COVID-19 Information Archives

9/1/22: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

A new kind of COVID-19 shot will soon be available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week authorized updated vaccines that target the original strain of the coronavirus as well as the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. The hope is that these shots will improve protection against the currently circulating viruses that cause COVID.

The two subvariants mentioned above are currently causing most cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and are predicted to circulate more heavily this fall and winter.

Essentially an “updated booster” of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, these vaccines are designed to be given as a single booster dose at least two months following primary or booster vaccination. The Moderna version is currently approved for individuals age 18 and over while the Pfizer version is authorized for those 12 and up. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices/CDC will meet to make additional recommendations for the updated boosters prior to them being administered.

In keeping with Masonicare’s COVID vaccination policy, employees should expect that this updated booster will be necessary to be considered “up to date” with vaccination. In which case, it would be mandatory for all staff. However, no timeframes have been decided and there will be much more communication to come.

Working with our pharmacy partners, we have scheduled booster clinics in November (see “COVID Vaccine Clinic Calendar” on the Masonicare intranet) in anticipation of offering the updated boosters to our employees and residents. However, we may add additional dates sooner.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (Skilled Nursing): Two residents are currently COVID-positive and nine others are on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. Three COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: No cases reported.
  • Lower Campus Residential: Six residents are currently COVID-positive and 20 others are on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. Three COVID-positive employees are out.

HOME AND COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: Seven COVID-positive patients are on service as well as two presumed positive. Three COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Masonicare at Home: Has one COVID-positive client on service.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village: There are nine COVID-positive residents and one on quarantine due to exposure or symptoms.
  • Chester Village: One COVID-positive employee is out.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: One COVID-positive employee is out.

RESOURCES


8/12/22: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

When we talk about all the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic, we usually think about frontline healthcare workers. But there have been many others who performed essential jobs that kept our economy and society running.

The State of Connecticut will begin offering up to $1,000 to eligible, private-sector essential workers who were employed during the height of the pandemic. The Premium Pay Program (aka “Hero Pay”) will distribute funds to critical workers who were on the job between March 10, 2020 and May 7, 2022 and unable to work from home. Workers must have earned $149,999 annually or less to be eligible.

In addition to healthcare workers, people who work in childcare, grocery stores, pharmacies, transportation, critical manufacturing, and other frontline occupations may also qualify for the program.

For more information, or to apply, go to ctessentialworkerrelief.org.

MONKEYPOX

I was asked during a radio interview yesterday morning to share my thoughts about monkeypox. I understood the host’s curiosity, since this virus has been in the news a lot lately.

Monkeypox typically affects rodents and primates in parts of west and central Africa. Cases in humans are rare, but approximately 31,000 people across the globe have been infected this year. The first U.S. case was identified on May 19, and has
since grown to over 10,000. Symptoms can include flu (with fever), low energy, swollen lymph nodes, general body aches, and a painful or itchy rash or sores.

What I said during the interview is that although we are monitoring the spread of monkeypox, COVID continues to be the far greater threat to public health and to our residents and patients, specifically.

That’s because monkeypox doesn’t spread easily, the symptoms are easier to identify, outbreaks are easier to manage, and there are already two vaccines that are effective against it.

We did discuss monkeypox on our COVID Task Force call yesterday and the group agreed that we all need to think more broadly about defending against other communicable diseases that could threaten residents, patients, and coworkers.

Everyone should expect to see new signage at all of our locations soon stating “DO NOT ENTER IF YOU ARE FEELING SICK.” We need to work together to protect our communities from all communicable diseases including COVID, flu, gastrointestinal virus, monkeypox, etc.

CDC UPDATE

The CDC updated its guidance on “Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19.” I want to remind our staff that this update was intended for the general public. As a healthcare organization, Masonicare needs to adhere to different standards for isolation and quarantine. Please continue to communicate with your supervisor regarding travel, recent exposure, and symptoms. We will share any changes in guidance with you.

RESOURCES


7/21/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Q: Should I get another booster now or wait until fall?
A: If you’re eligible, get both!

It’s starting to feel like COVID is everywhere again. This time, the culprit is another Omicron subvariant called BA.5 which has mutated in a way that makes it easier to slip past our bodies’ immune defenses and infect our cells.

That’s why many people who recovered from COVID as recently as March or April have found themselves feeling sick again (though usually not as sick as they might have been had they not been vaccinated and boosted). It’s estimated that two out of every three new cases of COVID in the U.S. are caused by this BA.5 subvariant.

Omicron is continuing to mutate, which could (and probably will) lead to another wave in the fall. The CDC recommends individuals get added protection from staying up-to-date with vaccination. If you’re not up to date with your COVID vaccination, you don’t have to wait until fall to get your next shot.

More information on booster doses can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html

Use this link to Connecticut’s vaccine portal to find a provider near you: https://bit.ly/3opoDYo


NOVAVAX VACCINE APPROVED

This week, federal authorities granted emergency approval for the Novavax COVID vaccine for adults. It’s the first new type of vaccine approved in the U.S. in more than a year.

Unlike the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, Novavax uses the more traditional protein-based technology found in vaccines used to defend against viruses like hepatitis B and HPV.

Although it’s expected to be a popular alternative to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, supply will be limited … at least initially. States can begin requesting their first shipments of the Novavax vaccine next week but the first doses probably won’t arrive in Connecticut until sometime in August.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): There is one COVID-positive resident and three employees out (two COVID-positive, one due to exposure or pending test results).
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: The unit currently has 10 COVID-positive patients. One employee is out after testing positive.
  • Lower Campus Residential: No cases reported.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There is one COVID-positive patient on service and five others presumed positive. Three employees are out: two confirmed COVID-positive and one due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: One employee at Welles Country Village is out with COVID.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village: Four residents are currently COVID-positive and one is on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. One employee is out due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Chester Village: Three employees are out after testing positive for COVID.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: No cases reported.

RESOURCES


7/7/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

IN THE NEWS

  • Sandra Lindsay, a New York City nurse and the first person in the United States to receive a COVID vaccine, will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony at the White House next week.
  • COVID vaccinations for children under five are underway, with about 3,000 youngsters in Connecticut vaccinated so far. If you are a parent of a child between the ages of six months and five years, please discuss the children’s COVID vaccine with your pediatrician or family doctor.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its approval for omicron-specific COVID vaccines, which are expected to be available later this year. We are still awaiting more guidance on whether additional boosters will be recommended in the fall.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): There are three COVID-positive residents and four employees out (one COVID-positive and three due to exposure or pending test results).
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: There are currently eight COVID-positive patients.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One COVID-positive resident is in quarantine.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: Six COVID-positive patients are on service as well as five who are presumed positive.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village: There are five COVID-positive residents and three others in quarantine due to exposure or symptoms. Two COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Chester Village: One resident is COVID-positive.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: One COVID-positive employee is out.

RESOURCES


6/24/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Next week, an advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet to discuss whether existing vaccines should be modified to combat specific strains of the COVID virus.

INFANTS AND TODDLERS NOW ELIGIBLE

In other COVID vaccine news, vaccinations for children between the ages of six months and five years has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with young ones eligible to receive their first doses of the vaccine this week. This opens up 17 million young children under the age of five in the U.S. to be eligible to take COVID vaccines, including approximately 180,000 children across Connecticut. If you are a parent of a young child, please discuss the children’s COVID vaccine with your pediatrician or family doctor.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): There are two COVID-positive residents and another 44 residents on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. Two COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: There are six COVID-positive patients and one COVID-positive employee is out.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One resident is on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are 11 COVID-positive patients on service and 17 patients presumed positive. Two COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village: One assisted living resident has tested positive for COVID.
  • Chester Village: No cases reported.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: No cases reported.

RESOURCES


6/9/2022: WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

CDC has found that the protection offered by COVID vaccines diminishes over time.
The best way to maintain that protection – and avoid having to test regularly – is to get
another booster.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): Five employees are out – one COVID-positive and four due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: One COVID-positive patient.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One COVID-positive employee is out.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are six COVID-positive patients on service and one other presumed positive. Three employees are out – one COVID-positive and two due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village: One COVID-positive employee is out.
  • Chester Village: No cases reported.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: One resident is COVID-positive and another is on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. One COVID-positive employee is out.

RESOURCES


6/2/2022: WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

The CDC updated its definition of “up to date” for COVID-19 vaccination: people age five years and older are considered up to date when they have received all doses in the primary series AND all booster doses recommended for them, when eligible.

On May 20, the CDC strengthened its recommendations for second boosters. To be considered up to date, people age 50 and older (and those age 12 and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised) who received a Pfizer or Moderna primary and a booster dose at least four months ago SHOULD get a second booster dose.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): Two residents are currently COVID-positive and three COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: Seven patients are COVID-positive and 14 others are on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One resident is currently COVID-positive and two others are on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. Three COVID-positive employees are out.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are currently nine COVID-positive patients on service and another 21 presumed positive. Eight employees are out, including four who tested positive and four due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village: Two COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Chester Village: No cases reported.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Two residents and one employee are COVID-positive.

RESOURCES

VIDEO UPDATE

If you or a member of your family tests positive for COVID, are there ways you can try to prevent it from spreading to the other members of your household? Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, has some tips from the experts. And Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services, shares new guidance from the CDC on the definition of being “up to date” on vaccinations for those 50 years of age and older. And after a slight increase in COVID cases within our residential communities, talk about how Masonicare is responding and preparing for the summer months. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 6/1/2022:
 

 


5/19/2022: WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

With the COVID positivity and transmission rates still elevated, I will continue to put
out weekly updates for all Masonicare employees. Please continue to do your best to
reduce the risk of infection at work, at home, and in the community.

KIDS AND COVID

You may remember that the Omicron surge last winter caused a rapid spike in COVID
cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the U.S. According to a recent report from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hospitalization rates among children
5–11 years old were twice as high during that surge in unvaccinated children.
Prevalence was especially high among Black children.

Increasing vaccination among younger children, “particularly among racial and ethnic
minority groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19, can prevent COVID-19–
associated hospitalization and severe outcomes,” the CDC experts wrote.

The advisory council on immunization practices (ACIP) is meeting today to further discuss booster doses for children ages 5-11. There should be more guidance afterwards.

Also, it’s been reported that at least one of the two COVID vaccines under review for children under 5 – a two-dose vaccine from Moderna – could be available by June.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): There are currently 35 COVID-positive residents and nine others on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. Eight employees are out, including seven who are confirmed positive and one due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: There are eight COVID-positive patients and 12 others on quarantine due to symptoms or pending test results. Additionally, three COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One resident is on precautionary quarantine.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are currently 14 COVID-positive patients on service and another six presumed positive. Five employees are out, including three who tested positive and two due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Masonicare at Home: There are two COVID-positive clients on service and one on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. One COVID-positive employee is out.
  •  External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES


5/12/2022: WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

In light of the increase in COVID cases we’re experiencing, this is a good time to remind you that the coronavirus and its many variants can mimic other ailments. Remember, symptoms of COVID can include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell

A reminder to staff, should you experience any of these symptoms – especially a combination of the first three – do not report to work. Instead, notify your supervisor immediately, followed by your medical provider.
 

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): There are currently 13 COVID-positive residents and six COVID-positive employees out.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: There are 11 COVID-positive patients and 11 others on quarantine due to symptoms or pending test results. Additionally, four COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One employee is out due to exposure or pending test results.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are currently seven COVID-positive patients on service and another five presumed positive. Six employees are out, including one who has tested positive and five due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Masonicare at Home: There is one COVID-positive client on service and one on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. One COVID-positive employee is out.
  • External ALSAs: Welles Country Village reports one COVID-positive resident.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village: Two residents are COVID-positive and another is quarantining due to exposure. Two employees are out due to home exposure.
  • Chester Village: Two employees are out: one due to a positive COVID test result and another due to exposure/pending test results.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Three employees are out: two who tested positive for COVID and one due to exposure or pending test results.

