COVID-19: Westford House Emblematic of Global Pandemic; ‘Help Shine a Light,’ Says Physician

Editor’s Note: Dr. Richard Feifer, Chief Medical Officer of Genesis Healthcare, Inc. , responded to a series of questions from WestfordCAT regarding Westford House, a local 123-bed subsidiary of the post-acute care holding company. Genesis is headquartered in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

*As of May 12 in Westford, there were 129 total cases, 72 active cases, and 52 recovered cases, according to the Westford Health Department.

*Confirmed cases in Massachusetts as of May 12: 79,332; Number of Individuals tested 401,496

*Total cases in U.S. as of May 12 – 1,342,594; Total deaths in U.S. – 80,820

*Worldwide as of May 12: 4,278,180: cases per 1 million people : 550; recovered: 1,502,620; deaths: 292,376  [Continue below]

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Westford House. COURTESY PHOTO

 

  1. How many total cases have you had? 

To date, Westford House has had 35 residents and 7 staff members test positive for COVID-19. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by COVID-19 during this difficult time, especially the families of the 2 residents who passed away.

  1. How many recovered? 

In order to deem a resident recovered, we are looking for two consecutive negative COVID-19 test results. At Westford House, it is still too early to conduct these tests.  Note: 82 percent of the residents that tested positive initially were asymptomatic.

  1. Do you have enough protective gear? 

It is no secret that the entire nation has been experiencing personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages. As part of a large national organization, we have fortunately been able to leverage all possible avenues to obtain PPE, including shifting supply around from location to location as needed. We would also like to thank the Chinese American Association of Lexington for donating thousands of masks during this difficult time.

  1. Do you need any community help?

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation playing out across the country and once it enters a nursing home, its spread is incredibly challenging to prevent no matter how many precautions and controls you have in place. We need the community to help shine a light on the need for state and federal support to help the nursing home industry during this unprecedented time.

  1. Do clients share rooms? 

At Westford House, as well as all of our facilities, we believe it’s better to overreact than underreact in the face of a pandemic. We have been extremely stringent on visitation restrictions, use of personal protective equipment and many other precautions at our facilities. We’ve followed guidelines and protocols set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in some cases getting out in front of them. Some of these steps include (and a full list can be found here):

  • Screening residents and patients for symptoms – three times daily
  • Actively screening and taking temperatures of all staff upon building entry
  • Requiring all staff to wear personal protective equipment
  • Visitation restrictions, except for exceptional circumstances, such as end-of-life situations
  • Residents are quarantined to their rooms which are semi-private and private
  • Cancellation of all outside medical appointments except for medically necessary, time-sensitive and life-saving treatments, such as dialysis and chemotherapy
  • To make things easier for families, we have implemented the ability for families and loved ones to perform video conferencing calls using Zoom technology
  • We have notified patients, residents and families immediately, and update them daily via video conference calls
  1. What would you like Westford residents to know? 

We want to let Westford residents know that our employees are true heroes during this pandemic. They are coming to work each and every day to care for their patients and residents. They are doing this at personal risk and continue to be our front lines. We are truly humbled by their dedication and compassion during these difficult conditions.