Infection Control: An Everyday Standard

Much like previous health scares such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or the H1N1 flu virus, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has once again heightened public awareness and fear. The uncertainty and unpredictability of how or if it will spread creates much of the anxiety.

Here at Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village to help combat it, we’ve taken a very cautious and proactive approach, especially since older adults are at a higher risk for complications. We have been following recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and PA Department of Health (PADOH) concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. We are also working closely with our medical director and local physicians to prepare for any potential cases and prevent the virus from spreading.

We’ve strongly encouraged that team members take the following steps to stay healthy and help prevent the spread of the virus, especially if a team member or a family member has traveled abroad recently:

  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick— particularly with a fever and respiratory symptoms
  • Call your primary care physician before visiting a clinic or going out in public
  • Reconsider travel plans both domestic and abroad over the next 6 weeks
  • Remember to cough or sneeze into your elbow and quickly dispose of your tissues
  • And most importantly, practice proper and frequent handwashing

We are also taking additional steps by: limiting entry into buildings, providing masks and hand-sanitizing stations throughout campus, and modifying food handling procedures. But most important we are maintaining clear and constant communication on COVID-19 and our safety protocols to anyone and everyone connected to Messiah Lifeways.

Standard and Universal Precautions

When an outbreak such as COVID-19 gains so much attention, the average citizen takes notice, and for many, they begin to take the necessary precautions. But hospitals, nursing care facilities, and other healthcare providers live by many of these standards all the time. Now in a case like this, each will take extra precautions, just as we have.

In particular, nursing care is one of the most highly regulated industries in the country. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Health oversees, inspects, and licenses nursing homes. This helps to ensure residents feel “at home,” are receiving the quality of care and quality of life they deserve, and that each home meets the minimum regulatory standards. An important part of those standards is infection control.

Much of what the CDC is recommending to citizens about preventing the spread of the virus is standard protocol at places like Messiah Village. Masks, hand sanitizer, and even gowns, along with quarantines or limited access to infected areas are enforced anytime they are needed.

Continual education on infection control, handwashing, vaccinations and communication is standard protocol year round. Our Assistant Director of Nursing, Jessica Toner, has been trained through the CDC as a Nursing Home Infection Preventionist.  She leads our efforts to not only keep 184 nursing residents healthy, but the rest of 600+ residents, hundreds of team members and volunteers as well. Her best advice is to “live responsibly” and help us keep our community healthy and safe by following these basic steps:

  • Wash your hands and practice good personal health and respiratory hygiene
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well and avoid close contact with others

Now more than ever, we all play an active role in the infection control to help keep Messiah Village safe and healthy.

The Coronavirus is certainly not the first nor the last health crisis we’ll face, and efforts are not 100% fail proof. However, we feel that with industry standards and regulations coupled with our vigilance, we will weather the storm.

For more information and safety tips, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Or https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/EPRO/Current-Emergencies/Current-Emergencies-page

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.

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