COVID-19 Update

March 26, 2021
Categories: Public Relations | Community Updates | Wellness

To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #52 | Dated: 3-26-21

Good Afternoon –

We are excited to follow up on our last communication regarding our plan to continue to unwind our policies and procedures tied to our response to the pandemic. This past week the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) adopted the guidance that was previously released by both the CDC and CMS. This updated guidance for Long Term Care Facilities can be found here.

Based on this updated guidance and due to our successful vaccination program, we are now able to adopt the least restrictive policies as articulated by the DPH for those who are fully vaccinated. That said, this is not a complete return to the pre-pandemic world but is a renewal of what helps make Sterling Estates a unique community.

These updated policies and procedures summarized below (and detailed further here), are meant to relax many of our current policies/procedures while still ensuring we do what we can to keep those most at risk safe. These updated policies put much of the responsibility now on you and your loved ones as opposed to squarely on Sterling Estates. With that, please find a summary of these updates below: 

  • Visitation Policies: We are moving from limited visitations to now supported visitations
    • Outdoor visits are still the preferred/safest visitation procedure
    • For those residents and their visitors who are fully vaccinated, visits can begin to take place in a resident’s apartment / cottage as opposed to our designated indoor meeting space. These visits will take place during our normal operating hours from 9am – 5pm, including weekends. We can only support visits during these hours at this time.
    • For those who are still unvaccinated, these visits will occur outdoors or in our designated indoor meeting area.
    • All visitors will continue to be screened prior to their visit; these screens will occur at our front desk in the Landmark building. Proof of full vaccination (e.g., CDC vaccination card) should be provided and all visitors will be required to sign in.
  • Off campus trips:
    • For vaccinated residents, non-essential or non-medical trips should be limited but are now possible. Families and loved ones of residents who would like to take their loved ones off campus should coordinate with the community.
    • For unvaccinated residents, off-site visits should continue to be limited to essential trips.
    • Sterling Estates will again offer off campus activities for our fully vaccinated residents. These will take place in appropriate settings: outside, small crowds and with the ability to maintain social distancing.
  • For our Independent Residents: ALL amenities are open starting Monday, March 29th
    • The salon is open for appointments for all residents (following all DPH guidance)
    • The Wellness Center in the Landmark building is open for our independent residents from: 10:30 – 12:30 and 3:30 – 5pm each day.
    • Along with these gym hours our independent residents are still able to use our therapeutic pool and starting March 29th the locker rooms as well.
      • We will continue to schedule classes for our independent residents in the Hampton and Stratford buildings.

We couldn’t be more excited to have many of you back in our community. That said, if we do experience an outbreak of the virus or the situation changes in Cobb County, we will again have to review our policies and procedures and will likely be forced to return to our more limited posture.

Also, if you have yet to be fully vaccinated, we are planning on hosting an additional vaccine clinic at Sterling Estates of West Cobb on April 9th. If you are interested in this clinic, please complete the survey found here.

We are looking forward to “turning the page” with each of you to this new and more vibrant chapter at Sterling Estates!

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


Update #51 | Dated: 3-12-21

Good Afternoon –

We have been looking forward to writing this letter for quite some time…sure you’re aware that the CDC and the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) have started to update their guidance for those who are fully vaccinated as well as for Long Term Care (LTC) Communities. These policy updates are major milestones, marking the fact that the tide of this pandemic has officially turned, and we are well on our way towards better days. The theme of the updates from both of these organizations is now that there has been such a high degree of vaccine adoption within communities like Sterling Estates and the fact that the vaccine is proving to be so highly effective in keeping people safe, we can begin to ease many of the restrictions that have been in place since the pandemic came onto the scene a year ago.

  • CDC’s updated guidance for fully vaccinated individuals can be found here
  • CMS’ updated guidance on visitation can be found here

 What does this mean for Sterling Estates?

In general, this updated guidance is just catching up with what we have been doing in our communities for months. Due to our track record of helping keep everyone safe, ample supplies of PPE, our progressive policies and procedures, our continued staff trainings, as well as our large number of indoor/outdoor spaces, we have been supporting these types activities way before most other organizations. These activities include essential, outdoor, and indoor visits, small group dining, and small activity / group gatherings to name a few. The fact we have already instituted policies and procedures that allow for these activities continues to highlight how advanced Sterling Estates has been as we have strived to keep our residents and staff safe as well as social.

That said, as we have done throughout the pandemic, we are required to follow the guidance from our local health authorities at both the state and county level. Although the state of Georgia has not updated their policies yet, we are confident that they will do so soon. Meaning, we are still required to follow Governor Kemp’s latest Executive orders issued on February 26th renewing the state of emergency (currently expires 4/6/21) as well as the shelter in place order for LTC residents (currently expires 3/15/21) (orders can be found here and here). Once Governor Kemp’s guidance changes, we will follow up with those changes and how they impact our communities.

