By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — It’s been a long time coming, but with the positivity rate for COVID-19 now below 10 percent in Dunn County, indoor visits are starting at the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center.
Certain rules apply, of course.
For example, visits are by reservation only and are only available in a designated visiting area at the facility.
Another rule is that only two visitors are allowed per resident, but no pets and no one under the age of 18.
Many of the residents and staff at CHRC have been vaccinated for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but the rules still apply, said Kenzie Galetka, administrator at CHRC.
“I wish I had the magic answer. I do think now that we have been vaccinated, and the county rate is down, we will hear soon about some guidance that is less stringent. Right now, we are just working with the guidance we have,” she said.
Pets are not allowed to visit for the simple reason that they cannot be sanitized.
“The virus is able to stay on surfaces for an amount of time. With dogs not being easily sanitized, and dogs not typically getting frequently washed, multiple times a day like we do our hands, is the reasoning for not allowing pets,” Galetka said.
Not allowing pets is part of the infection control protocol, she noted.
The reason for people under the age of 18 not being able to visit “is interesting,” Galetka said.
“I believe it relates to children not having the ability to consent to follow our infection control protocol. We do hear some back and forth on young ones from other facilities, and some do allow them. For now, we are not. But the way the county rates look, there may be a push for us to loosen that up a little bit,” she said.
Although Colfax Health and Rehab had been able to have outdoor visits for residents last summer, with the beginning of the fall months, positivity rates rose well over 10 percent, and outdoor visits had to be closed down.
With the positivity rates under 10 percent, outdoor visits will resume when the weather is nicer, Galetka said.
“We like the outdoor visits so much more just for the different environment for the residents and getting fresh air! Not being in an enclosed area is so nice, too, for infection control reasons,” she said.
For the past year during a pandemic, to say life has been difficult for residents and staff at Colfax Health and Rehab would be an understatement.
“I want the community to know that we continue to look every day at ways we can follow our guidance, but do what we can to make things as non-restrictive as possible,” Galetka said.
“We hope soon to be able to continue to flex our policies with things calming down a little bit. We also hope soon to see more guidance available to us now that vaccines have been administered to our residents,” she said.
And speaking of vaccines.
“One thing to note for community members who wish to be more involved with the nursing home when we are able to have visitors in the building is to really consider getting vaccinated themselves and doing this now rather than later, if it is available to them,” Galetka said.
“We don’t know for sure, but we imagine guidance for us to have folks inside the building any time soon may hinge on resident AND visitor vaccination,” she said.
The following information about visits at the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center is taken from information available at CHRC’s website.
If you want to download your own copy or read the information online, visit www.colfaxhealthandrehabilitation.com. Go to the “About” tab and then click on “Big Yellow House News.”
“With the utmost excitement, I have the pleasure of announcing to you that we have finally come down to a county percentage rate of less than 10 percent. This means we can finally begin our indoor visitation plan! We know this is exciting for many people and know that you are missing your family member or friend who is here with us at CHRC … We are so excited for the residents here to see you face to face and to get back to some type of normalcy. Please be patient with us as we get this program up and moving to provide the safest visitation possible for our residents here at CHRC,” Galetka wrote in the introduction.
Here are the guidelines:
• First point of contact for residents will have the first opportunity to visit their loved ones. After the first point of contact has had a visit scheduled with residents, other family members and friends will be able to visit their loved one.
• Visits will be limited to 30-minute time slots on the hour Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Visits MUST be scheduled with Ashley Wendt. Call 715-595-3334 to make a reservation for visiting. Reservations will not be scheduled through CHRC’s main telephone line.
• Schedule your visit at least 24 hours in advance. Only one visit per week can be scheduled now to ensure all residents are able to have a visit.
• Only two visitors are allowed per visit. No one under the age of 18 is allowed to visit, and no pets are allowed.
• Visitors must park in the back parking lot and then call 715-595-3334. Visitors will be greeted by a staff member and screened for COVID symptoms, including a temperature reading. Visitors are encouraged to notify CHRC if they discover they are COVID positive or have been directly exposed two weeks following their visit.
• All visitors must wear a mask. CHRC is asking visitors to bring their own mask. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided. Masks must always be worn by both visitors and residents during the entire duration of the visit. Residents will be provided with a mask from the facility.
• After screening, visitors will be escorted by our staff to the visitation area.
• Both visitor and resident must complete appropriate hand hygiene before and after the visit.
• During your visit, social distancing, a minimum of six feet, must take place at all times. No physical touching is permitted. This includes but is not limited to holding hands, hugging or kissing.
• A CHRC staff member will be always be present during the visit.
• No food or drinks can be shared between visitors and residents.
• No exchange of items will be allowed during these visits. Please continue to drop off items you wish to share with loved ones at the front door.
• Please note that should a positive case of COVID-19 be identified at CHRC, or the guidelines for visits are not followed, it may be necessary to suspend visitation.
• After each visit, the designated staff member will sanitize the visitation area according to facility protocol and sign the documentation.
• Colfax Health and Rehab has the right to deny indoor visits to the facility because the resident or visitor does not comply with infection control prevention or the resident or visitor is at risk of abuse or harm.
• The facility will ensure residents and their loved ones have access to the Office of the Ombudsman for Long Term Care at 1-800-815-0015.
• Visitation will not occur if the county positivity rate is higher than 10 percent. If the positivity rate is above 10 percent, visitation will only occur for compassionate care end-of-life situations.