It was a skilled nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington called The Life Care Center that brought the realities of COVID-19 to light in America. On February 28, 2020, two people associated with the center tested positive for the virus. Since then, 37 residents have perished.
Sadly, similar stories have emerged as the virus has continued to spread.
The elderly population has been the hardest hit and highest-risk group since that fateful February date. According to the CDC, the three age ranges with the highest death counts are 85 and older, 75 to 84, and 65 to 74.
There has been much talk about the geographic epicenter for the pandemic. Latin America currently holds this unfortunate title. But for anyone who works on the front lines treating COVID-19 patients, they know that the true epicenter is long-term care facilities.
In an effort to control the spread of the virus and to save lives, many of these centers have shut their doors to visitors. While the suffering and loss of life has been tragic, cutting off residents from loved ones has been devastating. At a time when seniors most need love and support from friends and family, they aren’t able to get it. Phone and video calls help, but there is no substitute for in-person visits.
Caregivers at these centers have always known that seeing loved ones is critically important for the health and well-being of their residents. So, many are seeking out creative ways to allow live visits. While physical barriers and distancing are a given, hundreds of these facilities have begun using online appointment scheduling to restrict the number of visitors at any given time.
Bob La Loggia, CEO of AppointmentPlus, noted, “We’ve seen an outpouring of demand for visitation scheduling at long-term care facilities. Having had several relatives in nursing homes, I know how meaningful it is to allow residents to see their loved ones – and how important it is to family and friends to visit their parents, grandparents or other seniors. It feels good that we are helping this happen.”
Fortunately, AppointmentPlus is simple to implement. Many centers have it up and running within a couple hours. Plus, for many, the live training and setup assistance is a Godsend. Staff want to focus on serving their residents, not on configuring a software system.
There’s no way around the fact that the elderly will continue to be the highest risk age group for succumbing to the virus. But with proven procedures in place, and with tools like AppointmentPlus to control density, residents at long-term care facilities can feel safe and secure about visiting with their loved ones at a time when they need it most.