Chelsea Senior Living cites strict safety protocols for reduction of COVID infections among residents, staff


Chelsea Senior Living has conducted more than 23,000 COVID-19 tests of residents and staff since June 1, nearly eliminating infections in its 21 assisted living residences.

As the nation reels under the rise in infections and hospitalizations this fall, Chelsea has maintained a steady level of zero community spread among residents and employees, according to information provided by Chelsea Senior Living on Nov. 17.

A handful are believed to have acquired the virus outside the buildings. The employees quarantine at home as required by CDC guidelines, then return to work after testing negative, according to the statement.

The very few residents who have tested positive were isolated in their apartments until they, too, tested negative, according to the statement. Nursing staffs continue to monitor all residents’ vital signs once a shift.

COVID-19 testing is available on-site.

“We’ve had no COVID-related hospitalizations and no community spread since June 1,” Pat Banta, RN/BSN/MA, Chelsea Regional Health Services director, said in the statement. “Our employees are now well-versed in the use of PPE and social distancing. Our visitation policies require family members to schedule visits in advance, complete a pre-visit questionnaire, wear masks and stay 6 feet from their loved ones. These measures have helped keep our buildings virtually infection-free.”

In keeping with the latest recommendations by state and federal health experts, Chelsea is urging families not to remove their loved ones from their assisted living residences to come home for Thanksgiving. Holiday gatherings, even in private homes, are seen as a primary source of infection, according to the statement.

“Since the initial peak of the pandemic last spring, the entire senior living industry has learned much about prevention and control,” Roger Bernier, president and chief operating officer of Chelsea Senior Living, said in the statement. “As a result, we’ve instituted strict safety protocols at all of our communities, and that extends to every aspect of day to day life including meals, recreation and family visits. Our protocols are published on our website and anyone with questions or concerns can always call us.”

While federal funding partially paid for the thousands of tests administered by Chelsea, it only accounts for a small portion of the cost, according to the statement.

“It’s not enough,” Bernier said in the statement. “The federal and state governments have been behind the curve on COVID from the start. We were on our own in obtaining PPE and testing. To a large extent, we are still on our own.”

Chelsea plans to continue its safety protocols indefinitely as preparations continue to manufacture and distribute vaccines, according to the statement. Experts believe at-risk seniors and their front-line caregivers will be among the first to obtain a vaccine.

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