Berman Commons has taken further steps to ward off COVID-19 after three assisted-living residents tested positive for the coronavirus.
The three were the first residents of the assisted-living wing at Berman Commons to test positive. All three were asymptomatic, meaning that they showed no symptoms of the virus.
Those were the only positive test results out of 43 people — assisted-living residents, caregivers, and staff — tested in the days after an employee tested positive on April 21. That employee, who works on an assisted-living floor, also was asymptomatic.
In an April 24 email to residents and families, Berman Commons executive director Cheryl Chambers said, “We are increasing our oversight for third party essential care workers. Our team members have observed these individuals interacting with their patients but not practicing proper PPE use (not changing gloves, using proper hand hygiene, etc.) We will continue to remind them of proper PPE usage, and will provide our own PPE supply as needed.”
Chambers said in an April 27 email that the private caregivers reported back with negative tests.
Berman Commons, operated by Jewish HomeLife Inc., has a 32-unit memory care unit and 58 assisted-living apartments, as well as 110 employees.
The latest COVID-19 positive tests finding asymptomatic individual show how difficult it can be to keep the potentially deadly virus away from residents and staff.
In her April 24 email, Chambers said, “All team members will use N95 masks at all times when caring for all residents. This is above and beyond current CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines.”
Chambers also asked family members to “not attempt outdoor or through-the-window visits” and said that Berman Commons staff will assist residents needing help to make video calls through their phone or computer. Families have been barred for several weeks from visiting Berman Commons and other facilities operated by Jewish HomeLife.
Berman Commons already had increased protective measures in the weeks before March 26, when an employee who worked in the memory care unit on weekends — and had not been in the building the previous 11 days — reported that she had tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, five residents of the memory unit had been tested after developing elevated temperatures, a symptom of COVID-19. Four of those tests came back positive. Only one of those four continued to test positive a month later.
On March 28, six employees whose work put them in contact with the memory care unit tested positive. All six since were reported to have recovered.
Chambers’ appointment as executive director at Berman Commons was announced April 22 following Rhett Scircle’s resignation as executive director. A JHL spokeswoman said that Scircle’s resignation was “absolutely not” related to the COVID-19 incidents in March.
Chambers, who already was JHL’s director of assisted-living services, also will continue as executive director of The Cohen Home, another assisted-living facility.
Chambers “has been front and center in all Berman Commons operations for the past four months, particularly during our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in this community,” Jeff Gopen, chief operating officer of Jewish HomeLife, said in a statement.