5/5/2022: WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

It feels like most of us know someone who has recently come down with COVID or been exposed to someone who has the virus. Connecticut’s COVID test positivity rate climbed above 10% this week and an average of 1,025 cases per day were reported over the last seven days. Cases have increased by 25% from the average two weeks ago. COVID-related deaths have increased by 9%.

Many of our residents, patients and staff may be considering a second booster. The CDC website discusses some factors people should think about as they consider a second booster, including eligibility, risk factors, and circumstances in which it might be better to wait.

Also, I want to remind everyone that free at-home test kits are still available from covid.gov/tests. Using at-home tests helps reduce the burden on testing sites, which really should be for individuals with very obvious COVID symptoms.


HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): There are currently five COVID-positive residents and one on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. Two staff members are out with COVID.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: There are two COVID-positive patients and one COVID-positive employee is out.
  • Lower Campus Residential: No cases reported.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are currently five COVID-positive patients on service and another 17 presumed positive. Seven employees are out, including five who have tested positive and two due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Masonicare at Home: There is one COVID-positive client on service and two on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. One employee is out after testing positive.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): Five residents have tested positive for COVID and two others are quarantining due to symptoms or exposure. Two COVID-positive employees are out and one is out due to home exposure.
  • Chester Village: Two residents are COVID-positive and a third is on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: There are two COVID-positive residents and one COVID-positive staff member is out.

RESOURCES

VIDEO UPDATE

How accurate are the at-home rapid COVID tests at detecting the latest COVID subvariant? Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, tells us what experts are saying and the considerations to think about when you have symptoms but are testing negative. And Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services, shares new guidance from the CDC on when to get the second booster shot. I also talk about the slight increase in cases within our residential communities and how Masonicare is responding. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 5/4/2022:
 

 


4/28/2022: WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

MASKING UPDATE
In response to the surge of COVID cases in our residential communities, ALL employees at Ashlar Village, Chester Village, and Masonicare at Mystic will be required to wear masks until further notice. We will continue to monitor the positivity rate and make adjustments to our infection control guidelines as necessary. Thank you for your cooperation.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): Two residents are currently COVID positive and three employees are out.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: No cases reported.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One resident is on quarantine due to exposure.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are currently three COVID-positive patients on service and another 14 presumed positive. Three COVID-positive employees are out, and one is out due to exposure or pending test results
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): Two residents are current COVID-positive and one is on quarantine due to exposure or pending test results. Four COVID-positive employees are out and one is out due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Chester Village: Seven residents are currently COVID-positive.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: One resident has tested positive for COVID and one employee is out due to exposure or pending test results.

RESOURCES


4/21/2022: BI-WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

After a two-month decline, we are seeing an increase locally and nationally in COVID positivity rates – not surprising, given the easing of masking requirements in most places and the spread of the more contagious BA.2 variant. This week, Connecticut’s seven-day rolling COVID positivity rate reached 7.68% (which, of course, could be a big undercount, since more people are testing at home without reporting their infections or skipping testing altogether). About a third of all those hospitalized in the state due to COVID are not fully vaccinated.

Even though cases are on the rise, the next wave is not expected to peak nearly as high as the last one.

As we always have, Masonicare will continue to monitor these trends and adjust our infection control measures as needed. 

UPCOMING BOOSTER CLINICS
Masonicare is not yet mandating a second booster for our employees. However, we recognize that some residents and eligible employees may want to receive a booster. For their convenience, we are scheduling a series of clinics with our pharmacy partner.

VAX TARGETING FLU AND COVID SHOWS PROMISE
Drug maker Novavax is testing a vaccine that aims to protect against both COVID and the flu. The company says that early data is promising and it plans to move forward with phase two trials this year.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): Two residents are on quarantine due to exposure and two COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: No cases reported.
  • Lower Campus Residential: No cases reported.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are currently three COVID-positive patients on service and another 17 presumed positive. Two COVID-positive employees are out.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): Two residents are quarantining after test positive for COVID. Two employees are out – one with COVID, and one with test results pending.
  • Chester Village: One resident is COVID-positive and seven others are currently on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure. One employee is out.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: No cases reported.

RESOURCES


4/7/2022: BI-WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved a second COVID vaccine booster for people age 50 and older. However, there is some debate in the medical and scientific communities over whether a second booster is really necessary at this point in time.

Based on the above, Masonicare is NOT yet mandating a second booster for our employees. However, we recognize that some residents and eligible employees may want to receive a booster. For their convenience, we are scheduling a series of clinics with our pharmacy partner.

We do expect that another booster will be recommended for certain individuals in the fall.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): One resident has tested positive for COVID and one staff member is out.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: No cases reported.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One employee is out due to exposure or pending test results.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are currently five COVID-positive patients on service and another seven presumed positive. One employee is out due to exposure or pending test results.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): One resident has tested positive for COVID and two COVID-positive staff members are out.
  • Chester Village: No cases reported.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: One COVID-positive staff member is out.

RESOURCES


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 4/6/2022:
 


3/24/2022: BI-WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that COVID-19 infection rates are likely to flatten or rise in the next few weeks in the U.S. after their dramatic drop following the omicron variant’s rapid spread across the country. Whether or not that is going to lead to another surge is unclear, he said.

Dr. Fauci predicted that the newest variant, BA.2, will soon become the dominant strain of the virus. Although it’s been described as more contagious, there’s no evidence yet that it causes more severe illness or risk of hospitalization or that current COVID vaccines are less effective against it.

Here in Connecticut, the positivity rate was 3.25% at last check and 99 people were currently hospitalized. Out of all of the COVID-related hospitalizations, about 42% are not fully vaccinated.

COVID BOOSTER NEWS

In April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will consider applications from drug makers Moderna and Pfizer to authorize a so-called second COVID booster. The difference between the two is that Moderna wants its booster authorized for adults 18 and over while Pfizer is only requesting authorization for adults 65 and older. Immunocompromised people are already authorized to get a three-dose primary series with a booster given at least three months afterward.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): Six employees are currently out due to exposure or have test results pending.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: No cases reported.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One COVID-positive resident is on quarantine and one COVID-positive employee is out.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: Two COVID-positive patients currently on service and three others on service presumed positive.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): No cases reported.
  • Chester Village: Currently has two COVID-positive residents.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: No cases reported.

RESOURCES


3/10/2022: BI-WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

With the COVID positivity rate continuing to drop throughout the region and within our own continuum, I am changing the frequency of these COVID updates to bi-weekly moving forward.

If there are any changes or major announcements regarding COVID or Masonicare’s response to it, I will be sure to share them with you.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): One employee is out due to exposure or with test results pending.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: No cases reported.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One employee is out due to exposure or pending test results.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: Three COVID-positive patients on service and three others presumed positive. One COVID-positive employee is out.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): No cases reported.
  • Chester Village: One resident remains COVID-positive.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Two employees are out – one COVID-positive and one due to exposure or pending test results.

RESOURCES


3/3/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Yesterday marked exactly two years since I formed Masonicare’s Coronavirus Task Force to prepare for the looming threat of COVID-19. It drew staff from all different disciplines and service lines and continues to coordinate our COVID response to this day. But that group represents just a tiny fraction of our overall workforce that has shown so much dedication, compassion, and courage in working on the front lines of a global pandemic. We’ve made it this far thanks to YOU - OUR STAFF.

FREE AT-HOME TEST KITS AVAILABLE

If you haven’t already, you can still order free at-home COVID test kits at special.usps.com/testkits or COVIDtests.gov (limit of four per household). This week, President Biden said that a second wave of tests would soon be made available to the public.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): Two employees are currently out – one COVID-positive and one awaiting test results.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: Three patients are currently COVID-positive.
  • Lower Campus Residential: No cases reported.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: Three COVID-positive patients on service and two others presumed positive. Two employees are out after testing positive.
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported.
  • External ALSAs: Smithfield Gardens reports 15 COVID-positive residents on service and one COVID-positive employee out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): No cases reported.
  • Chester Village: Three residents are currently COVID-positive.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Two COVID-positive employees are out.

RESOURCES

VIDEO UPDATE

To mask or not to mask? Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, updates us on the latest guidance from the CDC and what it means for you. And Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services, explains how you can easily stay up to date on the spread of COVID in your local community on the CDC’s new website tracker. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 3/2/2022:
 


2/24/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

At last check, the COVID positivity rate in Connecticut was 3.51%. I know employees and residents in our residential communities – particularly independent living – are wondering when we might be able to ease our masking requirements. Although we’re not ready to make any changes on that front just yet, I promise that this and other infection control measures continue to be reviewed on a regular basis.

“STABILITY” IN SIGHT?

COVID isn’t going away. But senior executives at Moderna said this week that COVID is shifting from a pandemic to an endemic phase in regions like ours. This would be marked by “a period of stability in case counts, hospitalizations and deaths,” according to Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton. That is, it would follow seasonal patterns like other respiratory viruses such as the flu. Moderna executives also said that we should expect to need COVID boosters annually.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): No resident or patient cases reported. Five employees are out (one COVID-positive and four due to exposure or pending test results).
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: Two patients are COVID-positive.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One COVID-positive resident remains hospitalized.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: Eight patients on service are currently COVID-positive and two others presumed positive. Two employees are out after testing positive.
  • Masonicare at Home: One employee is currently out with COVID.
  • External ALSAs: There is an outbreak at Smithfield Gardens, where 20 residents have tested positive for COVID, though symptoms are generally mild. There is one COVID-positive staff member out at Fort Hill.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): Two residents are quarantining due to exposure.
  • Chester Village: Two residents and one employee have tested positive for COVID.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: 10 residents are currently COVID-positive, though three are expected to come off quarantine tomorrow (Friday). One employee is out after testing positive.

RESOURCES


2/17/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Downward trends in COVID positivity rate and hospitalizations continue. Masonicare at Mystic, which is currently dealing with an outbreak in its memory care community, reports that those residents who have tested positive are either asymptomatic or showing very mild symptoms. 

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): One resident was due to come off quarantine today. Two employees are out due to exposure or have test results pending. 
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: One COVID-positive patient. 
  • Lower Campus Residential: One COVID-positive resident remains hospitalized. 

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES 

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are nine COVID-positive patients on service and four others presumed positive. Three employees are out – two COVID-positive and one due to exposure or pending test results. 
  • Masonicare at Home: No cases reported. 
  • External ALSAs: No cases reported. 

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES 

  • Ashlar Village (all): No cases reported. 
  • Chester Village: No cases reported. 
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Currently, 11 residents are COVID-positive. As a result, the rest of memory care is on quarantine. One COVID-positive employee is out. 

COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 2/16/2022:


2/10/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

IN THE NEWS

  • The latest COVID positivity rate in Connecticut was 5.16%. That’s down from a record-high 24.5% on January 7.
  • Governor Lamont announced that the statewide mask mandate for schools and childcare centers will be lifted by February 28. After that, it will be up to school superintendents and town leaders to decide what’s best for their districts.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will consider granting Pfizer’s COVID vaccine emergency use authorization for children aged 6 months to 5 years. If approved, the vaccine could become available to this age group before the end of the month.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): Two employees are out due to exposure or have test results pending, two residents are currently COVID-positive, and one resident is on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: Three patients currently COVID-positive.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One COVID-positive resident (still hospitalized) and one quarantining due to symptoms or exposure.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are 13 COVID-positive patients on service and five others presumed positive. Four employees are out – three COVID-positive and one symptomatic (test results pending).
  • Masonicare at Home: One COVID-positive client on service.
  • External ALSAs: Fort Hill reports two COVID-positive employees out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): One resident and one employee are currently COVID-positive.
  • Chester Village and Masonicare at Mystic: No cases reported.

RESOURCES


2/3/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

The state’s COVID positivity rate continues to drop and the rate of new cases is the lowest it has been in more than a month. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID in Connecticut has also declined steadily. But, with that good news we also reached a sobering milestone this week: the 10,000th confirmed COVID-related death in Connecticut.

As we look forward to an easing of restrictions and a return to many of the social activities we enjoy, please know that my thoughts are with those of you who have lost friends, loved ones, residents or patients to COVID since the pandemic began.