In summary, we are still in a place of status quo as we have been ahead in easing the restrictions the CDC and CMS addressed this week. As we are able to continue to relax additional policies, we will communicate those out to you as soon as possible…we hope and expect to be able to do so in the near future!

Sterling Estates Plan for “Expanding Our Ring of Inoculation”:

When we attained direct provider status for the vaccine last summer, we did so to ensure that our residents and staff had access to the vaccine as early as possible. With that, we were the first senior living community in the state to fully vaccinate our residents and staff. Further, we still remain the only senior living community in the state that is a direct provider of the vaccine.

Once that mission was completed, we went to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) with a plan to continue to offer vaccine to those who need it most. We called this plan our “Expanding Ring of Inoculation” where we wanted to make sure that the loved ones and caretakers of our residents had early access to the vaccine as well. We did this with the hope that this early vaccination effort would lead to a return to “normal” sooner for those we serve in our communities.

In seeing the latest guidance from the CDC and CMS we feel confident that this plan is coming to fruition and will allow our residents and their loved ones/care takers to enjoy the eased restrictions (once they become official) that much earlier.

As of today, we have delivered over 2,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine placing us in the top 7% of the over 1,500 providers in the state of Georgia. We know we still have role to play in trying to end this pandemic as quickly as possible, and we look forward to continuing to do so.

“There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind” – C.S. Lewis

 

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #50 | Dated: 2-22-21

Good Afternoon –

We hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones doing well.

After the snow and bad weather over the past few weeks, we noticed that we would enjoy some unseasonably warm weather this Wednesday and Thursday.

With that, we like to offer an opportunity to come to our community for a Safe and Social outdoor visit with your loved one.

If you are interested in scheduling time to visit with your family member, enjoy our wonderful courtyards and the beautiful weather during or first ever “Sip and See”, please follow the link here. Timeslots will be offered from 1pm – 5pm.

We are excited to announce that this will also serve as an official kickoff to our return to our family visitations, whether outside or inside.

We are able to restart these visitations due to the fact that the Cobb County positivity rates have now dropped below 10%. This decrease in positivity rates places us in Tier 2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) reopening guidance which allows for supported indoor visitations. These visits will be offered starting Monday, March 1st and can be scheduled by following the same link as above. As the weather permits, outside visits are still the preferred option and we will know day of if we are able to meet outdoors.

Like before, visits will be scheduled from XXXX. Nearly all visitations will be during these hours unless prearranged in coordination with our management team. If circumstances change, obviously visitation guidelines in specific areas may change quickly as well. Please reach out to the community directly if you have any additional questions or concerns.

As a reminder, a brief summary of our indoor visitation procedures can be found below:

  • We will offer limited visitation timeslots separated by at least 15-minute cleaning buffers
  • There will be a limited number of visitors allowed in the room as dictated by square footage
  • All visitors who intend to have an indoor visit are recommended to obtain a regular COVID test
  • We also recommend that any regular visitors have been fully vaccinated (full vaccination means you received your 2nd dose of the Moderna/Pfizer vaccine at least 2 weeks ago but no more than 3 months)
  • All visitors will be screened prior to entering the building and will be required to wear a mask at all times. Due to the fact masks must be worn at all times, there will be no eating/drinking during these indoor visits.

We are heartened by the fact that county, state and national levels of the pandemic are improving, and we remain hopeful that we will see this trend continue.

We look forward to seeing you at our community soon.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #49 | Dated: 1-13-21

Good Afternoon –

As we approach the midway point of the month, we wanted to send along a few updates regarding: the current status of the pandemic, our policies and procedures and our efforts regarding the vaccine.

Update on Policies and Procedures:

As many of you know from watching the news and following the current status of the pandemic both locally and nationally, we continue to set daily/weekly records for new cases and hospitalizations. As dictated by the Department of Public Health (DPH) in their administrative order, found here, we continue to follow the DPH’s most conservative pandemic response policies/procedures.

With that in mind, and in concert with the above guidance, we will be extending the suspension of all nonessential visits for our Assisted Living, Memory Care, Stratford and Hampton residents through January 31st.

For Our Assisted Living and Memory Care Residents:

  • We will continue small group activities and small group dining (as many of these activities can be done while wearing masks and our operating procedures during those activities have proven to be effective thus far).

For our Hampton, Stratford and Cottage Residents:

  • Small group dining in the Grille and Club will continue to be suspended through January 31st. We will continue to offer small group activities to only include activities that are 10 people or less and allow for universal mask wearing.
  • We know you’d like to resume communal dining. That said, we are working with the DPH to develop policies and procedures tied to communities who have received their 2nd dose of the COVID vaccine. As one of the first communities reaching this milestone, we are at the leading edge of this effort…as we make progress in defining these new policies and procedures, we will update you.

