home. Personal Care residents and campus staff continue to undergo weekly universal testing. 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 who tested positive, four are quarantining in their apartments; five are currently hospitalized; and another is receiving treatment and rehabilitation services at Luther Acres Healthcare Center in Lititz. Seven residents have recovered and are no longer in quarantine.
Spang Crest currently has 33 residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Healthcare Center. There are no positive cases in Personal Care. Staff are following appropriate droplet precautions in all rooms in the Healthcare Center. The positive residents are either in isolation in our COVID unit or isolating in place in their rooms. Five are coming out of quarantine today, and two of them are in the COVID unit and are expected to return to their rooms. We are saddened to report that four 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.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health conducted a focused infection control inspection for COVID-19, as per state regulations, and no deficiencies were found. This Thursday, the first COVID-19 vaccination clinic will begin at Spang Crest for residents and team members.
In regards to team members, we had five new employees test positive following last week’s round of universal testing. 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.