Health and well-being are at the heart of everything we do at Cathedral Square. We are complying diligently with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Vermont Department of Health, and state and local government officials in an effort to mitigate and contain the coronavirus. We also are involved in numerous groups and task forces monitoring the coronavirus at the state and local levels and developing our community’s response and resources.
In anticipation of the arrival of the coronavirus in Vermont, we started actively preparing our continuity and contingency plans in February. We are prepared to keep our operations running over the long haul. We have an incredible team devoted to our residents’ wellness and safety! Here are some of the steps we have taken at our 25 housing communities:
- We have distributed information about the coronavirus and self-protection measures to residents and staff, installed additional hand sanitizers throughout our buildings, and provided on-site education from SASH wellness nurses.
- Starting March 26, in compliance with Governor Scott’s “Stay at Home” and related orders, we limited visitors only to those who were providing essential services. These services included food and grocery deliveries (including home‐delivered meals), meal‐preparation services, personal care and support for activities of daily living, medication management, deliveries of essential supplies for health and sanitation, nursing services, and medically required therapy treatments, and clinical/behavioral supports essential for personal safety.
- In late June, again in compliance with state guidelines, we opened our communities to visitors but put in place strict safety measures, including requirements for face masks and mandatory questionnaires and sign-in logs for visitors.
- We continue to advised residents to stay at home as much as possible, and if they start feeling ill, to self-quarantine. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and returns to their home to recover must self-isolate. (Learn the difference.) The on-site SASH coordinator will provide support and connect with the resident’s physician and family as needed.
- Also in June, we started allowing visitors at our two assisted-living communities (Cathedral Square Assisted Living in Burlington and Memory Care at Allen Brook in Williston). All visits are scheduled in advance and take place outside. Prior to that time, no visitors had been allowed except for those visiting residents receiving end-of-life care, and we kept family members and friends regularly updated by phone, weekly memos, and Zoom/Skype meetings with residents. and other technologies. (You can read our weekly memos to families and friends of our assisted-living residents to learn more about our earlier procedures: March 10 memo | March 18 memo | March 26 memo | April 2 memo | April 9 memo | April 16 memo | April 24 memo | May 1 memo | May 8 memo)
- We continue to restrict common areas and community spaces to discourage indoor gatherings, but we have instituted procedures so that residents can use exercise rooms and computers in public spaces. We continue to require residents to wear face masks when in public spaces and to maintain a 6-foot distance (minimum) from others in compliance with social-distancing guidelines.
- In early July, we began to slowly restart group programming. The number of participants is limited, and all activities take place outdoors.
- Our Maintenance and Custodial teams continue working together to repeatedly clean and sanitize common spaces and surfaces. We are following CDC cleaning and sanitation guidelines.
- Our on-call residents are helping to clean and sanitize common spaces and checking on their neighbors to make sure they are okay.
- Most staff remain working remotely; however, starting May 4 we gradually began to return to the workplace. All staff have taken the Vermont Occupational Safety & Health Administration training, and they take their temperature before arriving at the office (and stay home if it is 100 F or higher), then record it daily on a sign-in/questionnaire sheet at the entry.
- On-site staff are are wearing face masks and keeping a distance of 6 feet from others. SASH staff continue to phone residents as the first option but are in the office and available to meet with residents.
- We are educating residents (and ourselves!) about the federal emergency relief package (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act, or CARES) and how to obtain or apply for assistance. (Here is a good summary of the CARES Act compiled by the office of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.)
- We have asked any resident who tests positive for the virus, or who comes into contact with someone who has tested positive, to first make sure that they or their doctor informs the Vermont Department of Health, then to notify their SASH coordinator so that we may properly disinfect any impacted area(s) and provide support.
This Too Shall Pass
The coronavirus situation is constantly evolving. We are all learning as we go and adjusting our behaviors as new information becomes available. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience during this trying time. Yes, it’s a cliche, but it’s true: We are all in this together!
We are tremendously grateful for the support we have received from friends and neighbors during this unprecedented time. Family members and strangers are reaching out to offer help. A person from an apartment building adjacent to one of our buildings is organizing her neighbors to shop or run errands for our residents. We have received soap from Twincraft Skincare and the Body Shop to distribute to residents, hand sanitizer from Calendonia Spirits, goggles from Giro Sport Design, and numerous other in-kind donations. At all levels, our amazing staff is picking up extra shifts and taking on added responsibilities, not knowing whether they eventually will be remunerated for their additional work. As motivational speaker Father Gregory Boyle says, “There is no us and them, only us.” THANK YOU ONE AND ALL.
Resources for Residents, Staff & Family Members
- Guide to Common Online & Mobile Communication Apps
- How to Make a Simple Cloth Face Covering
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Vermont Department of Health
- Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging & Independent Living