A message from The Ambassador of Scarsdale
The Ambassador sincerely appreciates the ongoing commitment of our residents, staff, and families to effectively combat COVID-19 in alignment with CDC, State and Local Department of Health and local infection prevention protocols. As we are still learning more about the virus, our knowledge and procedures are changing day to day. We appreciate the difficulty in adhering to the fluidity of the information and we applaud and commend all families and residents who have taken it step by step with us. We take great pride in our response, the selfless commitment of our staff, their attributes of self-discipline and adherence, while holding on to our sense of humor in the darkest hour, saved lives and gave meaning to the word “essential”.
Protecting our Residents
An early goal for The Ambassador was to baseline test our residents for the COVID-19 virus, which was a successful endeavor. With the help of local government officials, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Westchester County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler, Amy Paulin and County Executive George Latimer, we were successful in testing all our residents in early April. Facility wide testing outcomes allowed us to identify asymptomatic positive COVID-19 residents. This was an important component of minimizing risk and exposure and The Ambassador was one of the only facilities to successfully undertake testing in the early days of the pandemic.
The Ambassador, prior to COVID-19, has always focused on safety, wellbeing and protecting our residents. These are amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infection control has always been a primary cornerstone at The Ambassador, with ongoing infection control education for all staff throughout the years. Infection control education protocols and disinfection standards heightened at the onset of COVID-19 in early February of 2020 when it was first announced in the media abroad. We implemented more staff education, including handwashing, wearing masks, gloves, face shields/goggles, proper donning/doffing of PPE, social distancing, and screening all entering with temperature checks and a questionnaire for symptoms and potential exposure to COVID-19.
Staff education included not only awareness of the virus and symptoms, but also the risk of asymptomatic carriers and taking steps to protect themselves from becoming carriers both inside and outside the community. Staff were trained on best practices at work and at home; together we worked to protect each other.
Hospice Care Services
The COVID-19 outbreak presented a difficult and uncertain period for healthcare professionals, residents, and families in communities around the world. With our Enhanced License we have always had a strong commitment to supporting end of life and hospice care. Our partners in hospice care stood alongside us to provide quality end of life support for residents in their Ambassador home. In partnership with hospice, residents are provided clinical, social, spiritual, emotional, and physical care as well as symptom management while remaining in their own home here at The Ambassador Resident directed goals are integrated and interwoven throughout all aspects of care. The goal of hospice is to prioritize comfort, quality of life and individual wishes which we worked hard to adhere to. The expressions of appreciation and thanks expressed to us from Hospice families has been both rewarding and confirmation of the decision to care for Hospice residents as a choice during COVID 19.
Environment & Infection Control
The Ambassador as a matter of routine always utilized EPA approved cleaning products Sani-Cloth Bleach Germicidal Disposable Wipe; *Contact time 4 minutes, Clorox Healthcare Germicidal Disposable Wipe; *Contact time 3 minutes. *Contact time is the time a surface needs to remain wet to completely kill all pathogenic organisms. Deep cleaning occurs every evening on all surfaces and cleaning / sanitizing occurs frequently throughout the day. We collaborated with Westchester County Department of Health and physicians from the CDC to arrange on site visit to review our Infection Control protocols and were reassured when they had no recommendations for any changes in our systems. We continue these systems, not just to protect against COVID 19 but all contagions.
Environment Proactive Enhancements & Implementations for the Future
02Prime Air System
As we now know ventilation systems need to minimize recirculating air to avoid spreading pathogens. Our new system will be installed on our rooftop HVAC units. Using hydrolysis, positively charged hydrogen Ions created from our HVAC Systems. The Ions are used to eradicate air borne pathogens. This technology also eliminates pathogens from surfaces areas. This allows us to continuously cleans the air and all surfaces. Currently a timeline is being established for installation.
Clorox 360: Our staff will be using the Clorox 360 Machine, which is an electrostatic sprayer with that covers all surface areas. This allows our staff to sanitize and cover 18,000 square feet per hour. This EPA approved product will allow us to clean more surface space faster.