THEN AND NOW

I read an article yesterday that looked at where we are now in the fight against COVID compared to exactly one year ago. Here are some highlights I wanted to share:

  • One year ago, the U.S. had just over 26 million COVID cases. Today, we’re at over 75 million.
  • 250 million people have received at least one COVID shot. A year ago, it was 31 million.
  • 75% of the country’s population and 80% of the vaccine-eligible (age 5 and up) have received at least one shot.
  • Nearly 212 million are fully vaccinated (boosters not included). A year ago, that number was 8.5 million.
  • 64% of the total population is fully vaccinated, 68% of everyone 5 and older.
  • 88 million folks have had a booster or additional dose, including 45% of fully vaccinated adults. Another 85 million are booster-eligible.

THE BEST SOURCE FOR ALL THINGS COVID: CDC.GOV

Although we’ve shared a massive amount of information with you about the virus and the best ways to protect against it – including vaccine effectiveness and safety – the most reliable and up-to-date source continues to be the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID website. Moving forward, I’m going to include a link to this site in every weekly COVID update.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): One employee is out after testing positive for COVID and four others are out due to exposure or pending test results. Ten residents remain on quarantine: seven due to positive test results, and three due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: One COVID-positive patient and one quarantining due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One resident who tested positive for COVID remains hospitalized.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: Five employees are out, three of whom tested positive for COVID and two who are symptomatic. There are currently 22 COVID-positive patients on service and eight others presumed positive.
  • Masonicare at Home: One COVID-positive employee and one COVID-positive client on service.
  • External ALSAs: Fort Hill has one COVID-positive resident.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): Three residents are currently on quarantine: two COVID-positive and one due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Chester Village: One employee due to return from a bout with COVID.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Two employees out: one COVID-positive and one due to exposure or pending test result.

VIDEO UPDATE

A new COVID sub-variant may be even more contagious than the already highly transmissible Omicron. How concerned should we be? Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, provides the latest information. And Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services, talks about the upcoming family vaccination clinic. I also talk about the proof-of-vaccination process for visitors at Masonicare Health Center and when our residents should expect to see restrictions on social activities lifted. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 2/2/2022:






1/27/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Yesterday’s COVID positivity rate in Connecticut was just under 11% and the number of patients hospitalized with the virus is continuing to decrease. These are encouraging signs and will influence our plans to gradually resume normal dining and recreational programs at our residential communities. Your affiliate leaders will have more to share about that in the near future.

WINTER STORM WARNING

We are monitoring a storm that could drop six to 12 inches of snow on Connecticut, beginning Saturday morning and lasting until Saturday night/early Sunday morning. We are well prepared at all Masonicare locations, but remind those of you scheduled to work to please use extreme caution when driving. Give yourself extra time for the commute. Accommodations will be made for anyone who may need to spend the night at Masonicare Health Center or our residential communities, so feel free to bring a bag with extra clothes or other personal items. Be safe!

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): Six employees out (three COVID-positive, three due to exposure or pending test results), 13 COVID-positive residents, and three residents on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: One COVID-positive employee out, five COVID-positive patients, and five patients quarantining due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Lower Campus Residential: Two COVID-positive residents remain hospitalized.


HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: There are 27 COVID-positive patients on service and another 26 presumed positive. Nine employees are out (seven COVID-positive, two symptomatic).
  • Masonicare at Home: One COVID-positive employee out and two clients on service quarantining due to symptoms or exposure.
  • External ALSAs: Two residents at Smithfield Gardens are COVID-positive. At Fort Hill, one employee is out with COVID and nine residents have tested positive.


RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): Two employees are currently out (one COVID-positive, one due to exposure or pending test result) and two residents are confirmed positive.
  • Chester Village: Two COVID-positive employees currently out.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Six employees are currently out with COVID and one resident has tested positive.

1/20/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

There are signs that the post-holiday wave of COVID has peaked and may be starting to recede. The positivity rate in Connecticut has dropped slightly (16.5% at last check) and we are seeing fewer cases among staff, residents, and patients.

Still, I know that some areas at Masonicare continue to face staffing challenges. We will see some relief as fewer and fewer employees need to quarantine due to positive test results or exposures at home or in the community. Thank you to everyone for “picking up the slack” over the last several weeks.

NEW VISITATION GUIDELINES

Nursing home residents, like those at Masonicare Health Center, are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. That’s why we welcomed the announcement yesterday of Governor Lamont’s executive order requiring nursing home visitors to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result. Under the order, which takes effect this Saturday, the Connecticut Department of Public Health will be distributing 50,000 rapid antigen tests to all nursing homes. These are only to be used for testing visitors.

WEBSITE OFFERING FREE AT-HOME TEST KITS

Every U.S. household can now order up to four free COVID-19 tests on the new federal government website COVIDtests.gov. The website also has instructions on how to order more than four tests (health insurance companies are now required to reimburse you for eight at-home tests per month for each person on the plan).

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): 13 employees out (seven COVID positive and six due to exposure or pending test results). There are currently 16 COVID-positive residents and five others on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: One COVID-positive employee out and seven patients currently positive.
  • Lower Campus Residential: Two residents (currently hospitalized) have tested positive for COVID. Seven other residents are quarantining due to symptoms or exposure.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: 31 COVID-positive patients on service and 35 others on quarantine (presumed positive). There are 13 employees out – seven COVID-positive and six awaiting test results.
  • Masonicare at Home: No staff or client cases to report.
  • External ALSAs: Welles Country Village has three COVID-positive residents. Smithfield Gardens has two COVID-positive residents and one employee out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (all): Five employees are out – four COVID-positive and one due to exposure or pending test results. One resident is COVID-positive and six others are on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure.
  • Chester Village: Two COVID-positive staff out.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Five employees out – three are COVID-positive and two due to exposure or have test results pending. One resident is currently COVID-positive and another is quarantining due to symptoms or exposure.

VIDEO UPDATE

Have you tested positive for COVID despite being vaccinated? In our latest video update, Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare’s Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, offers some advice from healthcare experts on what to do next. Masonicare Health Center Administrator Courtney Wood talks about how her team is handling the latest uptick in COVID cases. Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services, explains the four ways employee team members can submit proof of vaccination before the January 31 deadline. And I talk about when we hope to lift restrictions at our residential communities. Watch below.  


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 1/19/2022:


1/13/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

The big headlines this week:

  • The COVID positivity rate in Connecticut was hovering around 21% at last count, with just under 2,000 people hospitalized … most of whom are unvaccinated.
  • The White House announced this week that, starting January 15 (this Saturday), health insurers must cover the cost of at-home COVID tests. The new requirement means that most people with private health insurance can buy at-home tests online or in stores and have them paid for at the time of purchase or get reimbursed by submitting a claim to their insurer. The government is also planning to provide Americans with one billion free at-home test kits, and will soon announce plans to provide free N95 masks as well.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that the vaccine requirements for staff at all U.S. nursing homes and other federally funded healthcare facilities (like Masonicare Health Center) are legal and can continue.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): 18 residents are currently COVID-positive and 29 employees are out – 15 COVID-positive, 11 on quarantine due to exposure, and three symptomatic with tests pending.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: Seven COVID-positive patients on the unit and four employees out (three confirmed COVID-positive).
  • Lower Campus Residential: Two residents are currently COVID-positive – one currently hospitalized and one recuperating at MHC.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: 15 employees out – nine who are COVID-positive and six due to exposure or awaiting test results. There are currently 33 COVID-positive patients on service.
  • Masonicare at Home: Two COVID-positive staff out, one COVID-positive client on service, and one client on quarantine due to exposure.
  • External ALSAs: Welles Country Village has six COVID-positive residents on service and two positive employees out. Smithfield Gardens reports one positive resident on service and one resident on precautionary quarantine.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES
 

  • Ashlar Village (all): 12 employees out (seven COVID-positive, five due to exposure or pending test results) and five residents on quarantine (three COVID-positive and two due to symptoms or exposure).
  • Chester Village: One COVID-positive employee out and two others out due to home exposures. One resident has tested positive and eight others are quarantining with symptoms or due to exposure.
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Three COVID-positive employees are out. One resident is positive while seven others are on quarantine due to symptoms or exposure.

1/6/2022: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

The COVID positivity rate in Connecticut hit 24% on Monday – a new all-time pandemic record. Nationally, we’re seeing over half a million new COVID infections a day and health officials are warning that the peak is still to come.

Obviously, we are very concerned about how this will impact us, our families, our coworkers, and everyone in our care. That infections have tended to be less severe in the vaccinated and boosted offers some encouragement.

We have a high number of staff across the organization out due to positive test results or exposures at home or in the community. I know this is putting a strain on our workforce. I deeply appreciate everything you’re doing to keep our operations running through this very challenging time.

BOOSTER NEWS

The CDC this week authorized the use of a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15. They can start receiving boosters immediately.

The agency is also recommending a Pfizer booster at five months after the initial series for all age groups. The booster interval recommendation for people who received the J&J vaccine (two months) or the Moderna vaccine (six months) has not changed.

COVID TREATMENTS APPROVED FOR EMERGENCY USE

The FDA authorized two oral drugs to be prescribed to adults and children who have mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and are at high risk for progression to severe illness, including hospitalization or death. Of the two, Pfizer’s Paxlovid is the preferred clinical choice by federal health officials because it’s been shown to reduce hospitalization risk by up to 90% in clinical trials. The other is Merck’s molnupiravir, which is about 30% effective. The drugs are intended to be given as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset, the FDA said.

HOME TEST KITS

We know that some employees make use of home test kits. If using a home test, please be sure to follow up with your provider and contact the designee at your affiliate regarding exposures or symptoms. As a best practice, take a picture of your test result for your records.

Also, please be aware that test kits are in short supply and scammers are taking advantage by selling phony kits to consumers online. Protect yourself by following these tips:

  • Check that the at-home kit has FDA approval. Before buying any kit online, make sure that the test is from the FDA’s approved list of antigen test or PCR test vendors.
  • Research before buying. Before you buy a product from a seller, check that they’re legit by searching for their name online, along with keywords like “scam,” “complaint,” or “review.”​​​​​​
  • Get a test from your doctor. Your healthcare provider can recommend or offer an approved at-home test or tell you where to find a legitimate clinic.
  • When buying kits, try to pay using a credit card. If you’re charged for an order you never got, or the product is faulty, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): 11 residents are currently COVID-positive. There are 36 employees out: 29 positive, and seven with test results pending.
  • Behavioral Health Hospital: Eight COVID-positive employees are out and one patient has tested positive.
  • Lower Campus Residential: One employee out.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice: 42 COVID-positive patients on service and 26 employees out who are either COVID-positive or awaiting test results. Another 25 employees who were exposed or COVID-positive (and asymptomatic) are working with N95 masks.
  • Masonicare at Home: Two employees out are due to return next week.
  • External ALSAs: Virginia Connolly, Smithfield Gardens, Fort Hill, and Welles Country Village all report COVID positive or symptomatic staff and/or residents.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village (Independent Living): Two COVID-positive residents and seven employees out (five positives, two on quarantine). Assisted Living reports 12 employees out and two residents on quarantine.
  • Chester Village: Two residents remain on quarantine. Two employees are out (one awaiting test results).
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Eight employees are out with COVID. A staff member who was out due to exposure is due to return tomorrow. Another is due to return by the weekend and one staff member is out with symptoms and pending a test.

VIDEO UPDATE

As Omicron cases surge, people are wondering when and how the pandemic will end and COVID becomes a constant but manageable presence in our lives like the flu. Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, explains what experts are saying about that. Plus, Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services for Masonicare, provides an update on the continuing employee vaccine booster clinics. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 1/5/2022:


12/30/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Omicron is here. Over the last week, this extremely contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus has caused the number of positive cases to spike across our state and within our continuum. 

Connecticut’s COVID testing positivity rate jumped from the highest percentage the state had seen at just under 15% on Tuesday to another record-breaking number at 17.8% yesterday. This is the highest recorded test positivity since widespread testing began earlier in the pandemic. Breakthrough cases are common, as we are seeing among our own staff and residents. 

