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With elderly at risk, golden-age homes ramp up corona-protocols

Published:Thursday | March 12, 2020 | 12:20 AMAndré Williams and Hopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writers

Golden-age homes and infirmaries in Jamaica have ramped up protocols as they exercise caution for the elderly, the cohort regarded as the most vulnerable to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yesterday, The Gleaner visited at least five public and private golden-age homes where personnel said that combating the deadly novel coronavirus was a top priority.

Nurse Esmin Stewart at Glo’s Adult Care Centre said that staff at the home were monitoring developments and had taken the necessary precautions.

“In each area, we have sanitisers, paper towels, and we also have masks. When you come in, if you sneeze, you have to wear a mask, or if you have a fever, we do temperature checks as well,” Stewart told this newspaper.

“We have to take precautions every step of the way, and we are doing our best to keep them safe.”

The institution is home to 31 seniors – 14 males and 17 females.

Visitation has come under scrutiny, especially since the confirmation of Jamaica’s first SARS-CoV-2 case on Tuesday. Another case was confirmed yesterday.

“We always have a visitors’ book, but we have a special book because of the virus,” Stewart said. “Each person who comes in must write their names, phone number, time of visit, and their address, so that if anything [emerges], we know where to find them.”

Hygiene was top of mind for Glo’s Adult Care Centre as even our news team was instructed to use hand sanitiser provided at the entrance to the facility.

The CEO of the privately operated institution has stocked up on all the necessary cleaning agents, The Gleaner learnt.

The Nightingale Nursing Home, another privately operated institution, said that an advisory had been issued to the families of residents that visitation would be restricted because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“If it’s not necessary, if they want to take items, we just collect it from them, or if they really wish to see them, with exception of an emergency or something personal that they wish to do with them,” said nurse Farah Rainford, a supervisor.

Viewings by prospective clients have also been cut, with persons redirected to the home’s website. Staff have educated on self-assessing their health daily, and the facility is equipped with a temporary isolation room for any eventuality.

“If they are having any flu-like symptoms, they are asked not to come in. Also, the hand-washing procedure is very important at this time because the elderly are a vulnerable group,” the nursing supervisor said.

The home has a month’s supply of cleaning agents in store, the official said.

Lucea infirmary bracing for COVID-19

Chief executive officer of the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC), David Gardner, said that the council was set to sensitise staff at the Lucea Infirmary about the threat posed by COVID-19.

"A meeting is set for this Friday morning in Kingston with the minister of local government and representatives of all the various municipal corporations. We will be in attendance," Gardner told The Gleaner.

"At this meeting, we are expecting to know the way forward as it is expected that the minister will tell us how the situation will be treated and how best to safeguard the inmates at the infirmary if the coronavirus should hit the parish," said Gardner.

There are 51 residents and 20 staffers at the infirmary.

Gardner revealed that the HMC has been stockpiling food, restricting visitations, and carrying out sanitation work on the entire surroundings.

The World Health Organization, which expressed alarm about mounting SARS-CoV-2 infections, has declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Approximately 121,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 4,300 have died.