The Ambassador implemented a no visitor policy when the COVID-19 hit the area, prior to the Governor enacting a cease visitation policy to facilities. To replace the irreplaceable in-person family visits, we implemented a Facebook Portal, FaceTime, and Skype visits for our families to be able to see their loved one and give some virtual kisses. Scheduled window visits are also permitted. Once approved by the Department of Health, we were able to implement wellness exercises, live outdoor music programs with our Music Therapist and daily walks around the facility grounds. Residents are always permitted to socialize with others, maintaining a social distance of 6ft apart and wearing their masks.
Resident Health Monitoring
In addition to general wellness checks by our nursing staff; Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy by our Rehabilitation Staff, each resident’s temperature and oxygen levels are checked daily. All residents are visited by staff (and nursing) multiple times a day in their apartments. Residents are escorted outdoors by staff and therapists for fresh air and to help maintain mobility and balance. Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapies continue uninterrupted.
Governor Cuomo has issued an Executive Order that all staff are tested weekly for COVID 19 and this is conducted by a mobile health unit at The Ambassador. We very much welcomed this initiative, the outcome of which allows us to protect our residents and each other more effectively. We have implemented a plan for contact tracing and work collaboratively with DOH for any positive employee results.
Resident Testing & Status
We are pursuing another round of testing for our residents but have been unofficially advised that as we have already been tested, and other assisted living facilities have not yet had the opportunity, we may be lower down on the list. Currently no residents are exhibiting any known symptoms of COVID 19 and we have maintained this status for over 3 months. Our team has devised a post COVID response for our residents to combat loss of routine normalcy and lack of family visits which includes a social, clinical, and therapeutic response with outcomes measured individually.
How our residents are getting meals while the dining room has been closed?
We have implemented an in-apartment dining plan where the residents are able to choose from a menu as well as hydration visits by staff. We are awaiting guidance from the Department of Health on re-opening our dining room. When we are once again permitted to dine together, we have a plan of action in place to allow our residents to maintain 6ft social distancing during meals and minimize dining room occupancy.
What are your plans at the facility now that the state has started to re-open?
As a licensed assisted living facility, we are not attached to the phased openings throughout Westchester and the community. We are given our directives from the Department of Health.
What restrictions have been relaxed which impacts residents?
Residents can leave their apartments wearing a mask. They can take walks outside, attend the wellness and music sessions while maintaining 6ft of distance from others. Reduced numbers of residents, maintaining required social distancing and wearing masks can take part in daily activities.
Are residents allowed to leave the building?
We are asking all residents not to go out into the community unless it is medically necessary to do so. We cannot legally restrict our residents from leaving but we are asking them to consider others and remain on site. COVID-19 is not over and going out into the larger community exposes residents and staff to risk of infection.
How do residents know what 6ft apart really is?
Throughout the building we have banners 6ft in length indicating “This is six feet apart”. In common areas, our chairs have been measured and placed at the appropriate distance and we have floor decals to indicate the same. Residents are provided with ongoing education regarding COVID-19 and measures to protect themselves and others, which includes handwashing, wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing of 6ft. Staff can often be heard reminding our residents to stay a bathtub length away from each other!
Is transportation being provided to Doctor appointments?
Transportation is being provided to medically necessary appointments at a limited capacity. Our van is being disinfected in between each use and residents are being advised to wear a mask and gloves.
Will the residents be tested again?
We are pursuing another round of resident testing with the Department of Health.
Are new residents now being admitted to The Ambassador?
Yes, new residents are being admitted. All pre-existing standards of admission are in place, in addition to the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test prior to move in. All assessments are being conducted virtually.
Can a prospective new resident and their family visit the facility?
Commencing the week of July 20 some visitors are being permitted. Some access to our facility is available but is limited, all visitors must undergo screening and complete a questionnaire. To limit exposure most of the tour will be conducted virtually, Skype / Zoom communications are currently our safest “meeting” options. Please call us with any further questions regarding scheduling a virtual visit / meeting with our team.