Since the start of the pandemic, the Center has been thoroughly engaged in addressing the safety of our staff, patients and visitors in the face of the evolving Public Health Crisis.  As an Essential Health Service, the Center has remained fully operational but not without the challenges of re/educating staff, managing the reduced availability of essential medical supplies; and, modifying our in-patient accessibility as we balance safety concerns with end-of-life needs.  Below is a summary, in no particular order, of many of the actions the Center has taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  We continue to evaluate our policies to maintain the healthiest and safest of environments for patients, families and staff; this list will be updated accordingly whenever policies change.​  If you have any questions, please email [email protected]


  • Admissions to both facilities have been reorganized in response to the virus and the threat it presents to facilities like ours.  Specifically, all new patients are presumed to be positive for the virus. Wing 1 in Peggy’s House was segregated, in terms of staff and function, so that every new patient admitted for residential care is confined to that wing for 14 days.  After that, the patient may be moved to another wing or to our Elizabeth facility.  Additionally, to conserve shrinking professional staff resources, the first floor of our Elizabeth facility has been closed, temporarily eliminating 8 beds. This has allowed management to deploy 1st floor coverage to areas needing additional staffing resources.


  • We continue to receive, accept and successfully care for patients with known &/or suspected CV19 infection, both at home and within our Scotch Plains residence.


  • We have adopted a new uniform service.  After evaluating the inventory of staff needs for ‘scrubs,’ we have secured new uniforms for staff.  This will assist with infection control and also save our front line staff the costs of purchasing and laundering uniforms through the year.


  • We have contracted with a local lab to provide universal CV19 testing for all our facility based personnel and patients.


  • We continue our 100% health-screening of our facility and patient care staffs daily.  This includes temperature checks and questioning for any symptoms of potential contagion.  Our testing results continue to show no new infections.


  • Plexiglas barriers have been installed at the reception areas of both facilities to reduce the risks of transmission during sign-in of staff or any other authorized person.


  • We have assembled pavilions for outdoor visiting at both our Scotch Plains and Elizabeth facilities.


  • We have relaxed our criteria for inside visits with patients (as of April, all in-person visiting was ended in both facilities). We continue to promote the availability of visiting through our liaisons and phone contacts with existing families under service as well as those newly referred.


  • Visitors are screened ahead of every visit for signs of the CV19 infection.  We are also engaging Volunteers to assist with these screening phone calls to lessen the burden on our nursing staff.


  • We have begun implementation of a new, “Contact-less” payroll sign-in system that avoids touching the hand-scanner required by the prior system.  This technology will also enable staff to log in from wherever they are beginning work, be it in our residence or at an assigned field location, to apply for “PTO”, receive important notifications from the Center, and much more.


  • The automated attendant for our phone system has been updated to allow callers to select and reach staff or patients in the Wings of PCH or in Elizabeth more quickly without the step of going through the receptionist or the RN Shift Supervisor each time.


  • We installed remote access locks for our automatic doors at Peggy’s House, to facilitate access for critical deliveries of medications and medical supplies and equipment 24/7.  This supplements the times our receptionists are on duty and obviates the RN in charge from having to leave a Wing in order to admit an authorized person to our vestibule.


  • We have continued to enforce affirmative daily health monitoring of all staff reporting to work in our facilities as well as in the field.


  • We have implemented both Tele-Health (with video) and Tele-Communications visits and contacts with patients in the Field wherever appropriate and with the express consent of the patient and their physician. 


  • We have taken steps to reduce travel and exposure by administrative staff.  Our administration building is closed until further notice. However, we continue to be fully-operational with support staff working remotely through our cloud based network.  Staff are allowed to enter the office with advance notice, in order to drop off or collect physical paperwork, etc. to continue their remote-site work.


  • We have limited the number of people allowed together in offices, meeting rooms etc.


  • We have limited face-to-face meetings to only essential dealings and the fewest possible participants.


  • We have updated our Infection Control policies to incorporate the use of CV19 testing for staff and patients and, clarify the standards for both isolating and clearing them based on current CDC guidance.


  • Our housekeeping and maintenance staffs have implemented heightened cleaning/disinfection procedures for patient and common areas, to reduce the risks of environmental transmission.


  • Our use of supplemental “On-Call” RN’s has been well received with cooperation by staff and has the additional benefit of reducing the need for facility based staff to leave and re-enter our buildings – an added infection control benefit.


  • All Field patient visits will be preceded by a phone call to evaluate if anyone in the home has been exposed to the virus.


  • Social worker and chaplain visits will initially be done primarily via telephone to reduce the risks to patients’ households as well as staff.


  • We have proceeded to secure the needed equipment for universal access to our video-visiting program, which will help patients into the future beyond the Pandemic as well.  We have identified additional patient service enhancements that are made possible by the addition of that technology – e.g.  “E-Menu” support to each suite that will eliminate paper menus, allow remote review and approval by our Registered Dieticians, and enhance the ability of our Food Service to identify food allergies and ensure patients are offered appropriate choices for their given clinical conditions; and, internal digital communication with our clinical (Nursing, Social Work, Chaplain) and other service personnel (such as Maintenance requests).

 

  • Visitors observed with overt symptoms of illness will not be admitted, regardless of their attestation to the contrary; and, those who may develop symptoms while already in our residences will be asked to leave for everyone’s safety.


  • Signage for Infection Prevention and COVID-19 precautions are posted at all our building entrances and throughout the interiors.


  • All visitors are greeted with a request to immediately wash / sanitize their hands.


  • All visitors must read and sign an attestation that they meet criteria to be cleared to enter.


  • Significant improvements in our stockpiles of key Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);


  • All personnel working in our facilities are receiving “N95” level filtration face masks which are being conserved using current guidelines.  Personnel who work or travel between both Center campuses are also provided with masks for use at each campus site, to minimize potential cross-contamination.


  • We have begun to distribute face masks to EVERY field based patient and caregiver, to be worn whenever our personnel enter the home – regardless of the presence of symptoms or whether their infectious status is confirmed.