Latest Guidance from the State:

  • Governor Kemp has again extended the Executive Orders which were in place earlier:
    • Executive Order: 12.30.20.01
      • This extends the state of emergency in Georgia through February 7th, 2021.
    • Executive Order: 12.30.20.02
      • This order extends the shelter in place order for residents of Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities (our communities) through January 15th.
      • Sheltering in place means our residents should only prioritize essential/medical trips per the governor’s orders.
    • We fully expect both of these orders to be extended in the coming days/weeks.

Moderna, 2nd Dose Booster Clinics:

We are happy to report that we received our 2nd dose, booster supply of the Moderna vaccine at each of our communities earlier this week. We have again partnered with Transitional Care Physicians of America (TCPA) and Guardian Pharmacy to help administer these booster vaccinations.

  • For those of you who received your 1st dose of the vaccine on December 24th or December 28th your booster clinic is scheduled for Monday, January 25th beginning at 8:30am.
  • For those of you who received your 1st dose of the vaccine on December 30th through our partnership with Due West Pharmacy your 2nd dose clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, January 27th beginning at 8:30am.
  • For those of you who received your 1st dose of the vaccine on January 7th or January 13th we have tentatively set the date for your booster clinic on February 10th. We will confirm this date as we get closer to the end of the month.

For additional context on the dosing schedule for the Moderna vaccine (at least 28 days after the first dose) you can visit the CDC website here.

Testing Update:

We are also pleased to announce that we have recently received a shipment of rapid, antigen COVID tests through our partnership with McKesson. These tests offer our residents and/or staff the opportunity to receive a test in specific emergency situations where our regular testing channels aren’t readily available. 

If you should have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #48 | Dated: 1-8-21

Good Afternoon –

Thank you for your patience as we worked to get our remaining staff test results.

As of this morning, we received all remaining staff test results with all remaining staff members testing negative.

There are also no residents or any other staff members exhibiting or expressing any COVID related symptoms.

With that:

  • We will resume small group activities to include small group dining in our assisted living building.
  • We will continue to follow all of our current procedures and policies in our memory care building.

The staff members who previously tested positive continue to recover or remain asymptomatic. We expect these staff members to return to work in the coming days in following the CDC’s return to work guidance.

Our immunization clinic yesterday was also a big success with an additional 70 people receiving their first dose of the Moderna vaccine. We are hopeful that we receive additional supply of the vaccine in the coming days/weeks allowing us to continue to offer more immunization clinics.

If you should have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

 

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

 


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #47 | Dated: 1-6-21

Good Afternoon –

We wanted to follow up our communication from last week regarding the previous incidents of staff members testing positive.

We were able to conduct universal resident testing for all residents in our memory care and assisted living buildings this past Saturday and Sunday. A majority of our staff have also completed their testing with the last third of our staff finishing today and tomorrow.

Below is an update on the results of our latest round of testing:

  • Assisted Living:
    • All 82 of our residents who were tested this weekend have returned negative test results
    • As of now only one additional staff member has tested positive bringing our total positive tests to 3 with 94 staff members testing
  • Memory Care:
    • Of our 35 residents tested 34 tested negative while one resident tested positive. This resident remains asymptomatic, a testament to the fact that he/she received the first dose of Moderna on Christmas Eve.
    • 3 additional staff members have tested positive, bringing our total staff cases to 4 at the Grande.
    • 2 additional staff members continue to quarantine at home.

In each case of additional staff members testing positive, we conducted an investigation and outside of our two Grande staff members quarantining at home, no other residents or staff members have met primary contact criteria.

And as of this morning, no residents or any other staff members exhibit or express any COVID related symptoms.

In following the guidance provided to us by the Department of Public Health (DPH) and as we await the last of our staff test results, we will continue our procedures that were communicated earlier:

  • For our assisted living residents: we are suspending all small group dining, small group activities and will continue to suspend all non-essential visitations.
  • For our memory care residents: we will continue to follow all of our current procedures and policies in our memory care building

We know it can be disconcerting to hear about these new positive cases for our staff. With that, we are communicating regularly with the DPH to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our residents and staff safe with the increased incidence of virus virtually everywhere.  Based on the fact that so few of our residents have tested positive, we know that our policies, procedures and use of PPE work. We also know how important it is for all of our residents and staff members to participate in our immunization clinics.

We are pleased and excited to announce that we have received an additional order of the Moderna vaccine. Our team has reached out to any of our residents (or their loved ones as applicable) and any staff members who have yet to receive the first dose of the vaccine to ensure all who desire to participate in our immunization clinics have the opportunity to do so.

