A residential home for seniors in Haines says it has gone into high alert to protect its residents from the widening COVID outbreak in the community. Reported COVID cases peaked last week at 62, and as of Thursday night there were 45 reported active cases. The Haines Assisted Living facility’s governing board says there are currently no active cases among residents or staff in the facility. But employees are taking safety precautions including limiting visitors. KHNS’ Corinne Smith reports.
Haines Assisted Living is an independent assisted living facility that provides meals, and facilitates medical care for as many as 10 seniors. Throughout the pandemic, the nonprofit says it’s taken extra precautions like requiring masks, temperature checks and deep cleaning.
Board managing director Jim Studley says they trigger high alert COVID precautions when there are more than 10 active cases in the Haines community, which has happened before, and was activated again August 9.
“We have a very tiered system of operation so as the and this is approved by the state and its state recommended as well. So it follows state policy,” Studley said. “But what changes is that the residents are, you know, limited significantly by those individuals that might want to come visit them. And then that just ratchets up as it goes.”
On high alert now, visitors are restricted. Only primary support people, like a spouse, son or daughter, or whoever has power of attorney are allowed to visit. They must make an appointment in advance, and are screened on arrival, required to wear a mask and social distance.
Studley wouldn’t say how many people are now living there. But it’s licensed by the state to have 10 beds.
This week, five residents who died at Ketchikan’s Pioneer Home were COVID-19 positive. That followed an outbreak among residents and staff. A separate COVID-19 outbreak at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center’s long-term care unit has infected at least 12 residents and seven caregivers.
Haines Assisted Living board currently does not require its staff to be vaccinated. Studley says if state rules change they would have to comply.
He said each shift staff are required to have their temperature checked, change into new uniforms, wear masks, and they are continuing extra cleaning. He added his employees have been instructed not to show up if they have any symptoms.
“The residents that we have are and that we have had in the past have never had COVID virus in the building. And they’re very safe. And I’m sure they’re sometimes not very happy about being isolated. But we’re doing our best to make a loving, caring environment,” Studley said.
The federal government recently imposed a mandate requiring nursing home employees that receive Medicare and Medicaid to be vaccinated. But Studley says the Haines facility isn’t a licensed nursing home so it wouldn’t apply.
The St. Lucy’s Senior Living Center is on the Haines Assisted Living campus where seniors control access to their apartments.