Unvaccinated people are being hospitalized at a rate 15 times or more than vaccinated. Those who have been vaccinated AND boosted are reporting much more mild symptoms, usually on par with a bad cold. 

Even though Omicron infections have tended to be less severe than prior variants, the rapid, large increase in the number of infections could still result in many people requiring medical care and hospitalization in a short period. This could put a strain on the entire healthcare system … which includes Masonicare. 

Using the latest, updated guidance from the CDC, we will take whatever steps are necessary to maintain adequate staffing levels. 

As a reminder, symptoms of COVID include (but are not limited to): runny nose or congestion, fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, fatigue, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. 

The next few weeks will be challenging for all of us, so I ask you to continue to be strong, follow all infection control guidelines, and be super-aware of your surroundings when you are away from work. 

HEALTHCARE SERVICES 

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing): 18 COVID-positive staff, 10 out with tests pending, and 13 out on quarantine. Five residents have also tested positive.
  • The Behavioral Health Hospital has two COVID-positive employees. All patients were tested today and are negative. The unit is now off quarantine.
  • Lower Campus Residential: Wright Building has two residents on precautionary quarantine. 

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES 

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports 29 COVID-positive clients on service and 25 staff members out – seven who have tested positive, and 18 with test results pending.
  • External ALSAs: Smithfield Gardens has four COVID-positive employees out. Virginia Connolly has one resident and one employee that tested positive. 

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES 

  • Ashlar Village: One independent living resident has tested positive for COVID. Two others are quarantining due to direct exposure. Nine employees (five independent living, four assisted living) have tested positive as of Thursday afternoon, while seven others (three in IL, four in AL) are on precautionary quarantine.
  • Chester Village: Two residents are on quarantine after testing positive for COVID. 
  • Masonicare at Mystic: Two employees are out after testing positive for COVID. One assisted living resident who returned to MAM after a lengthy hospital stay tested positive before discharge but is asymptomatic and on quarantine. 

As 2021 draws to a close, I offer you my deepest thanks for your hard work and dedication over the last year. You have shown great courage in the face of our biggest challenge. We will rise to the occasion again and get through the latest surge together. 
May the New Year bring good health and happiness to you and your loved ones. 
− JP


12/23/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

One year ago this week, Masonicare employees and residents received their initial doses of the COVID vaccine. That day – December 21, 2020 – will forever stand out in my memory, not just because of the intense media coverage, but because it marked a real turning point in our fight against this terrible virus. After a long year of pain and heartbreak, we finally had a source of hope.

Our fight is not over and there will be setbacks. The omicron variant is surging and breakthrough cases in the community and among our own staff are on the rise. But as we reflect on this milestone for Masonicare, let’s be proud of how much we’ve accomplished over the last year. Let’s be grateful for how many lives the vaccines have saved. And let’s keep working together to end this pandemic for good.

NEED A COVID TEST?

Thanks to omicron, which now accounts for over 70% of all new COVID cases, demand for COVID tests – both at-home kits and in the community – is extremely high. A number of walk-up and drive-up COVID testing sites across the state do not require an appointment. Please see this Hartford Courant article for a list of those locations and the dates/times tests will be offered between now and the end of the year.

CELEBRATE SAFELY

Again, as much as we want everyone to enjoy the holiday season, we need you to do so safely. Some steps you can take include:

  • Limiting the number of people in attendance.
  • Making sure everyone who is attending is free of COVID symptoms or exposures to COVID-positive individuals.
  • Asking everyone to do an at-home test the day of the gathering to reduce potential exposure.
  • Opening windows, if possible.
  • Wearing facemasks while carpooling.
  • COVID-19 testing after air travel or other instances of close proximity to others.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing) currently has four COVID-positive staff members, seven symptomatic staff members out pending test results, and 10 staff members out on quarantine.
  • Masonicare cannot restrict visitation at the Health Center. We must follow the latest guidance from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which states that “visitation is allowed for all residents at all times.” For everyone’s safety, we need to strictly follow all infection control guidelines.
  • One per-diem staff member in the Behavioral Health Hospital has tested positive for COVID.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports 14 COVID-positive clients on service and seven staff members out (two COVID-positive, five on quarantine with tests pending).
  • Three employees at Smithfield Gardens are out due to symptoms or exposure.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village independent living has two COVID-positive staff members out and a third out due to an exposure at home.

VIDEO UPDATE

As omicron cases surge, how can we safely gather for the holidays? Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, breaks down the latest info. Plus, Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services for Masonicare, provides an update on upcoming COVID booster clinics for employee team members AND their families. Watch below.

A very Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating! I wish you and your loved ones a safe and joyful holiday.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 12/22/2021:


12/16/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

As we approach the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, when millions of Americans will gather indoors with friends and loved ones, I am concerned about an even bigger spike in COVID-19 cases among the unvaccinated and those who have not yet received a booster.

As professionals working in healthcare who have an obligation to support public health, we can and should set a good example for the communities we serve. Masonicare was proactive in requiring vaccinations for all eligible employees, and now we’re being proactive by requiring boosters. I hope you understand why this is necessary. The residents and patients in our care are among the most vulnerable to serious illness, so we need to do everything humanly possible to lessen their risk of exposure. The majority of breakthrough cases resulting in hospitalization are happening in seniors.

Also, boosters help prevent infection from the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19, according to White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.

And again, as you make your holiday plans, please take whatever steps you can to keep your gatherings safe. These include:

  • Limiting the number of people in attendance
  • Making sure everyone who is attending is free of COVID symptoms or exposures to COVID-positive individuals
  • Asking everyone to do an at-home test the day of the gathering to reduce potential exposure
  • Opening windows, if possible
  • Wearing facemasks while carpooling
  • COVID-19 testing after air travel or other instances of close proximity to others

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing) has seven employees out who are symptomatic and awaiting COVID test results. Four other employees are on quarantine due to home exposures
  • The Behavioral Health Hospital has one COVID-positive patient
  • Lower Campus Residential: One resident of the Johnson Apartments is quarantining due to exposure. COVID test results are pending

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports COVID-positive 13 clients on service and one staff member out

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • One Masonicare at Mystic independent living resident will come off quarantine this weekend

12/9/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Since the start of this pandemic, Masonicare has been steadfast in following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Public Health (DPH). Taking steps to ensure the safety of our residents, patients, and coworkers has always been our top priority, and will continue to be so.

If the CDC states that boosters of the COVID vaccine are needed to extend protection from the virus for eligible individuals, and can provide data to back up that recommendation, then we’re going to follow the science and adjust our policies accordingly.

It’s from that perspective that we announced this week that COVID boosters will be mandatory for all eligible employees, with a deadline of January 31, 2022.

Just today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer booster for 16 and 17-year-olds. More information can be found here.

I’m pleased that a significant portion of our workforce has already received a booster. For those who still need one, we have scheduled clinics this month with more dates in January to be announced.

While no COVID vaccine can offer 100% protection, getting a full series (plus booster!) is the best way to avoid serious illness.

CELEBRATE SAFELY
We know the holiday season is important to you and your loved ones. It’s also important for all of us to protect our health. The CDC website has some great tips on how to navigate holiday gatherings safely.

COVID TESTING
We know that wait times at COVID testing sites in the community have been longer than usual since after Thanksgiving. As a reminder, there is a PCR testing site on the Wallingford Campus through Yale New Haven Health. Additionally, self-test (or over-the-counter) kits are an option to help make informed decisions about isolation and quarantine. More information can be found here.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center (skilled nursing) has one COVID-positive employee out and two others out due to exposure at home.
  • The Behavioral Health Hospital had one patient test positive this week. The entire unit is on quarantine until 12/18. One employee is out due to exposure from a family member, but is due to return to work tomorrow.
  • Lower Campus Residential: The Wright Building has one COVID-positive employee out and one resident on quarantine due to possible exposure at an off-site rehab facility.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports eight COVID-positive patients on service and four staff members out.
  • One Masonicare at Home employee is out after testing positive for COVID.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • An independent living resident at Masonicare at Mystic tested positive for COVID following exposure at an off-site event. The resident is in quarantine. One staff member who is out due to exposure is due to return this weekend.

VIDEO UPDATE
Omicron and the holiday season: how can we best protect each other while celebrating this year? In this week’s video update, I discuss that topic with Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, and Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services. They provide the latest information on the COVID-19 Omicron variant and discuss mandatory booster shots for all employee team members. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 12/9/2021:
 


12/2/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

A few items in the news that you should be aware of:

The omicron COVID variant. The variant is different from others we’ve seen so far and appears to be more infectious. It’s still too early to tell whether omicron will be more deadly or mild than the delta variant. The first confirmed case of it was reported in California this week and we should expect that it will eventually show up in Connecticut.

Positivity rate on the rise, but fewer cases. Connecticut’s COVID-19 test positive rate climbed to nearly 6%, according to the governor’s office. That’s the highest it’s been in nearly a year. While that is cause for some concern, please remember that we have far fewer cases now than we did a year ago. Last month, we had about 19,000 confirmed cases in Connecticut, compared with over 46,000 in November 2020. That’s 59% fewer cases – a sign that vaccinations are working.

Watching for the “holiday spike.” There’s almost always an uptick in cases a week or two following any major holiday in which people gather in large groups. Thanksgiving was a week ago. If you notice any signs or symptoms, please DO NOT report to work and contact your supervisor immediately.

COVID BOOSTER CLINICS

If it’s been more than six months since you were vaccinated for COVID-19, you’re due for a booster. Per the CDC, this applies to EVERYONE over the age of 18.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

Masonicare Health Center has four employees out: one who tested positive for COVID, one out with symptoms (test results pending), and two out due to exposure at home.
Lower Campus Residential: One Wright employee is still out on quarantine due to exposure at home.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports six COVID-positive patients on service and three staff members out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

One independent living employee at Masonicare at Ashlar Village remains out after testing positive for COVID.


11/24/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

MORE COVID TREATMENTS ON THE WAY? 

Another weapon in the war against COVID will be treatments for people in the earlier stages of the disease. Two new antiviral drugs could soon be the first effective oral treatments for COVID to help keep people out of the hospital. 

An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to review the data supporting a pill from Merck called molnupiravir on November 30. 

And earlier this month, Pfizer released preliminary results for its antiviral pill, Paxlovid, and formally requested emergency use authorization of the drug from the FDA. 

If these drugs get authorized in the coming weeks, they could be an important new treatment option for people with COVID-19, especially for those at high risk in the early stages of infection. The ability to treat COVID-19 with a pill rather than an injection or infusion means more people can be treated faster. 

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center has one confirmed COVID-positive employee, one out with symptoms (test results pending) and two others out due to exposure with COVID-positive family members. 

  • Lower Campus Residential: One Wright employee is out on quarantine due to exposure to a COVID-positive family member. Test result is pending. 

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports seven patients on service and two staff members out. 

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Masonicare at Ashlar Village reports one COVID-positive staff member. 


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 11/24/2021:
 


11/18/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Recent nursing home COVID outbreaks in Connecticut and elsewhere reinforce the importance of vaccine boosters. The strong message from the Department of Public Health is that boosters should be given to residents and staff as soon as possible. I’m happy to say that Masonicare is already making this a priority.

We hosted vaccine booster clinics in November and will hold more in December. There are upcoming clinics in the Wallingford and Mystic areas during which staff can receive their COVID-19 booster doses of any of the three vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J.

CDC information about COVID vaccines can be found here: https://bit.ly/3Go4k5B.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • At Masonicare Health Center, one employee is out after testing positive for COVID. Three employees are out with COVID-like symptoms (tests are pending) and three others are out on quarantine due to home/community exposure.
  • Visitation guidelines have been updated. Guidance allows visitation for all residents at all times, but while adhering to the core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention. There are also changes to the use of face masks and social distancing, especially when a county is at high or substantial level of community transmission. Those changes will be communicated to MHC staff, residents, and families.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • No updates to report.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No updates to report. ​​​​​

11/11/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

COVID AND THE HOLIDAYS

We’re seeing a slight uptick in the COVID-19 positivity rate in Connecticut – not surprising, with the weather changing and people spending more time indoors. We saw this last year at this time, too. The big difference between then and now, of course, is that many of us are vaccinated.