We are planning on hosting our immunization clinic for residents, staff and some of our 3rd party healthcare partners tomorrow.

If you should have any questions or concerns regarding our immunization clinics or our current policies or procedures, please do not hesitate to reach out. 

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #46 | Dated: 1-1-21

Good Morning –

Late yesterday we were informed that two care staff members in our assisted living community tested positive for the virus. One tested positive on 12-28 and the other on 12-30. Through contact tracing we have determined that these two incidents are unrelated and most likely came from transmission events outside of our community (in one instance a loved one of a staff member tested positive prompting an immediate test of our staff member).

Up to this point in our contact tracing investigation, no residents or any staff members meet the CDC and Department of Public Health (DPH) definition of primary contact for any of these 2 unrelated incidents.

This morning we were also informed that a staff member at our memory care building tested positive on 12/30. Much like the incidents with our assisted living staff members, this staff member traced their exposure to a Christmas dinner where a loved one later tested positive. To be extra cautious, we have asked one additional staff member who is close friends outside of work with this individual to self-isolate at home and follow the CDC return to work guidance.

And as of this morning, no residents or any other staff members exhibit or express any COVID related symptoms.

Based on these circumstances, we are following our testing protocol which includes universal testing for our assisted living and memory care residents and staff through Transitional Care Physicians of America (TCPA). We will be administering tests starting tomorrow for all residents and staff with the hope of getting results within 48 to 72 hours of testing.

Out of an abundance of caution, for our assisted living residents, we are suspending all small group dining, small group activities and will continue to suspend all non-essential visitations until we receive the results of our universal testing. We have all come too far to cut corners as we get so close to having a majority of our residents and staff complete their full vaccination schedule later in January.

Starting this morning, we are delivering all meals to our assisted living residents’ apartments. Once we receive the results of the universal testing, we will report those findings immediately and revisit our plans for small group activities.

We will continue to follow all of our current procedures and policies in our memory care building.

Not the way we envisioned kicking off the new year but based on our experience, we are confident in our policies and procedures and know that we will be able to get through this latest challenge together.

If you have any immediate questions or concerns about the testing scheduled or this latest incident, please do not hesitate to reach out to:

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #45 | Dated: 12-30-20

Good Afternoon –

We hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones doing well after a very unique Christmas. We wanted to again thank you for participating in our immunization clinic on Christmas Eve. Those who did receive the vaccine were some of the first seniors and long-term care employees in the state to receive the vaccine. It was a resounding success, with no serious adverse reactions reported by any of our residents or staff…just a few sore arms. We are proud that we were able to inoculate all assisted living and memory care residents and staff who opted in for this first round of immunizations. We are also excited to report that our cottage residents and 2nd round of staff received the Moderna vaccine through Due West Pharmacy just this morning, meaning our entire campus has had access to the vaccine before year’s end.

We expect to receive additional vaccine shipments in the coming days/weeks. With these additional doses we will be able to continue to offer the vaccine for any additional and/or new residents and staff members who choose to participate in the program. Again, we strongly encourage all residents, staff and other health care professionals who partner with Sterling to participate in our immunization clinics.

Now we have started our immunization program what does that meant for Sterling Estates:

A large majority of our residents and staff have now received the 1st of 2 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is 95% effective in preventing the coronavirus disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus after the 2nd dose. The 2nd dose must be administered 28 days after the 1st dose, which will be January 21, 2021 for the majority of our residents and staff. We are working with both Transitional Care Physicians of America (TCPA) and Guardian Pharmacy to schedule these 2nd dose clinics and will communicate a plan early in the new year.

Although having most of our residents and staff immunized protects them from becoming seriously ill, it doesn’t stop the transmission of the virus itself (meaning, you can give it to someone else who doesn’t have his/her immunization). As we await more people both in Sterling and in the surrounding area to get their immunization shots, we will continue to follow our policies and procedures that have been in place throughout the pandemic:

  • universal mask wearing
  • 6 feet of separation
  • small group activities
  • regular deep cleanings
  • no nonessential visitors (at this time)
  • regular staff testing
  • contact tracing with known COVID positive individuals, etc.

We are currently working with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to define criteria for what our procedures will look like in future once the rate of immunization increases and a timeline for when those policies/procedures will change. We will update you in the coming weeks as those plans are developed.

If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #44 | Dated: 12-23-20

We are excited to share that our first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived at all 3 of our communities today making Sterling Estates the first senior living community to administer the vaccine in the state.

We have contracted with Transitional Care Partners of America (TCPA) and Guardian Pharmacy to help administer the first vaccinations starting tomorrow.

Through those partnerships we will have nurse practitioners, pharmacists, nurses and a litany of other support staff on hand to support in administering the vaccine safely to our residents and staff.

