Four residents of the memory care unit at the Berman Commons assisted-living facility in Dunwoody have tested positive for COVID-19, apparently through contact with a staff worker in the unit, according to Jewish HomeLife, the agency that operates the facility.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are locking down the entire community,” Jewish HomeLife spokeswoman Shari Bayer told the AJT.
All residents in Berman Commons’ 32-unit memory-care wing and in the 58 assisted-living apartments have been directed not to leave their apartments. As a precaution to protect the residents from exposure to COVID-19, residents already were confined to the facility, except for necessary medical appointments and infrequent trips to the grocery. Family members have been barred from visiting.
Within the past week, five residents of the memory care unit developed elevated temperatures. All five were put into isolation in their apartments. All five were tested and four tests returned as positive. Other than the elevated temperatures, none of the five have displayed other symptoms associated with COVID-19 and, per the current medical protocol, have not required hospitalization, Bayer said. They are being cared for by the nurse practitioners at Berman Commons, under the direction of Jewish HomeLife’s medical director Dr. Alex Rikhter.
The employee who apparently passed on the virus, a woman who works in the memory care unit on weekends, called Berman Commons on Thursday to report that, after visiting her physician, she had tested positive. She had not been in the facility since March 14, about 11 days before the last of the five residents developed an elevated temperature.
No other members of the memory care unit staff came into direct contact their co-worker in the past two weeks and have not developed COVID-19 symptoms, Bayer said. The nurses wear gowns, caps and masks when visiting the isolated residents.
When they report for work, Jewish HomeLife employees are asked a series of screening questions and have their temperature taken, Bayer said, adding that the temperatures are tracked to watch for any elevated temperature.
The positive COVID-19 tests at Berman Commons came a day after the death in a hospital of an 89-year-old resident of The Zaban Tower, an independent living facility. The woman, who already was hospitalized, had underlying health conditions and tested positive while in the hospital.
The families of residents of facilities at Jewish HomeLife’s Howell Mill Road campus were informed by email Wednesday. That notice said that “any staff or ZT resident who has had direct contact with this individual has been screened and/or tested as a precaution.”
“This is an emotional time for all of us. We are doing everything in our power to bring the best medical expertise, testing and protective equipment to protect our most vulnerable population, to protect our staff who are on the front lines every day. We are not the first and will not be the last senior care community to face this crisis, and sincerely appreciate the community’s support in our efforts,” Jewish HomeLife president and CEO Harley Tabak told the AJT.
Berman Commons residents and their families were informed of the situation there Thursday night in an email from Tabak and Jeff Gopen, the agency’s chief operating officer.
That notice included: “Although there is no evidence of any exposure in our assisted living floors and none of the assisted living residents are currently on isolation for symptoms, we have made the difficult decision of discontinuing group dining and activities for these residents. We are directing all residents to isolate in their rooms, and will provide room service for all meals,” beginning with breakfast Friday.
Additional measures being taken at Berman Commons include:
- “We will take vital signs every shift for all residents as a way to assure no symptoms, track trends, and to catch any status changes early.”
- “We will no longer allow anyone outside of staff in the community unless it is a true emergency. The ONLY exceptions will be medical professionals and private duty sitters that already have an established relationship with the resident and the community.”
- “All packages will be quarantined outside the front door for 24 hours, then sprayed with an anti-viral solution before being brought into the community.”
- Every two hours, staff working from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. will use anti-viral clearers in all common areas, “focusing on hot spots such as door handles, door frames, elevators, handrails, etc.”
- “We are contracting with a company to perform anti-viral fogging treatments of all memory care apartments. The fogging agent is safe for humans and will only displace residents for about 10-15 minutes. The residents will be supervised by team members during that time.” Bayer said that the anti-viral fogging was completed late Friday morning.
Tabak planned to include a recorded message in a weekly email sent to residents and families.
The email sent Thursday night also said, “We will do our best to provide low risk engagement opportunities such as using our in-house TV channel to broadcast discussions, museum tours and other virtual content,” the Thursday night email said.
Seder plans at Berman Commons remain uncertain. The facility previously had said that it would hold a residents-only seder.