At Highland House, the safety and health of our residents, patients, and staff is our top priority. We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and are following guidance from the CDC, other local, state and federal health organizations to do our part to help lessen the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

To provide you with timely and relevant information, we are adding this web-based communications platform. This allows us to provide daily updates so that you have access to the most up-to-date key information on our efforts to protect our residents, patients and staff.

Admission Criteria – Even prior to COVID-19, we routinely prepare to minimize the transmission of various infections through policies, procedures, training and use of Personal Protective Equipment. Although routine admissions continue within our facility, rest assured we are following CMS and CDC guidelines and protocols regarding new admissions to provide care for our newly admitted residents while ensuring the safety of our existing residents and staff. In addition to our standard protocols, we have enhanced our admissions criteria during this time to include more in-depth screenings and have designated an area/environment within the facility for our new residents to be isolated for 14 days. We are committed to provide additional monitoring of new admissions and to provide additional caution and safety for all residents and staff.

Our web-based update is below.

As of February 28, 2021,

  • We are grateful to announce, the majority of our residents and many of our staff members received their initial Moderna vaccine. Walgreens has scheduled the second clinic for February 5th to provide either the booster dose or the first dose for those who were unable to participate during the first clinic.
  • 3 residents are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus). As a matter of precaution, we continue weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing of all non-coronavirus (COVID-19) residents as well as daily screening and monitoring including temperature checks. Separate staff are working exclusively outside the isolation area to reduce the risk of contact with coronavirus (COVID-19) positive residents.
  • There are currently 15 residents in our isolation area who have tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus). To provide additional precautions and protection for all our residents, an isolation unit for COVID-19 positive residents has been available since early 2020 in the event there is a need. Positive resident(s) remain in the isolation unit until deemed recovered per medical guidelines, CDC guidelines and health department guidelines. Screenings and monitoring of all residents continue to be performed daily. Separate staff are available to work exclusively in the isolation unit to reduce the risk of contact with non-isolation residents.
  • Previously reported residents have been deemed recovered by medical guidelines, CDC guidelines and the health department as recovered and have returned to their previous room and/or hall.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) per CDC and state guidelines continue to be utilized by all employees for the various areas within the facility. We continue to follow local health department direction, state and CDC guidelines. As part of federal infection control guidelines, we have been inspected by the state on 5 separate occasions to ensure appropriate infection control policies and practices. We are pleased we were deemed deficiency free in 4 of 5 infection control focused surveys. One inspection concluded with a procedural change regarding entry screening if multiple individuals arrive at the entry door at the same time.
  • There are currently 8 staff members out of work as a result of testing positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus). Twice weekly surveillance testing is ongoing. Additionally we are performing staff screenings at the beginning of each shift including temperature checks.
  • Previously reported employees have been deemed recovered by the health department and released to return to work.
  • There is currently 1 outside Healthcare provider in self-quarantine as a result of testing positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus).
  • No outside Healthcare provider coming in to the facility to perform essential care functions are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Twice weekly surveillance testing is ongoing.  Additionally we are continuing to screen outside Healthcare providers before allowing entry into the facility including temperature checks.
  • The previously reported outside Healthcare providers have been deemed by the health department as recovered and released to return to work.
  • Strict visitation protocols remain in effect.
  • No outside personal items including laundry. We are providing in-house laundry services for all patients and residents.
  • Our supply levels remain sufficient to serve our residents at this point in time.

We know that it is difficult to be away from your loved one for an extended period of time. We encourage you to write letters, text, call, email, skype, facetime, email photos or use other electronic means to continue to communicate to your loved one. These small gestures have a tremendous impact on our residents and patients!

Questions have come up regarding mass testing for the coronavirus.

We want you to know that we share your desire to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible during this time. We are currently conducting weekly surveillance testing of residents and staff. To-date we have tested roughly 950 individuals. Several have been tested more than once. We participated earlier this month in a statewide baseline testing initiative for all North Carolina skilled nursing facilities. All employees and residents were tested by CVS/Omnicare as part of this statewide initiative.

Greater access to testing and receiving timely results has been – and remains – a top priority for our facility and other skilled nursing facilities across the state. Although testing ability is more readily available, the time it takes to receive test results remains a concern for us as well as other skilled nursing facilities.