Our team has started to reach out to our residents, resident loved ones and staff to review consent forms as well as answer any questions regarding the vaccine or our plan for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a large step for our communities, residents, staff and a testament to our strong partnerships that we will be at the leading edge of providing this life saving service to those who need it most.

If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #43 | Dated: 12-18-20

This weekend we were officially notified that our 2 communities in Cobb County (both Sterling Estates of East and West Cobb) and our community in Fayette County (Azalea Estates) have been approved to be Tier 1a (the highest priority) vaccine providers out of the 5 total tiers.

Below is a quick summary of the two paths we have taken to ensure that our residents and staff have the earliest possible access to the vaccine:

  • National Pharmacy Network Long Term Care Partnership:
    1. CVS and Walgreens have partnered with the Federal government to ensure that all LTC communities have access to the vaccine through onsite clinics. We have applied for and been accepted to this program. Almost all LTC communities in the state are participating in this program.
  • Getting Approval to be a Vaccine Provider Ourselves:
    1. We worked with both the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) to be certified as a provider ourselves (just like CVS and Walgreens). We completed a rigorous application process, trainings, many weeks of conference calls, etc. to get added to the short list of Tier 1a providers.

Having both options available to us will allow us to ensure that you are offered the vaccine as early as possible.

What this means moving forward:

  • Our approval as a provider in the highest priority tier will allow our communities to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine directly from the manufacturers in the coming days/weeks.
  • Pfizer has been granted their emergency use authorization with early shipments of the vaccine starting this past week and initial vaccines administered in the past few days. We expect Moderna to be approved later this week and to follow a similar timeline as Pfizer with vaccines being shipped in the coming days.
  • If for some reason CVS is able to obtain access to the vaccine before us and has enough to schedule onsite clinics at our communities, we will vaccinate our residents and staff through their team.

The decision by the DPH to accept Sterling Estates as a provider underscores how important it is for our residents and staff to have early access to the vaccine, as well as acknowledges how prepared our team at Sterling Estates is to be able to provide this service to our residents. We are proud of our onsite teams which have allowed us to be in this position and look forward to the opportunity of offering you this service as quickly and safely as possible. As a reminder there will be limited supplies early on, but that will be improving over the coming weeks.

We know that there are many questions regarding these new vaccines, with that we have included a few resources below that will hopefully answer some of your questions. Our residents are part of the generation that have always led the way in vaccines: smallpox, polio, whooping cough… and with our inclusion as the highest priority group to gain access to this vaccine, they will again be leading the way with COVID. Over the coming days our team will be reaching out directly to residents, resident loved ones and our staff to confirm their desire to receive the vaccine once it is on site.

More information on each vaccine can be found here:

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #42 | Dated: 12-10-20

We wanted to follow up on our latest communication where we detailed our steps for safely operating this Holiday Season.

Update on Policies and Procedures:

The virus continues to increase in both overall cases as well as the percent of tests that are coming back positive across the state. As of December 9th, Cobb County has met the criteria for returning to the most restrictive quarantine procedures as dictated by the Department of Public Health (DPH) in their administrative order found here

With that in mind, and in concert with the guidance that has been provided to us by the DPH, we will be extending the suspension of all nonessential visits for our Assisted Living, Memory Care, Stratford and Hampton residents now through December 31st.

For Our Assisted Living and Memory Care Residents:

We will continue small group activities and small group dining (as many of these activities can be done while wearing masks and our operating procedures during those activities have proven to be effective thus far).

For our Hampton, Stratford and Cottage Residents:

Small group dining in the Grille and Club will also be suspended through December 31st. We will continue to offer small group activities to only include activities that are 10 people or less and allow for universal mask wearing.

Latest Guidance from the State:

  • Governor Kemp has again extended the Executive Orders which were in place earlier:
    • Executive Order: 11.30.20.01
      • This extends the state of emergency in Georgia through January 8th, 2021.
    • Executive Order: 12.08.20.01
      • This order extends the shelter in place order for residents of Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities (our communities) through December 31st.
        • Sheltering in place means our residents should only prioritize essential/medical trips per the governor’s orders.

 Latest on The Vaccine:

Our hope is that we will not have to continue these types of changes to our policies and procedures for much longer, especially in light of the fact that we are now only days/weeks away from the first vaccines reaching Georgia. The FDA is expected to vote on approval for the Pfizer vaccine today. Once that approval is made official, we will obtain more solid timelines for when to expect the vaccine in Georgia. As of now we are expecting shipments to start arriving in the coming week with hopeful onsite vaccinations starting by the end of December. All of this can change, and we will be sure to follow up once we receive more information.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #41 | Dated: 11-30-20

Good Afternoon Residents, Family Members and Staff Members –

As we end the month of November, we wanted to update you a few changes we will be making to our policies and procedures based on the increased incidence of the virus in our local communities.