As a result, experts are predicting that we’ll see “mini spikes” following Thanksgiving and Christmas. There will be breakthrough cases. So when we talk about holiday precautions and what people should and shouldn’t do to prevent the spread of the virus, our advice is to be careful. Know your circumstances and the settings you’ll be in, especially if you plan to travel. Even if you’re vaccinated, it may not be the best idea to be around unvaccinated individuals indoors for an extended period of time.

Please continue to use good judgement to protect yourself and those we serve.

ANTIBODY DRUG SHOWS PROMISE

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is reporting that one dose of its REGEN-COV antibody drug lowered the risk of contracting COVID-19 by about 81% for up to eight months in a late-stage trial. The drug is currently authorized in the United States to treat people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and for prevention of infection in those exposed to infected individuals, and others at high risk of exposure in places like long-term care communities.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Five Masonicare Health Center employees are currently out with symptoms (COVID tests pending). Four employees are out due to home or community exposure. One resident is on quarantine due to an exposure from a family member who visited.

HOME AND COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports four COVID-positive patients on service and one employee out.
  • One employee at our external ALSA site, Smithfield Gardens, is out with symptoms.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No updates to report.

11/4/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

As expected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved the use of a low-dose COVID vaccine by Pfizer for children ages 5 through 11. This expands vaccine eligibility to about 28 million children in the United States.

The Pfizer pediatric vaccine is one-third the adult dose and, like the adult formulation, is given in two doses, three weeks apart. The drug manufacturer said the lower dose was chosen to minimize possible side effects but still produce strong immunity.

We know that community health centers, pharmacies, and other providers will offer the vaccine to children. Some school districts have also scheduled vaccination drives in coming weeks, before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Based on what we have learned about COVID over the last 19 months, and following thorough vaccine review by the FDA and CDC, we encourage our employees with children in this age group to consider having them vaccinated.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • One Masonicare Health Center employee is out after testing positive for COVID. Five other employees are out due to pending COVID tests or home/community exposure. One resident is on quarantine due to an exposure from a family member who visited.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports three COVID-positive patients on service and one employee out pending a COVID test.
  • Our external assisted living community, Smithfield Gardens, has one employee out with symptoms awaiting a second negative test result.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Masonicare at Mystic reports that a hospitalized assisted living resident has tested positive for COVID.

VIDEO UPDATE

Which COVID booster shot is best for you? Can you receive a booster and the regular flu shot at the same time? Get the latest information from Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, and Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services for Masonicare. Plus, JP Venoit, Masonicare President & CEO, talks about the continued need for everyone to work together to stay safe and healthy during the upcoming holiday season. You can watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 11/3/2021:

 


10/29/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

This week, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the agency issue an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 years old. Pfizer’s data shows their vaccine is safe and 90.7% effective in preventing COVID infections in that age group, which have accounted for about 9% of all reported COVID cases in the U.S., or 40% of all pediatric COVID cases.

If the FDA authorizes the vaccine for these younger children, which is likely, it will move on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It’s been reported that a dose of Pfizer for young children contains one-third the amount of active ingredient compared to the adult dose. It is given in two doses, at least three weeks apart.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

Masonicare Health Center reports no COVID-positive residents or staff. Two employees are out due to exposures at home and two others are out with symptoms (tests pending).
HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports one COVID-positive patient on service.
RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

Two assisted living employees at Ashlar Village are out after testing positive for COVID.

10/22/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Great news to share: overnight, the CDC approved the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID boosters for people 65 and older and for high-risk workers (which includes our employees). This means that the booster clinics we scheduled with our pharmacy partners – which, to date, have only offered Pfizer – might now include the other vaccines for those who need them. We will be sure to let you know.

The other big news from regulators is that anyone eligible for an extra dose can choose to get a brand different from the one they received initially. This is important because it greatly expands the number of Americans eligible for boosters and formally allows “mixing and matching” of shots. It also makes it simpler to get another dose, especially for people who had a side effect from one brand but still want the proven protection of vaccination.

We know that protection offered by the initial vaccine series – whether that’s from Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J – does diminish over time, so getting a booster shot is important for continued protection against COVID-19.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center reports no COVID-positive residents and staff. Five employees are currently out with symptoms (test results pending), and one other is out on quarantine due to a home exposure, but due to return this weekend. One resident and a roommate are on precautions due to a family exposure.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports two COVID-positive patients on service and one employee out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • One assisted living employee at Ashlar Village is out after testing positive for COVID.

VIDEO UPDATE

Are more COVID-19 booster shots on the way? Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services for Masonicare, gives us the latest information. And Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services, provides an update on vaccine clinics for our residents, patients and employee team members. You can watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 10/20/2021:
 


10/15/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

There’s a part of me that is reluctant to mention that Connecticut’s COVID positivity rate is among the lowest in the country thanks to our vaccination rate – 70% (tied for the highest with Vermont) – because I know that conditions can change quickly, and probably will in the near future as we come up on the holiday season and more gatherings move indoors. 

I’m pleased that when we announce booster clinics for the Pfizer vaccine, slots fill up quickly. We estimate that at least 130 employees have received a booster so far. 

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is meeting today and tomorrow to deliberate on boosters for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients. We are looking forward to learning the outcomes of these meetings as we continue to plan for our COVID booster clinics through our pharmacy partners. 

COMING SOON: VACCINES FOR KIDS 

The White House is telling states to get ready to vaccinate children ages 5-11 by early next month when it is expected that Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for that age group will be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, the U.S. government has 

already purchased 65 million doses – enough to vaccinate the estimated 28 million children who would be eligible after FDA approval. 

Children in this age group will not get the same vaccine dosage that adults have been receiving. If you’re interested in reading more about the clinical trials for children, there is information on Pfizer’s website

HEALTHCARE SERVICES 

  • Masonicare Health Center reports no COVID-positive residents and staff. Three employees are out on quarantine due to exposures in the community and two others are out pending tests due to symptoms. One resident is on quarantine due to possible exposure. 

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES 

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports two COVID-positive patients on service and two employees out. 

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES 

  • Two Masonicare at Ashlar Village employees are out on quarantine due to exposure to COVID-positive family members. 

COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 10/6/2021:
 


10/8/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Response so far to COVID booster clinics with Masonicare’s pharmacy partners has been strong. Hundreds of staff and residents have already received a dose of the Pfizer booster, with more to come in the weeks ahead. We will continue to promote upcoming clinics by location via email and text.

Again, you don’t need to wait for a Masonicare-run clinic to get your Pfizer booster. Retail pharmacy locations in the community like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and elsewhere have the Pfizer vaccine and will administer it to eligible individuals.

And here’s extra incentive to get your Pfizer COVID booster: A study published this week in The Lancet medical journal found that protection offered by the Pfizer vaccine fell below 50 percent about six months after the second dose. Researchers said the declining immunity had to do with the amount of time since a person received the second shot, not due to more infectious strains of the virus.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON AND MODERNA BOOSTER UPDATES

 Johnson & Johnson is requesting FDA authorization of a booster dose of its COVID vaccine. J&J reports that providing a booster six months after the first dose significantly increases infection-fighting antibodies. The FDA’s advisory panel will meet October 15 to review the evidence and recommend whether the agency should move forward on a J&J booster. Also, Bloomberg reported that the FDA is leaning toward authorizing Moderna’s half-dose booster shots for those who received Moderna’s initial two-shot series.

ANTIVIRAL PILL IN TESTING

While drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna are still looking to increase access to their COVID vaccines, Merck is developing an experimental oral antiviral drug called molnupiravir that would be given to people already infected with the virus. Merck claims the drug cuts the risk of death or hospitalization from COVID-19 in half. No data has been published yet, though. Merck says it will seek authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If granted, the drug could be the first antiviral treatment available orally to fight COVID-19.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center reports that six employees are out pending COVID tests because they are symptomatic or have a symptomatic family member. One employee is out on quarantine due to exposure.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports two COVID-positive patients on service and one employee out.

9/30/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Working with our pharmacy partners, Masonicare will hold COVID-19 vaccine booster clinics at multiple locations in October. These will be for individuals who already completed the primary two-dose series of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six (6) months ago. Some clinics will be employee-specific and require you to sign up in advance. At other clinics, we’re going to prioritize our residents. To make sure no doses are wasted at those clinics, we will again create standby lists to notify employees when/if extra doses are available.

Again, booster doses are NOT mandatory for staff at this time, though they may be in the future. And if the days and times of the booster clinics we will advertise aren’t convenient for you, remember that the Pfizer vaccine is available at retail pharmacy locations such as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and elsewhere.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH DELTA?

New COVID cases in the U.S. fell by 25% over the past two weeks, which some are taking as a sign that the Delta variant may have peaked and the worst may be behind us.

An Axios report said the U.S. is averaging about 114,000 new COVID cases per day – still a lot, but an improvement from this summer when the Delta variant was linked to a new wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths (deaths are the last number to increase when a new wave hits, but also the last number to decrease when a wave subsides).

If the decline in cases continues, the reports states, deaths linked to COVID should begin to come down soon.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center reports no COVID-positive residents or staff.

HOME AND COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports two COVID-positive patients on service and two employees out.
  • A Masonicare at Home employee is on precautionary quarantine following exposure to a COVID-positive family member.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • One Masonicare at Chester Village employee has tested positive for COVID. Three residents are on quarantine due to possible exposure to that employee. Test results are pending.
  • A Masonicare at Mystic employee tested positive for COVID last week and remains out on quarantine.

9/23/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

There was A LOT in the news this week about COVID, from vaccines to new variants. Here are the highlights:

  • The FDA granted emergency use authorization for a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine in people 65 and older, people at high risk of severe disease, and people whose jobs put them at risk of infection. That will include most of our residents and – we expect – many of our employees. More information about Masonicare’s COVID booster clinics will be coming soon!
  • Pfizer announced that early data about the safety and effectiveness of its COVID vaccine on kids age 5-11, delivered in a lower dose, shows it provides a similar level of protection as the higher dose given to adults. No word yet on when children under 12 will be cleared to receive the vaccine.
  • Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures a single-dose COVID vaccine, says that when a person receives a booster shot two months after getting the initial dose, protection against the virus increased to 94%. More study is needed and J&J has NOT yet been cleared to offer boosters.
  • Governor Lamont is asking the State Legislature to extend his COVID-related emergency powers to February 2022 (they are supposed to expire at the end of this month). These powers have allowed the Governor to issue emergency orders for things like requiring face masks in certain settings, implementing mandates for vaccines, etc.
  •  Another vaccine-resistant COVID variant has been detected in 47 states (but, so far, infecting fewer than 11,000 people globally). This one, called “R.1,” recently tore through a Kentucky nursing home.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center reports no COVID-positive residents or staff. However, a Corporate Services employee based at MHC did recently test positive and is out on quarantine.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports four COVID-positive patients on service and one employee out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • One assisted living employee at Ashlar Village is out due to non-work related exposure.
  • Two employees at our external assisted living community Virginia Connolly Residence, one of whom also works at Welles Country Village, are out.

VIDEO UPDATE

Who is eligible for COVID-19 booster shots and when will they begin? Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services for Masonicare, explains the FDA’s decision and the reasons behind it. And Sierra Drevline, Director of Employee Health Services, gives an update on vaccine clinics for our residents and eligible employees. I’ll also have a very special announcement you won’t want to miss! You can watch below.​​​​


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 9/22/2021:
 


9/16/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Last week, I mentioned how Masonicare is preparing for the possibility that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon approve a booster dose for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. This would be in addition to immunocompromised people, who’ve been authorized to get booster shots since August. I’m afraid I don’t have any updates about this for you, except that officials are scheduled to meet later this month to discuss.