Rest assured that protecting our state’s skilled nursing facility residents is a priority for Gov. Cooper and other North Carolina health care officials. The federal and state government is assisting facilities with making testing more readily available.

As you know, we have been aggressively limiting access to our facility, screening all staff, and carefully monitoring residents since early March. In addition, we continue to carefully follow the guidance of local, state and federal health officials with regard to the preventative and precautionary measures we are taking to protect our residents and staff. We will continue to monitor recommendations for surveillance and exposure testing.

Thank you for your thoughts, patience and support as we navigate through these unprecedented times.

FOOD & SNACK QUESTIONS

We continue to have questions regarding… can I and what types of snacks, food or drinks can I bring for my family member or loved one during the coronavirus visitation restrictions.

We realize it is helpful to be able to drop off something for your loved one so everyone can feel connected. Or they’re calling because they miss a favorite dish, sandwich, snack or drink.

Therefore we have prepared this Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) sheet to assist you.

• Especially during this time of restrictions, we are attempting to stock a variety of food, snacks, and drinks in an effort to provide for your loved ones comfort and taste.
• Although there is no specific evidence to support whether the coronavirus can or cannot be transmitted via food or food packaging, out of an abundance of caution for our resident population and the workers that provide their care, we are continuing to restrict food, snack and drink delivery from the outside to only commercially packaged containers (cartons, boxes, bags, cans, bottles, etc.) that can be easily sanitized with hospital-grade sanitizing agents.
• Although it is tempting to bring fresh fruits now that they are starting to come into availability or homemade comfort items, it is difficult and time consuming to wash and sanitize prior to providing them to your loved one. Please wait and provide those items when the pandemic eases and we are able to remove visitation restrictions.
• The same applies to drive through meals and drinks, it is difficult and time consuming to wash and sanitize prior to providing them to your loved one. Please wait and provide those items when the pandemic eases and we are able to remove visitation restrictions.
• Again we cannot stress enough to consider, before bringing, the packaging. Unfortunately several items that are being left are not safely concealed, thus, cannot be properly sanitized or distributed.
• A table and/or tote(s) are available by our entryway to leave items you want to provide for your loved one or friend. Items will be collected, sanitized and delivered at least morning, afternoon and evening.
• Label who for, whom from, date and room number prior to bringing. Or fill-out stick on labels will be available on the table to complete and place on item(s).

Residents Still Having Fun during Coronavirus Precautions and Restrictions
The absence of visitors and the continuing need to social distance as much as possible within our facility has temporarily changed how we socialize, engage and entertain our residents. However, rest assured our activity and other staff members have been coming up with creative ways our residents can still have fun while staying safe.

In general, all our staff members are engaging with residents at every interaction, asking questions about their day, how they are feeling, and what they have been doing. Regular attempts are being made to ensure residents are staying in touch with family and friends by helping them set up various forms of video chat, phone calls, or writing cards and letters.

Of course, residents are staying in their rooms a lot more, and those who are able have been doing individual activities like reading, word searches, coloring and making crafts. The long running Gunsmoke which originally aired in the mid-50s through the mid-70s with Matt Dillion, Ms. Kitty and Fetus have become a popular TV show again. Hallway bingo is becoming popular, in which the activity staff goes hall by hall to call out bingo while residents check their bingo cards in their doorways. Residents are being encouraged, condition permitting, to stand, stretch and move to increase circulation. Technology, computers, tablets, e-readers, etc. are being utilized to explore virtual activities such as online museums, online classes, online games, online religious events, product browsing, movies, concerts and past sports events.

Residents are continuing to be asked what Activities they would like to do. If it is something usually done in groups, inventive ways are being explored to modify the activity, so it will work within guidelines from the CDC and various other health officials.

In another attempt to help you stay in touch and engaged, we are adding to this page an Activity Calendar update. Although it is not all inclusive of all the wonderful things going on each day, it will give you some idea of what’s going on while you can’t visit. Updates will be posted weekly on Monday around 11am.

Weekly Activity Calendar

For the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), we encourage you to visit the following websites.

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NC 2-1-1 is now available 24/7 as a resource for assistance related to COVID-19.
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