It has always been our top priority to keep our residents and staff safe from the virus while ensuring we do all we can to allow our residents to continue to be engaged, social and connected to their loved ones. That is why we were one of the first to institute outside visits for families/loved ones by working with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to develop these procedures for Long Term Care facilities. It is why we instituted small group dining in a safe and social way as soon as we learned more about how the virus spread and by working creatively with DPH experts to implement safe procedures. And we continue to make tweaks and changes to our policies and procedures as the situation on the ground seems to change daily.

With that, based on the overall increase of the virus in Cobb County, the Thanksgiving Holiday this past week where many people gathered to celebrate, and the fact that the weather is forcing so many of us indoors; we will be suspending all nonessential visits for our Assisted Living, Memory Care, Stratford and Hampton residents starting today through December 14th.

For Our Assisted Living and Memory Care Residents:

We will continue small group activities and small group dining (as many of these activities can be done while wearing masks and our operating procedures during those activities have proven to be effective thus far).

For our Hampton, Stratford and Cottage Residents:

Small group dining in the Grille and Club continues to be suspended now through December 14th. We implore each of you to only leave the campus for essential services. We have scaled back our activity calendar to only include activities that are 10 people or less and allow for universal mask wearing. We will continue to evaluate our programming over the coming weeks and make appropriate changes to our offerings as the situation on the ground dictates.

As we get into December, we will revisit these changes with the hope that we can restart these visits and activities prior to the Christmas holiday.

As many of you know we we are not far off from the first approval of an effective and safe COVID vaccine and now is the time to redouble our efforts and rededicate ourselves to staying safe and following the guidance from both the DPH and CDC.

Below you will find a quick update on our progress in ensuring that our residents and staff members have early access to a COVID vaccine once it becomes available. We are one of the few senior living communities in the state to be a part of the closed Point of Distribution program through the DPH and CDC. As part of this group, we had our first of what will be weekly planning calls last week. There is still much unknown regarding when and how the vaccine will be made available, but we expect to find out more as the Federal government approaches their December 10th meeting where they will make a decision on the emergency use application from Pfizer. The 2nd vaccine from Moderna applied for their emergency use application this morning which would put their timeline between 1 and 2 weeks behind that of Pfizer’s. As we get more information about the vaccines, their distribution processes and clearer timelines we will let you know.

We know that suspending nonessential visitations is going to be very difficult for both our residents and loved ones. Our hope is that this will be a short-lived change. Please reach out to us directly to talk through coordinating virtual visits through FaceTime calls, Zooms, etc.

If you have any additional questions or concerns please do not hesitate to reach out:

 

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #40 | Dated: 11-19-20

We hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones doing well. As we previewed in our earlier communication, we wanted to follow up on guidance for you and your families during this Holiday season, as well as update you on any changes to our policies and procedures.

Since we last wrote to you, much has happened regarding the pandemic including some encouraging news. Due to the change in weather with more people congregating indoors, as well as the fact that more people are getting together during this season and that “COVID fatigue” has caused many to lower their level of vigilance the pandemic has continued to increase its impact across the country.

That said, there have been incredible breakthroughs with at least 2 vaccines reaching final evaluation status with the hope that they will be approved soon.  Our communities have signed up to receive the vaccination services offered by the CDC in conjunction with CVS and Walgreens and we have also applied to be a point of distribution through the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). You can rest assured knowing that we are doing all that we can to ensure that our residents and staff are first in line for when a vaccine is approved and ready to be distributed. We will continue to keep you updated as we know more.

Assisted Living Holiday Guidance:

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the DPH have issued guidance recommending against residents in long term care facilities leaving their communities to participate in family gatherings this holiday season. They make this recommendation knowing that some individuals will still deem these family gatherings as essential. And we understand that. Most of our residents are choosing to heed the advice to stay at Sterling and not go out for family holiday celebrations. That said, we do have a few residents who will be leaving and visiting family. Those residents will be asked to self-isolate and not participate in small group dining for 14 days once they return to Sterling. However, the goal is for all residents to continue to participate in other small group activities depending on each resident’s circumstances. For those of you who are planning holiday get togethers, please find guidance from the CDC on how to conduct these activities as safely as possible here and here.

Cottage, Stratford and Hampton Residents:

Our activities team surveyed most of you over the past few weeks to determine your plans for Thanksgiving. Based on that survey it looks as if a majority of you will be planning on being with family during the Holiday. Based on that, and out of an abundance of caution, we will be suspending small group dining at both the Grille and Club from November 27th through December 11th. During those weeks, we will deliver one meal per day; Monday – Saturday ~3pm and on Sundays ~11am. We will continue to offer small group activities where masks are able to be worn and the size of the group meets all DPH and CDC guidance. This will include bridge groups, art classes, stamping class, bible studies, men’s and ladies’ group meetings, and more. The activities team will reach out with the updated schedule soon.

