Maplewood Township Reports 1 COVID-19 Death in a Retirement Home

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Maplewood’s two retirement communities report that they are working to protect residents and staff and are complying with New Jersey Department of Health requirements. Meanwhile, a resident of one of the communities died of COVID-19 late last week.

A representative of Springpoint Senior Living, which manages Winchester Gardens retirement community at 333 Elmwood in Maplewood, confirmed that the fatality was a Winchester Gardens resident.

Julia Zauner, Vice President of Marketing for Springpoint, also confirmed that there are other cases of COVID-19 at Winchester Gardens. During an interview on April 14, Zauner said, “I caution that these numbers are dynamic. But as of yesterday [April 13] there were 4 positive cases among residents and one staff member who had tested positive [at Winchester Gardens].

Zauner reported that all New Jersey senior residence communities are required by the NJ Department of Health to provide notification of someone testing positive for COVID-19 or suspected of being positive within 24 hours to residents, staff and family members. Zauner says that “suspected” means showing showing symptoms and that Springpoint is screening both residents and staff for symptoms.

All staff members are screened before they come into work. If they have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, they are required to stay at home, said Zauner. According to a statement posted to Springpoint’s website (see full statement below), “Staff members who must provide direct care or services to residents are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment as recommended by CDC guidelines.”

Zauner outlined other protocols Springpoint had implemented to safeguard against the spread of the virus. “We started the process about a month ago as an organization and with the communities. We are following the guidelines of local health departments, the state department of health, the CDC, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid.” These guidelines include a strict non-visitor policy, encouraging all residents to comply with the stay-at-home orders issued by the governor, providing delivery of food and supplies to rooms, and evaluating all employees and essential visitors by taking their temperatures and having them complete a screening form. “If they don’t pass, they are not allowed in,” said Zauner.

Springpoint’s website states, “Staff members who must provide direct care or services to residents are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment as recommended by CDC guidelines.”

In addition, Winchester Gardens has suspended all group activities, such as group dining, and is cleaning all high-touch areas a couple times a day throughout the facility.

To make up for the lack of community activity, Zauner says that Springpoint has “created some fun programming on the in-house tv channel,” including exercise programs, concerts and lectures. Residents are also communicating and staying in contact through Zoom meetings and zoom activities.

“We find that they are reaching out to one another too,” said Zauner. “We all understand this is for the common good. The sacrifice now will help us all get through this faster.”

Over at Maplewood Senior Apartments, the low income-affordable facility at 564 Irvington Avenue, property manager Raven Jenkins said that there were no deaths due to COVID-19 at the building. She said should could not disclose whether or not any residents had tested positive for the disease.

In oder to keep residents safe, Jenkins noted, “We have been taking additional precautions, including not allowing anyone in the building except essential medical staff. Also, Jenkins reported, “We have staff on site 24/7 scrubbing every hour on the hour.”

Below is the message from Springpoint Senior Living on precautions being taken with respect to residents’ health and safety:

Update 4/7/2020

Message From Our CEO Anthony Argondizza: Update Regarding COVID-19

Dear Residents, Families, and Staff,

Anthony ArgondizzaAs the number of COVID-19 cases in our region continues to grow, our communities remain resolute in their commitment to take aggressive measures to protect the safety and well-being of residents, staff, and families. The work they are doing is exemplary and as an organization we are providing the resources and full force of our Springpoint expertise to support them in this effort.

Many senior living communities in our area are now reporting positive cases of COVID-19 among both residents and staff. We have received questions regarding our process for notification in the event of a positive or suspected case of COVID-19. Following is an outline of our notification process, which is in compliance with federal, state and local health agencies requirements. Our goal is to provide open communication to the greatest degree possible, but to balance that effort in a way that respects the privacy obligations of our residents and staff.

Springpoint COVID-19 Notification Process

  • If a staff member or resident is identified as positive or under investigation for COVID-19, we immediately notify health officials and/or emergency management officials—as required—as well as our Springpoint COVID-19 Task Force. Based on the guidance from the local, state, and federal officials and our Springpoint professional staff, we develop our response and notification action plan.
  • If an independent living resident is identified as positive, with their consent we notify their family or, as appropriate, their power of attorney or responsible party.
  • Any staff, resident, or family member who may have had exposure due to close contact (as defined by health officials) with the individual who tested positive or is under investigation for COVID-19 are notified in a one-to-one communication and provided with instructions on specific actions they need to take to prevent further transmission and to monitor for symptoms.
  • A written notification is sent to residents, family, and staff once there has been a reported positive case in a community. If you have not received such a communication, then your community has not yet reported a case of COVID-19.
  • Effective 4/6/2020, communities with active cases will distribute a written report indicating the total number of confirmed and suspected cases among residents and staff, and will issue an updated report within 24 hours if there are additional cases.

For reference, attached is a recap of the steps we have taken in our communities in response to COVID-19. We will keep you up to date as our approach and response continue to evolve. Thanks to all of you for your support and words of encouragement as we manage through this unprecedented situation. Our community staff and home office team are going above and beyond—we are so proud of all that they are doing during this extraordinary time.

Anthony Argondizza

Springpoint Continuing Care Retirement Community Response

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), State of New Jersey Department of Health, Delaware Division of Public Health and local health officials have issued guidance specific to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Retirement Communities and Independent Living Facilities. Below is an overview of our response to these guidelines:

  • Stay-at-home orders: We strongly encourage all residents to comply with the stay-at-home orders issued by the governor, which means remaining in your residence. We can provide you with support for deliveries of meals, supplies, medications, and pet care, so you do not need to make unnecessary trips outside the community to the grocery store or pharmacy. These stores pose a high risk of COVID-19 transmission and should be avoided completely at this time.
  • Limit the number of non-essential visitors: A strict no non-essential visitor policy has been implemented in our Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and Independent Living neighborhoods.
  • Screen workers and essential visitors: We screen all employees and essential visitors for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. This includes taking each person’s temperature using a no-touch thermometer and asking about symptoms or potential exposure. Employees are advised that if they develop fever or symptoms of respiratory infection while at work, they should immediately inform their supervisor and leave the workplace.
  • Guidance for sick employees: Sick employees are required to stay home. We have implemented flexible sick-leave policies and to the extent possible flexible attendance policies. We emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene, and ensure hand hygiene supplies are readily available in all areas of our communities.
  • Cancel all public or non-essential group activities and events: The CDC specifically cites staggered meals as an appropriate response. We took this recommendation a step further by eliminating congregate dining completely. We continue to offer free meal delivery to all residents. We have suspended group activities, meetings, and events.
  • Clean and disinfect all common areas and shared facilities: All common areas throughout the community are cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day, paying particular attention to “high touch” surfaces such as door handles, faucets, toilet handles, light switches, elevator buttons, handrails, countertops, chairs, tables, and shared exercise equipment.
  • Encourage personal protective measures: We have encouraged residents and employees alike to limit their interactions and to maintain proper social distancing. Staff members who must provide direct care or services to residents are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment as recommended by CDC guidelines.
  • Limit risk of transmission: We have eliminated all non-emergency visits to resident apartments. This includes any social visits by employees, routine maintenance services, and routine housekeeping services. We only enter a resident’s apartment for emergency medical, maintenance, or sanitation purposes and employees wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Inform residents, workers, and visitors about COVID-19: We have been communicating with all our stakeholders since early March. This includes written communication, verbal communication, and postings throughout the community.

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