To protect against coronavirus, Centre County retirement communities limit visitors, cancel events

2020-03-12 | St. Cloud Times

March 12-- Mar. 12--Several retirement communities and nursing homes in Centre County have implemented new policies and procedures amid concerns about the coronavirus.

Older adults are among those at higher risk of serious illness from coronavirus, called COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We have a very vulnerable population, and we want to take every measure to prevent the virus from entering our community," Foxdale Village CEO Rich Lysle said Wednesday. "... As always, the well-being of our residents and staff are of utmost importance to us and we will continue to stay vigilant with our recommendations and communication to everyone."

The State College retirement community limited entry points and is requiring all visitors to check-in at a reception desk, where they will be asked a series of questions about their recent travels and health conditions, Lysle said.

No outside visitors will be permitted in the facility's health center and all events that would have brought visitors into the community were canceled, Lysle said.

All residents who traveled by air or cruise ship were asked to quarantine themselves for 30 days upon their return to the community, Lysle said.

The Village at Penn State also placed additional security at an established entry point so more extensive sanitation and screening may take place, Liberty Lutheran Communications Director Mark Ladley wrote in an email Tuesday.

Visiting hours at the continuing care retirement community were limited to noon to 8 p.m. Large groups and children younger than 14 are prohibited from entering the organization's building, Ladley wrote.

"Our usual operations include many educational opportunities for both staff and residents to learn techniques for wellness and health related information that keeps prevention on the forefront," Ladley wrote. "We expect to continue these activities as we navigate the current situation."

Centre Crest in Bellefonte restricted visitor access as well, Business Development Specialist Autumn Hannagan wrote in an email Wednesday. Only critical or time-sensitive visits will be permitted.

The policy changes fall in line with a recommendation issued Tuesday by the American Health Care Association, which represents more than 13,500 facilities and care providers in the United States.

"This virus is serious and deadly in the elderly -- much more so than in the general population -- and the serious risk of spread and death needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating how to limit visitors," the AHCA wrote.

Symptoms of COVID-19, which may appear two to 14 days after exposure, include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The CDC urged those exhibiting symptoms to contact their health care provider immediately.

Twenty-two cases were reported in Pennsylvania as of Thursday afternoon, according to the state health department. No cases have been reported in Centre County.