As we have mentioned before, traversing our path through the pandemic has been a delicate balance between our efforts to keep the virus out of our communities while maintaining the health and wellness of our residents and staff. The policies and changes outlined above are our latest attempt to do just that. We are hopeful that a safe and effective vaccine will be made available soon. As we start to focus on the expected “end” to this pandemic, we all need to take extra precautions now which are essential to protecting everyone in our community until then.

We wish you a happy holiday season!

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #39 | Dated: 10-16-20

We hope this update finds both you and your loved ones doing well. As promised, we want to update you on our plans to help keep our residents “Safe and Social” during the coming Holiday Season and winter months.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been balancing our efforts to keep the virus out of our communities while maintaining the health and wellness of our residents and staff which of course goes way beyond just sheltering in place. Below you will find an update on our latest plans and procedures as well as guidance from both the Department of Public Health (DPH) and Governor Kemp.

Holiday Plans:

Our teams, partnering across all of our communities, have been working tirelessly to ensure that we are able to continue to make this holiday season special in the midst of our “new normal”. With that, we recognize how important spending time with one another is during this holiday season. That is why we pushed to find creative and proven safe ways to continue our in-person family visits indoors. The details on the equipment we have purchased and the policies tied to indoor visits can be found below.

Along with continued visitations, our calendars are full of opportunities to celebrate the season as a community and in safe, socially engaging ways. Our plans include: local choirs performing outdoor concerts; residents caroling throughout our neighborhood settings; resident-led service projects have already started to support local organizations; we’re organizing traditional family Holiday celebrations based on residents’ traditions; and more to come.

With that, please check out our Facebook page to learn more about our vibrant, safe and social community.

As you start your holiday planning please continue to keep in mind what you and your loved ones can do to minimize your risk and the risk posed to your loved ones and neighbors. As a resource holiday planning guidance from the CDC can be found here. We are also here for you if you should want to talk through any of your holiday planning.

Update to Policies and Procedures:

  • Visitation: We will continue scheduled in person visits for residents and loved ones in specially designed, large annex rooms as the weather cools. These rooms are specially equipped with top of the line air filtrations and surface cleaning technologies. That said, as the weather permits, outside visits are still the preferred option for visits as we have deployed heaters and additional seating to support these visits.
    • We will offer limited visitation timeslots separated by at least 15-minute cleaning buffers
    • There will be a limited number of visitors allowed in the room as dictated by square footage
    • All visitors who intend to have an indoor visit are recommended to obtain a regular COVID test
    • All visitors will be screened prior to entering the building and will be required to wear a mask at all times. Due to the fact masks must be worn at all times, there will be no eating/drinking during these indoor visits.
  • Based on this new guidance, beginning October 26th Sterling Estates of West Cobb will start scheduling indoor visitations from 12:30-5:30 Monday – Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 9:30 a.m. However, weekend times will vary. Nearly all visitation will be during these hours unless prearranged in coordination with our management team. If circumstances change, obviously visitation guidelines in specific areas may change quickly as well. Please reach out to the community directly regarding how to best schedule these visits.
  • Activities: Our large indoor spaces afford us the ability to spread out and continue to safely conduct and participate in small group exercise classes, dining and engaging group activities throughout each of the DPH phases of reopening. More detailed plans tied to the DPH phased reopening schedule can be found here.
  • Preparation for the flu season: Our staff and many residents are getting their flu shots through one of our preferred providers. Getting your flu shot this year is more important than ever! If you aren’t participating in our flu shot program please be sure to go out and get your shot as soon as possible to protect yourself, your family and your community.

Latest Guidance from the State:

  • The DPH issued additional guidance for long-term communities (LTC) that outlines a phased approach for how to responsibly ease and strengthen restrictions for long-term communities. We have been working directly with the DPH and their teams of experts on this guidance for months now and much of what has been now communicated to all communities in the state has already been implemented at Sterling. This administrative order can be found here.
  • Governor Kemp has again extended the Executive Order which details the steps the state is taking to empower a healthy Georgia in response to COVID-19. This order extends the shelter in place order for residents of Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities (our communities) through October 31st. We fully expect that this order will continue to be renewed as long as there is still widespread infection of the virus in our state.
    • Sheltering in place means our residents should only prioritize essential/medical trips per the governor’s orders. 

