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.
- As of March 26, in compliance with Governor Scott’s “Stay at Home” and related orders, we are limiting visitors only to those who are providing essential services. These services include 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.
- We have advised all residents to stay at home, 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.
- We are prohibiting visitors in our two assisted-living communities (Cathedral Square Assisted Living in Burlington and Memory Care at Allen Brook in Williston) except for those visiting residents who are receiving end-of-life care. We are keeping family members and friends regularly updated by phone and weekly memos, and we are connecting residents with family members via Zoom, Skype and other technologies. Read our weekly memos to families and friends of our assisted-living residents to learn more: 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 are asking visiting nurses, home-health workers and related professionals to shower and change into clean clothing upon arrival.
- We are asking residents not to gather in common areas and have closed off community spaces to discourage/prevent gatherings. We understand the importance of having access to exercise rooms, resident computers and other services, but we are strongly advising that residents limit their time and maintain a 6-foot distance from others in compliance with social-distancing guidelines.
- We have cancelled all group programming and community meals. In an effort to address loneliness and isolation, we have several initiatives underway to maintain connections with residents — and to connect residents with each other — through phone calls, social media, mail and other means. For example, we have put out the call for handmade cards from schoolchildren for our residents, one of our SASH coordinators is leading “Facebook Live” mindfulness sessions, and a regular volunteer is leading chair yoga sessions via Zoom. Residents know to call the office to hear a recording with a daily update, and SASH coordinators have scheduled weekly conference calls with their residents.
- Our Maintenance team is completing essential work orders only; non-emergency work-order requests are being put on hold. Residents have been advised to continue calling in requests so they can be prioritized and tracked accordingly. Maintenance staff are using their additional time to assist our custodial and site staff in repeatedly cleaning and sanitizing 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 are gradually returning to the workplace. We are requiring all staff to take the Vermont Occupational Safety & Health Administration training and submit their certificate of completion beforehand. In addition, all staff must take their temperature before leaving their home (and stay home if it is 100 F or higher), then log it on a sign-in/questionnaire sheet at the entry every day.
- On-site staff are are wearing face masks and keeping a distance of 6 feet from others. SASH staff are phoning residents as the first option, then determining whether an in-person, one-on-one visit is appropriate. They also are maintaining a 6-foot distance from anyone with whom they meet,
- 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