And again, the CDC has stated that it will be safe for you to get your flu shot and COVID booster in the same week, or even on the same day. You can read more at the CDC website under “Coadministration of COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines,” or talk to your doctor.

KIDS AND COVID

Since many of our employees are also parents of school-age children, I want to make you aware of a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics stating that more children are getting COVID-19 than ever before. In two weeks, nearly half a million kids across the U.S. tested positive for the virus. Children here in Connecticut are part of that nationwide trend.

This underscores the need for vaccines to be approved for use in children under 12 and continued preventive measures like wearing masks at school and out in the community.

This week, the CEO of Pfizer said that new data on how well the vaccine works on young children will likely be released in late October.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center reports no COVID-positive residents or staff.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports three COVID-positive patients on service.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Two residents in the memory care community at Ashlar Village remain on isolation precautions and one is currently hospitalized.
  • An employee of our external assisted living communities Welles Country Village and Virginia Connolly Residence is out after testing positive for COVID.

9/9/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Along with flu vaccine clinics that will be announced soon, Masonicare is working with our pharmacy partners to offer COVID vaccine boosters to residents and employees. There is evidence that COVID boosters offer significant protection from the virus for those who have already received the initial one or two-dose series.

The plan originally announced by the White House was to offer Pfizer and Moderna boosters to Americans eight months after their second dose, beginning September 20. But since then, Moderna has requested that its booster be half the dose of the original shots, and the FDA has said it needs more data from Moderna before deciding. Johnson & Johnson also needs to submit an application to the FDA for a booster dose.

The FDA and CDC advisers are scheduled to meet next week to approve a third dose of Pfizer, but even then, only certain people may be recommended to get another shot for now. Nursing home residents, front-line healthcare workers, and older adults who have the highest risk of severe disease will likely have priority.

And some good news in time for flu season: according to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines may now be administered without regard to the timing of other vaccines. That means that if it’s convenient for you to get your flu shot and COVID booster in the same week, or even on the same day, it is now considered safe. You can read more at the CDC website under “Coadministration of COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines,” or talk to your doctor.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center reports no COVID-positive residents or staff. HOME AND

COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports four COVID-positive patients on service and three employees out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Masonicare at Ashlar Village reports one COVID-positive independent living resident. A total of 14 residents and one staff member have tested positive for COVID in MAV’s memory care community during the most recent outbreak. All necessary precautions are being taken to limit the spread of the virus
  • Any Masonicare at Mystic employees and residents tested due to exposure were negative on their second test this week. MAM will test again Monday, Sept. 13 and suspend testing if there are no new cases.

VIDEO UPDATE

Rising COVID-19 cases, booster shots, and another new variant. We cover all of these developments, and Masonicare’s response, on this week’s Masonicare News and COVID Update. Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, brings us up to date information on impending booster shots and news about a new COVID-19 variant on the rise. You can watch below.


Masonicare News & COVID Update- 9/8/21
 


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, Jon-Paul Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 8/25/2021:
 


8/19/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

One of the big questions surrounding COVID-19 right now is “How and when do I get my booster shot?” Recent news might shed some light on that.

The Biden administration just announced a plan to make booster shots available to those who received an mRNA vaccine series (i.e., Pfizer or Moderna) beginning the week of September 20. However, that plan is pending approval by the FDA and a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. There will be much more to come about this.

That plan is separate from the CDC recommendation that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days after they completed their initial vaccine. Available data show that people with weakened immune systems – a small percentage of the population – don’t always build adequate levels of protection from the virus from just two doses. Please visit CDC.gov for more information and to see if you qualify as “moderately to severely immunocompromised.” For now, if you believe you qualify, we suggest visiting a pharmacy in the community such as CVS or Walgreens to schedule an appointment.

At this time, there is no recommendation for a third dose for immunocompromised individuals or a booster dose for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Just as we did last year when vaccines first became available, we will work closely with our contacts at LeadingAge, our pharmacy partners, and others to do what’s best for our residents, patients and employees.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • There are currently no COVID-positive residents in the skilled nursing facility. However, several are still on observation due to possible exposure. There are two employees who are out: one due to a positive test result and one due to exposure at home. There have been no positive cases reported since August 6.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has four staff out: two COVID-positive and two due to exposure. One MHHH client remains on observation at Masonicare Health Center.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • One Masonicare employee at Immanuel House and one resident have tested positive for COVID-19. The resident is on quarantine precautions and the employee was removed from the schedule until cleared to return.

  • Masonicare at Mystic reports that two employees are out on quarantine: one due to exposure at home and another who tested positive after displaying cold-like symptoms.


COVID Update with Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 8/11/2021:


8/12/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

As we know, being vaccinated for COVID-19 does not provide 100% protection from contracting and/or spreading the virus. It does, however, greatly reduce your chances of getting sick and has been extremely effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization.

I mention this because some employees have been coming to work with COVID-like symptoms, putting others at risk. Whether you are vaccinated or not, please DO NOT come to work if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • New loss of taste or smell

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your supervisor immediately, even if you think it’s “just a cold” or “seasonal allergies.” You may be asked to come to work but wait outside to take an antigen test. Based on the results of the test, you may be given additional instructions.

MANDATORY VACCINATION

Another sign that Masonicare was ahead of the curve in making vaccination mandatory for all employees: the Governor just issued an executive order stating that – barring any exemptions – all employees in long-term care settings in Connecticut (including residential care homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living communities, and managed residential communities) need to be to be vaccinated if they have direct access to patients or residents. Masonicare would be subject to significant fines for non-compliance after September 7.

This executive order will also impact contract employees working at Masonicare locations (i.e., those employed by PACT, HealthPRO, Optum, Morrison, etc.). We will need to remind our vendors that any contract employees at Masonicare Health Center and our residential communities will be subject to the same vaccination protocols as our employees. They are probably already aware of the requirement, but I am counting on our leadership team to make sure our vendors are in compliance.

HOSPITALIZATIONS INCREASING

Since the beginning of the pandemic, health officials have said hospitalizations are the number to watch to gauge where we’re at in the pandemic. The numbers in Connecticut right now are not heading in a good direction.

According to data from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, one month ago there were just 25 people hospitalized. This week, there were over 200.

The good news is that people over the age of 65 – which accounts for most of our residents and patients – make up the largest percentage of vaccinated people in the state, so fewer of them are requiring hospitalization. Over 75% of the people needing to be hospitalized are unvaccinated.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Since mid-July, Masonicare Health Center has had 21 residents in the skilled nursing facility and 10 employees test positive for COVID-19. Some have since recovered and/or returned to work. There have been no positive cases reported since August 6. One employee is out due to exposure.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has one presumed COVID-positive patient and one confirmed positive hospice patient at MHC. There are also currently three employees out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive residents or staff.

VIDEO UPDATE

Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, provides a summary of the latest information on the coronavirus Delta variant and an update about our masking policies and precautions on Masonicare properties. Watch below.


8/5/2021: UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Along with our Corporate Marketing team, I’ve been busy fielding questions from local media about our current COVID-19 outbreak at Masonicare Health Center and, more specifically, whether we believe vaccinations turned out to be effective in preventing more severe illness in those infected. The answer is a resounding YES. Even though vaccinated individuals can still contract COVID-19 – especially the more contagious Delta variant – they are far less likely to require hospitalization.

Breakthrough cases will happen, but the outcomes have generally been more manageable. We were among the first in our industry to mandate vaccinations, and I am convinced that decision saved lives. Everyone else is playing catch up.

This week, one of the largest long-term care providers in the country, Genesis HealthCare, announced that staff members and others affiliated with its chain of nursing homes and assisted living communities would need to get vaccinated for COVID-19. That will impact approximately 70,000 people.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • As of today, 20 residents at Masonicare Health Center have tested positive for COVID-19 during the current outbreak, along with eight employees. Some have since recovered and/or returned to work. The outbreak remains confined to 3 Ramage.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has one COVID-positive patient and two employees out.
  • All employees and visitors must wear surgical masks (or better) at branch offices.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive residents or staff.
  • All employees and visitors must wear surgical masks (or better) in our residential communities.

7/29/2021: BI-WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

History tells us that COVID-19 infections will pick up in fall and run through January of 2022, but we are already seeing an uptick in cases around the state. This is happening for a few different reasons, including the arrival of the highly transmittable Delta variant and changes in our own social behaviors.

Let’s face it: many of us have become lax with our mask use, social distancing, and hand hygiene. Low positivity rates lulled us into thinking the threat has passed, but the numbers say otherwise. Vaccines have helped save hundreds of thousands of lives but breakthrough cases can occur among vaccinated people. Please continue to strictly follow infection control guidelines at work and exercise caution at home and out in the community.

NEW MASK GUIDANCE FROM CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging. This is due to the Delta variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people. The CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. Masonicare will continue to monitor and adjust our mask policy as we see fit at our communities and branches.

SCIENTISTS STUDY BOOSTER SHOTS

Pfizer released data this week suggesting that a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine more than six months after vaccination can boost protection against the Delta variant beyond the protection afforded by the standard two doses. Although both the CDC and FDA both have said that boosters are not necessary at this time, we have been in touch with our pharmacy partners to discuss the possibility that boosters will eventually be recommended.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • As of today, 16 residents at Masonicare Health Center have tested positive during the current outbreak, along with eight employees.
  • 3 Ramage will be on quarantine until MHC is no longer in outbreak status and no further positive cases are identified through ongoing weekly testing.
  • N95 masks and a face shield are required of all 3 Ramage staff on the unit. In addition, gloves and gowns are required when entering a resident’s room and must be changed between every room. It is imperative that we continue to wear PPE to fight the outbreak.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has one pending COVID-positive patient expected to be admitted today and two employees out.
  • Virginia Connolly Residence, one of our external ALSA sites, reports that a visitor who had been in the building for six consecutive days tested positive for COVID-19. Residents and staff will be tested on August 2 and August 9. After contact tracing, any residents found to have been in contact with this visitor will be advised to quarantine for 14 days.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive residents or staff.

VIDEO UPDATE

In this week’s video update, I talk to Karen Garlie, Director of Hospice Clinical Services for Masonicare Hospice and Palliative Care, about the expansion of services into Rhode Island. Our hospice team members show such extraordinary dedication and compassion, particularly during this time of a pandemic that has presented extra challenges. I also give an update on our efforts to contain COVID-19 at Masonicare Health Center. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit - 7/29/2021:


7/15/2021: BI-WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Although COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death, they are not 100% effective at protecting you from contracting the virus. We were reminded of that yesterday when Masonicare Health Center announced that two vaccinated employees tested positive for COVID-19. Accordingly, visitation and employee testing guidelines have been updated (see below).

Please urge friends and loved ones who have not already been vaccinated to get a vaccine. The Associated Press reported this week that nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. now are in people who weren’t vaccinated. It’s a clear sign of how effective the shots have been and an indication that deaths per day — now down to under 300 — could be practically zero if everyone eligible received a vaccine.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • All Masonicare Health Center staff in the skilled nursing facility are required to be tested as soon as possible if they have been in the building within the last few days. Next week’s testing schedule will be posted shortly. GMPP staff are not required to test, but can choose to do so.
  • 3 Ramage will be on quarantine until MHC is no longer in outbreak status and no further positive cases are identified through ongoing testing.
  • All staff and residents are required to comply with weekly testing, regardless of vaccine status, for a minimum of two weeks. In the event of any additional positive results, weekly testing will be extended.
  • N95 masks and a face shield are required of all 3 Ramage staff on the unit. In addition, gloves and gowns are required when entering a resident’s room and must be changed between every room.

HOME AND COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES / RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive staff or patients.

VIDEO UPDATE

In this week’s video update, we hear from Rob Leake, Executive Director of Hospital Services and Director of Financial Operations, about a project underway at Masonicare Health Center to expand our behavioral health services for seniors. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, gives an update on the latest news about the COVID-19 Delta variant across our country. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 7/14/2021:
 


7/2/2021 BI-WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

June 30th was Masonicare’s vaccination deadline. Moving forward, anyone wishing to work for our organization must be vaccinated for COVID-19 unless they are granted a medical or religious exemption.

