Pandemic Preparedness and Response Team
In early March 2020, Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey assembled its COVID-19 Response Team in order to plan, communicate and implement stringent infection control protocols across its senior health and living programs, housing communities, and social service programs. We modeled our policies and practices to the CDC and the Department of Health requirements and continue to perform revisions as necessary. Daily team communication was essential. We continually drew on each other’s strengths to make important, life-saving decisions for our residents, employees, and the community-at-large.
Our Response Team is led by our Vice President of Clinical Services, and includes Directors from every department within our organization, as well as representatives from our partner organizations. Collectively, we continue to manage every aspect of resident and patient care. The health of our patients and residents, their families, and our employees continues to be our highest priority.
We have progressed through some very difficult times. However, we are still intently vigilant and continue with precautionary measures throughout our programs, including:
- Visitation is limited in time and number of visitors.
- Social distancing is being strictly enforced. This applies to everyone — maintaining a safe distance of 6 feet or more.
- Non-essential personnel are working remotely.
Screening for Symptoms:
- All essential personnel are screened upon entering our senior care communities and are provided a mask and the directive to wear it at all times, in all places. This includes all of our staff, as well as the staff of Nutrition Management, SpiriCare and Journey Hospice, and all contracted agency and privately paid aides for residents. All are reminded often to self-monitor for symptoms while at work and at home. Staff screening upon entry of building includes temperature and evaluation of these criteria:
- Signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat.
- In the previous 14 days, has had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, or under investigation for COVID-19, or are ill with respiratory illness.
- Traveled internationally within the past 14 days to areas with sustained community transmission. For updated information on affected countries visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- We have no medical role in Crane’s Mill Independent Living, but we continually remind these residents to self-monitor for symptom and follow the state’s guidelines.
Enhancing Infection Control Protocols
- All essential personnel are wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at all times while on shifts and are receiving numerous in-service education on infection control, proper handwashing and contact precautions. When staff directly care for residents, they also wear face shields.
- More frequent disinfecting and extensive cleaning and sanitizing are being conducted throughout our buildings, especially on high touch areas.
Increased Monitoring of our Senior Care Residents:
- We continue to be even more vigilant than our usual monitoring practices.
- All residents have a pendant that allows them to contact staff instantaneously.
- Additional staffing has been acquired from nursing agencies to ensure that our residents are receiving the care they need. We are following the current CDC guidelines for these staff members.
- Asymptomatic Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing residents are tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, as are frontline staff in those areas.
- Regardless, we know many people do not show symptoms at all, or do not show symptoms for a length of time. We consider each staff member and resident a possible carrier of COVID-19; testing does not change our precautionary actions.
LSMNJ continues to make every possible effort to keep our residents, patients and employees safe and healthy. We will continue to remain vigilant to implement additional precautions and protocols as recommended by the CDC and the NJ Department of Health as additional findings are shared with us.