Residents, staff at Signature Health tested for COVID-19

Published 11:21 am Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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Over the past several months, Signature HealthCARE’s 25 Tennessee long-term care facilities have taken a proactive and aggressive approach against the coronavirus and its related illness, COVID-19. That preparedness mandated being ready not for “if,” but “when” a facility faced a confirmed COVID-19 exposure.
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Signature employed a facility-wide testing strategy at select facilities, testing all residents and staff in each facility. This strategy came highly recommended by Signature’s infectious disease physicians as a way to quickly identify the scope of the virus in a facility, knowing that positive persons can be asymptomatic, and then work swiftly to contain any further spread. Signature’s approach was applauded by the CDC and is now being mandated by the governor.
“On May 1, the Tennessee Department of Health notified us that facility-wide testing must be completed in all Tennessee nursing homes and assisted living facilities by the end of May 2020, although we understand this may extend into June. We have already started personally notifying all residents, their responsible parties, and our staff about this new requirement,” a spokesman for the facility said. 
Residents and staff of Signature HealthCARE of Elizabethton Rehab & Wellness Center were tested on Tuesday, June 2.
“With such testing, we expect Signature HealthCARE of Elizabethton’s number of total positive COVID-19 cases, which is currently zero, as well as the rest of Tennessee’s numbers, to increase as we know there are many asymptomatic persons, even in our Tennessee communities at large, who remain untested, and are virus carriers. Signature HealthCARE of Elizabethton is prepared to appropriately care for our residents who test positive by using a variety of methods depending on outcomes. This could include caring for them within a unit within the facility or using other special COVID-19 units in the state, if necessary,” said a spokesman for the local facility.
“We will be in close consultation with the medical director and our infectious disease physicians on staff, who guide us on best practices. If at any time a physician determines a resident needs a higher level of care, they will be treated at one of our partnering hospitals. Our healthcare calling is for our facilities to continue to care for all persons, even those with COVID-19, as our communities need us. Facility-wide testing is one of the best ways to find and help care for them.
“Signature HealthCARE of Elizabethton wants to assure our residents, families, and staff that we continue to take every precaution possible and follow the strict guidelines of the CDC and other controlling government agencies. Most importantly, we would like to say, “THANK YOU” for all of the positive cards, emails, lunches, snacks, gifts and other items that communities have sent to our facility. Please keep them coming! All are noticed and greatly appreciated by residents and our staff,” said Ann Bowdan Wilder, Communications Manager of Signature HealthCARE.

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