You should expect policies like this to become the industry standard. Just last week, the Connecticut Hospital Association, whose members include most of Connecticut’s acute care hospitals and dozens of other rehab facilities, nursing homes, and other healthcare organizations, endorsed mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for employees and clinical staff.

MASKING POLICY

In response to current infection and hospitalization rates in Connecticut, Masonicare announced that some changes to our masking policy would take effect today, July 1. At some locations (excluding Masonicare Health Center), vaccinated employees and independent living residents will have the option to remove their masks. Employees with a vaccination exemption and visitors at all locations will still need to be masked at all times. Your affiliate leaders will provide more information specific to your location.

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR ABOUT THE “DELTA VARIANT”

We’ve known for some time that other, more contagious strains of COVID-19 could eventually find their way to Connecticut. One that health officials are following closely is the so-called Delta variant, a more dangerous and transmissible strain that has now spread to nearly every state in the US, including Connecticut. This is raising concerns over a potential COVID-19 spike in the fall.

According to the CDC, the Delta variant now accounts for about one in every five new COVID-19 infections in the US. And with more than half of the population still not fully vaccinated, health experts and officials worry that areas with low amounts of virus protection could see surges later this year.

Even if you’re vaccinated, please continue to make smart decisions to minimize the risk to you, your loved ones, and those in our care.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center is continuing with monthly testing, per DPH guidance.

HOME AND COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive staff or patients.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive staff or residents.

VIDEO UPDATE

Have you heard about our new Short-Term Rehabilitation Center? This week we speak to Courtney Wood, Long-Term Care Administrator of Masonicare Health Center. Courtney gives us an update on the project and talks about the wonderful features we’ll be able to offer to our residents and patients. Then, we talk a little about our strategic plan for Masonicare Health Center and the renovations happening there that bring our health services to the next level. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, tells us what he’s learned about the Coronavirus Delta variant. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 7/1/2021:


6/17/2021 BI-WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines, the number of patients hospitalized in the United States has plummeted, from more than 125,000 on average in early January to just over 15,000 on average last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Connecticut, there are currently fewer than 40 individuals hospitalized.

Doctors are seeing another trend: most of the people getting so sick from the virus that they need to be hospitalized have not been vaccinated. As new variants of the virus appear, those who continue to put off vaccination are the ones who will be most at risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19.

We are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus to others, even if you don’t have symptoms. But researchers are becoming more confident that vaccination dramatically lowers someone’s chances of infecting others. Please keep that in mind for yourself and for others in your household.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE DOSES TOSSED

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered Johnson & Johnson to throw out about 60 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine because they were produced at a plant in Baltimore that had contamination issues. The good news is that doses manufactured elsewhere that were in storage and set to expire have been approved for use for an additional 90 days. That means that any doses available to you are considered safe for use.

FOURTH VACCINE ON THE WAY?

Drug company Novavax announced this week that results of a clinical trial of its two-dose COVID-19 vaccine provides strong protection against the coronavirus. The trial included almost 30,000 people in the U.S. and Mexico and was shown to be 90.4 percent effective at preventing infection – comparable to the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna (and higher than the one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson). The Novavax vaccine also showed an efficacy of 100 percent at preventing moderate or severe disease.

But Americans may not have access to the drug for a while since there are now ample supplies of other vaccines here and the need overseas is much greater. An article about Novavax in the New York Times stated that this protein-based vaccine could eventually be useful as a booster shot.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • With no positive results in the latest round of COVID testing, Masonicare Health Center is continuing with monthly testing, per the latest DPH guidance

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive staff or patients

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive staff or residents

COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit - 6/24/2021:
 


6/3/2021 BI-WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

About 136 million people in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated, and the national percentage of COVID-19 tests that came back positive over the last week was less than 3%. The current COVID-19 positivity rate in Connecticut has dropped to 1% – the lowest it’s been since early October. This is all very good news.

And after a long year of avoiding out-of-state travel, I know that many of you are looking forward to packing up the car, boarding a train, or hopping on a plane this summer to vacation or catch up with friends and loved ones.

Before you do, please just remember that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Obviously, different modes of transportation, lodging, dining, and activities during travel carry different levels of risk. Maybe you or family members are still unvaccinated. Consider these and other risks when making plans. Don’t travel if you are sick, are considered infectious after testing positive for COVID-19, or should be quarantining after exposure to a person with COVID-19.

The CDC offers some helpful tips for understanding your risks during travel. You can read it here.

JUNE VACCINE CLINICS

If you still need to be vaccinated for COVID-19, you can take advantage of the following clinics set up for Masonicare employees:

Monday, June 7, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, MHC Auditorium (single-dose Johnson & Johnson). Register: https://signup.com/go/poRQOcF

Tuesday, June 15, 9:00-10:00 AM, Masonicare at Mystic (single-dose Johnson & Johnson). Register: https://signup.com/go/JrnjZoT

Tuesday, June 15, 1:00–2:00 PM, Ashlar Village (single-dose Johnson & Johnson and dose 2 of Moderna). Register: https://signup.com/go/aeLNEst

If you plan to seek a religious or medical exemption, your paperwork must be turned in by June 15.

 HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • With no positive results in the latest round of COVID testing, Masonicare Health Center will now move to monthly testing, per the latest DPH guidance.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive staff or patients.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No COVID-positive staff or residents.

Progress in our fight against the COVID-19 virus has reached the point where I am pleased to say I will be moving from weekly to bi-weekly updates. Thank you!

6/9/2021 Updates:

-A recent VA study found nearly 20 times the rate of COVID-19 infection in unvaccinated healthcare staff, along with evidence that transmission clusters were linked to those workers. The results mirror recent nursing home studies that have found similar evidence to support COVID-19 vaccination. You can read the full article here: https://bit.ly/2Slp61z.

-A reminder that if you remain unvaccinated and plan to seek a religious or medical exemption, the deadline to submit your paperwork is Tuesday, June 15. Barring an exemption, all employees must be vaccinated by June 30.

-A Wright resident has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual is fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. Everyone who had close contact with this resident is isolating as a precaution, though all have been antigen tested and results were negative.  Due to the low risk of exposure, the high vaccination rate, and excellent compliance with our masking policy, Wright will continue operations for those not determined to have had an exposure. Dining, groups, community trips, and visitation will continue.

VIDEO UPDATE

This week we speak to Robert Polito, he is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Masonicare. Robert shares his reflections about the incredible work our entire employee team has done during this pandemic to keep our patients and residents safe, and gives his thanks for everyone’s dedication to Masonicare’s mission. JP Venoit expresses his gratefulness to our volunteer board members and all our employees for their continued commitment. He reminds us to stay vigilant in our safety practices as we participate in summer activities. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, tells us what he’s learned about whether vaccine boosters will be needed and how soon – watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit, and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 6/9/2021:
 


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit, and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 6/3/2021:


5/28/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

As more people get vaccinated for COVID-19 and with infections, hospitalizations, and deaths resulting from the virus all on the decline, the Connecticut Department of Public Health just announced that weekly testing requirements for staff of nursing homes and assisted living/managed residential care facilities will change effective June 1. 

At Masonicare Health Center, the frequency of routine testing of unvaccinated staff will be based on the positivity rate in our area (at present, this means monthly). In the assisted living settings, we will not be required to perform routine testing of unvaccinated staff, although we reserve the right to test unvaccinated memory care staff monthly, too. Testing will continue for symptomatic individuals or individuals who have had a significant exposure as well as in outbreak situations. 

A majority of our employees have been vaccinated for COVID-19. There’s only about a month left until Masonicare’s mandatory vaccination policy goes into effect. It’s our expectation that anyone who remains unvaccinated by June 30 and hasn’t already provided a medical or religious exemption will not be able to work. Managers have been reaching out to staff to remind them of this policy. 

Over the last six months, we’ve shared as much information as we can about vaccine safety and effectiveness and why, as a healthcare provider, we consider vaccination so important. 

There are several more vaccine clinics at Masonicare, including today (May 28) at Ashlar Village, June 7 at Masonicare Health Center, and June 15 at Masonicare at Mystic and Ashlar Village. Please watch for reminders via text and email. 

PRACTICING SELF-CARE 
We’re approaching the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, and I want to make sure that our staff and their loved ones are getting the emotional support they need. While COVID-19 infections rage on in India and Brazil, case numbers here and other parts of the world are dropping and restrictions are lifting. Still, many people are feeling lingering psychological effects from what has been a collective traumatic experience. 

Our Benefits team reminds employees that free, confidential help is available, day or night, 365 days a year by calling Arena Resources for Living.
 
HEALTHCARE SERVICES 

  • Masonicare Health Center is reopening for visitation. Staff, residents, and families will be provided with a full set of guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety. 

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES 

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports no current COVID-positive staff or clients. 

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES 

  • No staff/resident cases reported. Reopening plans continue. 

VIDEO UPDATE 
On all of our campuses, there’s a wonderful rejuvenation that’s taking place as residents and staff are beginning to congregate safely. In this week’s video, we speak to Rachael Laudano, Senior Director of ALSA Partnerships (just promoted to Associate Executive Director of Assisted Living at Masonicare at Ashlar Village) about how the reopening process has been going for our assisted living residents and their families. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, gives a status update on the number of people vaccinated across the country and where COVID cases stand at this point. You can watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit, and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 5/26/21:


5/21/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Connecticut’s new COVID-19 protocols went into effect Wednesday, and it breaks down the recommendations for those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated. These new guidelines are in response to new guidance from the CDC and what we’ve learned so far about COVID-19 vaccines: that if you’re vaccinated, you are less likely to experience serious symptoms and less likely to become infected or transmit the virus, even if exposed.

The Governor announced that mask rules have been relaxed, and you may start to notice that some businesses are no longer requiring masks for entry.

But there are still some situations where you will be required to wear a mask, whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated. These include health care and assisted living facilities. Nursing homes, too, will need to continue to follow government guidelines for mask use.

What does all this mean for Masonicare?

  • Masks are still required.
  • We are looking at shortening the daily screening process.
  • Provided there are no outbreaks, weekly testing at Masonicare Health Center and our residential communities continues for unvaccinated employees. This may change in the near future.
  • To help get as many of our employees vaccinated as possible before June 30, we have scheduled multiple vaccine clinics with our pharmacy partners offering all three COVID-19 vaccines currently available.

If none of the clinic times or locations we’ve scheduled are convenient for you, you can schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine in the community at ct.gov/covidvaccine. A list of walk-up clinics that do not require appointments in advance can be found at ct.gov/covidvaccine/walkup. If you have further questions or do not have access to the internet, you can call Connecticut’s COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • A Masonicare Health Center resident who recently traveled out of state tested positive for COVID-19 this week. The resident is in quarantine, as well as their unit. Family visits elsewhere in the building can continue. Testing of all staff will need to continue for at least the next two weeks.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • A Masonicare at Home employee has tested positive for COVID-19 and is asymptomatic. This employee has clients in both independent living and assisted living at Ashlar Village. Contact tracing and antigen testing are underway. Outbreak testing for all MAV employees applies for the next two weeks.
  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice continues to work to facilitate COVID-19 vaccinations for homebound clients.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • A Chester Village resident who recently spent time at a rehab facility had a roommate there who tested positive for COVID-19. The resident is quarantining now and the rest of that community is testing today.
  • Wallingford Lower Campus Residential: The Wright Building’s reopening plans should resume May 25.

VIDEO UPDATE

This week, we speak to Kimberly Magalhaes, Director of Masonicare at Home and the Interim Executive Director of Masonicare at Ashlar Village. Kim gives us an

update on the reopening process and the “vibe” of the residents and clients we serve. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, breaks down the CDC’s new guidance on masks for fully vaccinated people and what it really means. You can watch it below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit, and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 5/20/21:


5/13/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Good news for parents of ‘tweens' and teens: yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 12 to 15. The dose used to immunize adults has been found in clinical trials to be safe and effective for these adolescents. While children’s risk of severe illness is low compared with that of adults, the virus has infected more than 1.5 million children and sent more than 13,000 to hospitals. We are seeing that teens – especially high schoolers – may transmit the virus as readily as adults.

