May 27, 2020
A message to our Community,

Last week, Governor Justice contacted the West Virginia Healthcare Facility Licensing Agency, assigning them the task of beginning to develop a future plan to ease visitation restrictions for WV Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities.

Today, I was part of the first in a series of statewide conference calls to introduce this subject to all stakeholders.  On the conference call were representatives of our licensing agency, the WV Bureau of Public Health, senior advocates, and eldercare facility administrators throughout West Virginia.

The Licensing Agency stated at the onset that Governor Justice has absolutely no date in mind to begin to ease restrictions, which would allow the public to reenter eldercare facilities in West Virginia to visit their loved ones.  His only request of the group was to begin to develop a plan to ease restrictions once he decided that it was acceptable to determine a date to start the process.  The decisions to adopt a plan and implement a plan to ease restrictions are not up to each facility.  These decisions remain solely with the Governor.

We understand that this has been a difficult time for our residents, their family members and our staff.  Separation from loved ones in terrible – but restricting visitation so far has enabled us to protect our residents against the coronavirus.  The health and safety of residents and staff are our top priorities.

I will continue to update you, as I know more information. Thank you for your prayers and your patience.

Respectfully,

Donald R. Kirsch
Administrator
 

Good Shepherd & Welty Home Curtail Visitation to Better Protect Residents

Good Shepherd & Welty Home Curtail Visitation to Better Protect Residents

 

Good Shepherd Nursing Home and the Welty Home are restricting visits to better protect their residents from COVID-19, the corona virus. This is effective Friday, March 13th.

Administrator Donald R. Kirsch announced this policy on the strength of directives from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the American Health Care Association (ACHA). Good Shepherd and Welty Home will no longer admit any outside visitors, except in rare circumstances such as end-of-life situations or when a visitor is medically necessary for a resident.

“This is a heartbreaking decision, but Good Shepherd and Welty Home are caring for 243 residents with an average age of 88,” Mr. Kirsch said. “The health and safety of our residents is our top priority.”

Corona virus mortality rates for senior citizens are very high, ACHA President Mark Parkinson said. He noted that the death rate may well exceed the 15 percent reported in China for people 80 and older.

Good Shepherd and Welty Home staff shared the new policy with their residents and reached out to each resident’s family. “We have informed each resident’s medical power of attorney of our decision via personal phone call, and requested that they inform the remainder of the resident’s family members of this decision,” Mr. Kirsch said.

Families will be offered the opportunity to visit with their loved ones virtually, using video chat programs like FaceTime and Skype. “We have the necessary equipment in house for residents who do not have their own cell phones, tablets or laptops and wish to stay in touch with family,” he said. “We will do our best to keep residents connected with their loved ones.”  The best time to reach residents via video chat is between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., when there are more nursing supervisors available to facilitate the calls.

As always, families may call the supervising Registered Nurses to receive medical updates. In addition, consistent with current practice, Good Shepherd and Welty Home will contact a resident’s medical power of attorney if there is a change in the resident’s health.

Mr. Kirsch said Good Shepherd and Welty will continue ongoing infection control prevention education for and with staff. Additionally, medical staff will screen all employees as they enter the building daily to monitor their temperature and overall wellness.

The visitation restriction also applies to all volunteers and contractors.  Medical vendors who need to enter the facilities will be assisted with the donning of protective equipment.

“Although nothing is foolproof, we want to do everything we can to mitigate the onset of this virus,” Mr. Kirsch said.

Visitation will be reinstated once this threat has passed.