We are excited for this next phase of responsibly defining our “new normal” and look forward to a wonderful holiday season.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #38 | Dated: 9-17-20

We hope this letter finds you and your loved ones doing well. With Fall upon us and Winter just around the corner, we wanted to update you on our planning and preparation for the change of seasons and all that follows. 

First, we couldn’t be more thankful that over the past 6 months we have been able to limit the impact the pandemic has had on our community through our policies, procedures, programming and use of PPE. We are proud of our staff as they continue to remain vigilant while in the community supporting our residents and while away from work with their own loved ones. Our team members remain committed to regular testing in line with the CDC, state and federal guidance. All of this to ensure we do all we can to keep our residents safe…and social!  We are happy to report that, at this time, we do not have any COVID positive residents or staff members with no one exhibiting or displaying any signs or symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.

With these changes of seasons comes the Flu season and maybe a “second wave” of the coronavirus. As such, we are in the midst of reviewing our current policies and procedures both internally and with our contacts at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). Our goal is to make sure that our communities are prepared to react to any complications that the seasonal flu may present or changes in COVID-19, all while maintaining the engagement activities, family visits and other socialization activities that our residents and their families rely on. This remains a priority for us as we know that these activities, especially family visits, are essential to our residents’ health and wellbeing. As we move towards finalizing our plans, we will share these updates with you.

That said, we continue to have ample supplies of PPE and have been able to setup additional supply chains to supplement our current PPE supplies. Just this month we purchased an additional 10,000 KN-95 masks and 20,000 surgical masks to go along with the supplies that we’ve already deployed.

Update on Executive Order:

Earlier this week, Governor Kemp again extended the Executive Order which details the steps the state is taking to empower a healthy Georgia in response to COVID-19. This order extends the shelter in place order for residents of Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities (our communities) through September 30th. This executive order also introduced additional guidance from the DPH which details steps for how and when LTC facilities can ease policies and guidelines tied to the prevalence of the COVID-19 virus in each of our individual communities and larger counties. We will be including new phases of reopening in our updated policies tied to the change in seasons. 

As we were able to define our “new normal” this past Spring and Summer, we are confident that with your support and the partnerships that we have developed with our local experts, we will again be able to define our “new normal” this Fall and Winter whilst ensuring our residents remain both Safe and Social.

We will be back in touch regarding our updated policies and procedures soon. Thank you again and please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #37 | Dated: 8-13-20

Good Afternoon 

We were recently informed that one of our food service staff members tested positive for the COVID-19 virus earlier this week on August 10th.

We have completed our contact tracing investigation and there are no residents or staff members meeting primary contact criteria as this staff member does not have resident facing job responsibilities and did not work during his/her infectious period.

This staff member will continue to self-isolate for his/her illness period (at least 10 days from symptom onset, with at least one full day with no symptoms).

At this time, no other residents or staff members are expressing or exhibiting any COVID related symptoms and no other residents or staff have tested positive for the virus.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #36 | Dated: 8-05-20

Good Morning 

As we start the week, we wanted to update you on Governor Kemp’s latest Executive Orders which were published the evening of Friday, July 31st:

  1. The first Executive Order (found here) extends the statewide state of emergency through September 10th. This Executive Order also extends the guidance specifically tied to Long Term Care Facilities (no non-essential visitors, screen staff, etc.)
  2. The second Executive Order (found here) extends the shelter in place order through August 15th for various individuals, including residents of senior living communities.

We continue to have our staff members tested through the Department of Public Health (DPH) on a regular basis. At this point in time we have no staff members testing positive for the virus or expressing/exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

As an organization we recently made another large purchase of masks (both KN95 and surgical masks) in order to continue to ensure we have ample supplies on hand as we head into the late Summer and early Fall seasons. Along with this large order, we continue to have sufficient supplies of PPE at each of our communities. This latest order only continues to strengthen that position.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Thank you again,

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #35 | Dated: 8-03-20

Good Afternoon 

As we start the week, we wanted to follow up with you now that we have completed our contact tracing investigation regarding last week’s incident.

  • No new individuals met primary contact guidance based off of last week’s positive test.
  • No new staff members or residents have tested positive. This includes those staff members who did meet primary contact tracing and were tested last week.
  • No new staff members or residents have exhibited or expressed symptoms.

Due to these findings, along with the fact that we have serving staff returning from some well-deserved time off at the end of this week, we will be able to resume independent, small group dining in the Grille and the Club starting Monday, August 10th.

Latest Executive Orders:
Governor Kemp’s latest Executive Orders were published the evening of Friday July 31st:

  1. The first order (found here) extends the statewide state of emergency through September 10th. This Executive Order also extends the guidance specifically tied to Long Term Care Facilities (no non-essential visitors, screen staff, etc.)
  2. The second Executive Order (found here) extends the shelter in place order through August 15th for various individuals, including residents of senior living communities.

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