We feel it’s important to address and respond to the article in the October 14th issue of the Roanoke Times addressing the increase in COVID cases.
Yes, as community prevalence rates rise, Friendship has faced COVID outbreaks at Friendship Health & Rehab Center and Friendship Health & Rehab Center - South. As a point of reference, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) defines an “outbreak” as one positive employee or one facility on-set case. The numbers are ever changing as we are doing mass testing events twice per week at these locations. Per CMS and Department of Social Services regulations, we’ve been communicating facility specific information directly with residents, their family members, guardians, and responsible parties steadily for the last several months. These communications include testing dates and results, including numbers of active and recovered cases.
We’ve been posting general updates on our website of the precautions and measures we have and continue to take to protect the health and safety of all who live and reside here. We take our residents’ right to privacy, as well as HIPAA, very seriously. Our goal is to inform and hopefully provide peace of mind regarding Friendship’s general efforts along the way. Again, more specific information is provided directly to stakeholders for each particular location. It is imperative to remember that “Friendship North” encompasses multiple facilities with varying levels of care. Thus, reporting on an “outbreak” but not defining what that means or delineating where, specifically, the outbreak has occurred seems lazy and somewhat dangerous in these already challenging times.
We want to thank our team members, who continue to come to work, facing the adversity that they do, putting others before themselves. You are courageous, brave and noble and we thank you for being the heart and soul of our organization.
And we thank our residents, family members and friends who continue to stand by us, send encouraging letters and messages, reminding us of why we choose to fight this battle of stress and responsibility every day.
We encourage all to continue doing what you can to curtail the spread of this disease. Friendship is not the first, nor will we be the last facility to face an outbreak and research has continually shown that 5-Star Ratings, profit status, chain vs. stand-alone, and even prior infection control deficiencies show no correlation with whether the facility had cases of COVID-19. Instead, the only correlating factor was community prevalence rate. https://www.providermagazine.com/Breaking-News/Pages/Facility-Location-Determines-COVID-Outbreaks,-Researchers-Say.aspx We all play a part in keeping our residents in long-term care facilities safe.
We will continue providing updates directly to residents and families of our various levels of care, and we thank you for your time, attention, understanding, compassion and support.