Pfizer states that apart from a slight increase in the frequency of fevers, the shots also seemed to have comparable, mostly negligible side effects for this age group. Of course, if you have any questions or concerns about whether your child should get vaccinated, please talk to your pediatrician.

There are several options for Connecticut residents to get themselves (or their kids) vaccinated. Search for a vaccine site or walk-up vaccine clinic at portal.ct.gov or call the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224.

UPCOMING VACCINE CLINIC

Masonicare’s June 30th vaccination deadline for staff is seven weeks away. Throughout May, we will continue to push out reminders about upcoming vaccine clinics which are open to ALL staff.

There are still spots available for the next COVID-19 vaccine clinic coming up on Tuesday, May 18 at Ashlar Village, 12:00-1:00 PM. This clinic will be offering first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine. Please click here to register: https://signup.com/go/AsyiFqj.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Provided that all swabs from this weekend come back negative, Masonicare Health Center should be able to resume visitations next week.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has two COVID-positive patients on service.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Lower Campus Residential: A fully vaccinated resident of the Wright Building tested positive for COVID-19. This resident is now on quarantine. Two other residents are on quarantine due to exposure, one from a COVID-positive, non-Masonicare caregiver.

VIDEO UPDATE

This week, I chat with Jennifer King, Executive Director of The Masonic Charity Foundation of Connecticut (Masonicare’s fundraising affiliate). She tells us about the wonderful ways the Masonicare Annual Appeal has supported residents, particularly during the pandemic. Programs funded by the Annual Appeal mean so much to those we serve. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director of Continuum Health Services, gives an overview of the current COVID-19 variants and explains why being aware of them is so important in our fight against the Coronavirus - watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit, and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 5/12/21:


5/6/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

There are MANY spots available for the clinic coming up on May 11 at Ashlar Village, 12:45-1:30 PM. This clinic is for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Please click here to register: https://signup.com/go/hdgXnGK.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • A physician who was in Masonicare Health Center yesterday has tested positive for COVID-19. As result, the facility will need to continue testing all residents and staff for at least the next two weeks.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has three COVID-positive patients on service and one employee out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Due to recent positive test results at Smithfield Gardens and Welles Country Village, weekly staff and resident testing will continue at these external ALSA sites.

VIDEO UPDATE

We’re kicking off National Nurses Week with special guest Tammy Nadeau, a Staff Development Nurse at Masonicare Health Center who works on 3 Ramage, one of our dementia units. During the pandemic, Tammy volunteered twice to care for residents and patients in our COVID isolation unit. I’m grateful to Tammy for her dedication and bravery, and for all the compassionate nurses we are blessed to have at Masonicare. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, gives us an update on an oral drug Pfizer is developing to treat COVID-19 symptoms. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit, and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 5/5/21:
 


4/30/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Masonicare has not only followed the latest infection control guidance and recommendations from the CDC and DPH, we’ve often gone above and beyond those guidelines. When it comes to the safety and well-being of those we’re entrusted to serve, we can’t afford to do the bare minimum. I will always err on the side of caution and I’ve directed our leadership team to do the same.

This week, in response to ongoing COVID-19 vaccinations and declining infection rates across the country, the CDC put out updated guidance covering a wide range of topics. To summarize, the CDC is recommending some changes that we’re just not ready to implement yet. In our judgment, the virus continues to pose too significant a threat for Masonicare to change or speed up our reopening plans.

Masonicare Health Center, Chester Village, and two of our external ALSAs just announced positive COVID-19 test results. All five of those individuals were fully vaccinated and they still contracted the virus. It’s a reminder that vaccines are saving lives but they do not offer 100% protection. 

  • Please continue to practice healthy habits to slow the spread … even if you’re vaccinated
  • Answer every screening question honestly, every day
  • Follow your affiliate’s testing guidelines
  • Confused about any of our infection control policies? Ask your supervisor!

Conditions are changing rapidly, so communication is key.

VACCINE CLINICS AT ASHLAR VILLAGE & MYSTIC

We have added an additional vaccine clinic in May. These clinics are open to ALL staff. Please see below for times, locations, vaccine type, doses given, and signup info:

Can’t make any of these times? Walk-up clinics are now available in Connecticut: https://portal.ct.gov/vaccine-portal/COVID-19-Vaccination-Walkup

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • One Masonicare Health Center employee has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Weekly testing of all residents and surveillance testing for staff will continue.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has three COVID-positive patients on service and two employees out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • One Welles Country Village employee and one resident have tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, one resident at Smithfield Gardens tested positive at an area hospital.
  • A private duty aide at Chester Village has tested positive. The aide’s client is on quarantine and awaiting PCR test results.
  • One Pond Ridge employee remains out on quarantine after testing positive.

VIDEO UPDATE

This week, we speak to Andrea Matthews, Director of Quality and Specialty Services for Masonicare Home Health & Hospice. Andrea helps lead a team of dedicated home care nurses who have cared for hundreds of COVID-positive patients. Andrea reflects back on the challenges of this experience and the great teamwork exhibited by our staff. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, explains more about the blood clotting condition that is being investigated for possible ties to all COVID-19 vaccines, not just Johnson & Johnson. Please watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit, and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 4/28/21:
 


4/22/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Citing continued improvements in COVID-19 vaccination rates, Gov. Ned Lamont announced this week that all restrictions for Connecticut businesses will be phased out by May 19. These restrictions will include capacity limits and social distancing rules for businesses such as large event venues, bars, and nightclubs.

This will have no direct impact on reopening plans at Masonicare, which are progressing nicely. But it does raise concerns that people will lower their guard and put themselves and others at greater risk of infection when they’re out in public.

We’ll only avoid a “fourth wave” of the virus if everyone does their part. Please continue to be diligent about mask use, avoiding crowds, and following regular testing/screening policies.

VACCINE CLINICS AT MAV, MAM

We are making good progress toward getting all employees vaccinated by the June 30 deadline, which is now just ten weeks away. If you still need to be vaccinated, we have scheduled four clinics at Ashlar Village and Masonicare at Mystic in May. These clinics are offering first and/or second doses of Pfizer and are open to ALL staff:

  • Ashlar Village (Dose 1 and 2 of Pfizer), May 7, 9:45-10:45 AM
  • Ashlar Village (Dose 2 of Pfizer), May 28, 9:45-10:45 AM
  • Masonicare at Mystic (Dose 1 and 2 of Pfizer), May 4, 3:00-3:30 PM
  • Masonicare at Mystic (Dose 2 of Pfizer), May 25, 3:00-3:30 PM

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • The GMPP unit at Masonicare Health Center has one COVID-positive patient.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has one COVID-positive patient on service and one employee out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • An assisted living employee at Ashlar Village has tested positive for COVID-19. Although there has been no close contact exposure identified, all memory care residents will be tested Friday as a precaution and indoor visitation has been suspended for one week or until no new positives arise.

VIDEO UPDATE

This week, we speak to Ann Collette, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development for Masonicare. In her role, Ann has spearheaded communications with our external audiences during this pandemic, including the media. Ann reflects upon how she and her team approached this. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, provides an update on the “pause” that was placed on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week. Watch below.


COVID Update with Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit, and Dr. Ronald Schwartz - 4/21/21
 


4/15/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint statement recommending a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following six reported cases of a rare blood-clotting event. Although these reactions are rare, and no issues have been reported by the roughly 100,000 people who have received the J&J vaccine here in Connecticut, the Department of Public Health also recommended that COVID vaccine providers pause on the administration of the J&J vaccine for the time being while the FDA and CDC complete their review.

This announcement impacted a vaccine clinic at Masonicare at Mystic on Tuesday, where some of our employees were expecting to have access to the J&J vaccine.

I take this as a sign that the FDA, the CDC, and DPH all take vaccine safety very seriously. Even though reports of complications are extremely rare, they still want to await the results of the investigation before recommending further use of the J&J vaccine. I support that approach because it’s important that we build public trust in vaccines. Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert, said the review will likely take days or weeks, but probably not months.

At this time, we do not expect this to have any impact on Masonicare’s vaccination deadline of June 30. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still the most common ones in use.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • At Masonicare Health Center, one employee is out on precautionary quarantine due to community exposure.
  • GMPP reports one COVID-positive patient.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has one COVID-positive patient on service and three employees out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • One Chester Village resident is on quarantine due to exposure to a COVID-positive PDA (non-Masonicare).

VIDEO UPDATE

Hope Ouelette, Manager of Education and Infection Prevention at Masonicare Health Center, is our guest on this week’s video. In December, when we began vaccinations for our residents and employee team members, Hope was asked to be the first Masonicare employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. She talks about the significance of that moment, both personally and professionally. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, provides information about the increase in cases of what’s being called “the UK variant” of COVID-19, particularly amongst younger people, and stresses how critical it is for us all to continue to make careful decisions when it comes to our social activities. You can watch below.


4/14/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


4/8/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Our reopening process continues at Masonicare Health Center and all of our residential communities. At MHC, residents are starting to venture out to the courtyard and take part in activities. Lauren Dubuque, Executive Director at Masonicare Mystic, described for me the scene yesterday as communal dining returned. “We had staff who were almost in tears seeing residents again,” she said. “It was awesome.”

You can help keep this process moving in the right direction by following your affiliate’s policies regarding daily screening, weekly testing, and PPE use, and getting a COVID-19 vaccine if you still need it.

In general, the best vaccine resource continues to be the state’s vaccine portal (https://portal.ct.gov/vaccine-portal), which should be able to show you which vaccines are available in which locations. As a reminder, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved for emergency use for those 16 and up, whereas the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been approved for emergency use for those 18 and up.

So far, about a quarter of all Connecticut residents are fully vaccinated. Nationally, 171 million doses of vaccine have been administered and over 64 million Americans are now fully vaccinated.

The deadline for all Masonicare employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 is June 30. If you plan to request an exemption from getting vaccinated for medical or religious reasons, please see your supervisor or HR representative who can provide you with the correct forms. Exemption paperwork must be submitted no later than June 15.

 HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • At Masonicare Health Center, one asymptomatic patient will remain in quarantine until at least Wednesday. No staff are COVID-positive at this time.
  • GMPP has one COVID-positive resident as well as one staff member out.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has two COVID-positive patients on service and four employees out.
  • MHHH is working with local health departments to secure vaccinations for homebound patients on service.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • A vaccine clinic to be held tomorrow (Friday) at Ashlar Village is completely booked. There will be another clinic in Mystic on Tuesday, April 13. To sign up for that one, you will need to register by Friday at noon: https://signup.com/go/cNmtLPe.
  • Lower Campus Residential: The outbreak period has resolved without further incidents. The Wright Dining room has reopened.

VIDEO UPDATE

This week we speak to Pat McCoy, our Manager of Materials Management. Pat and his team have led the way in securing PPE for the entire Masonicare continuum throughout the pandemic. He shares his experiences and reflections of the past year. I’m grateful to Pat for his leadership and commitment to helping our team members and residents stay safe. And Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, addresses recent reports of a new “double mutant” COVID variant and explains what that means. Please watch below.

Thank you all. Be safe!


4/7/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz
 


4/1/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

At 12:01 AM this morning, all Connecticut residents age 16 and older became eligible to register for the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s estimated that between 700,000 and 750,000 more people will now try to sign up.

Where does that leave our employees who remain unvaccinated but are not planning to apply for a religious or medical exemption between now and June 30? You have several options.

Our Director of Employee Health Services, Sierra Drevline, is working with our pharmacy partners to schedule more clinics under the Operation Matchmaker Program. These will be to provide second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to those who still need them or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We’ve already announced clinics at Ashlar Village and Masonicare Health Center, with more to come. If you intend to get vaccinated before our June 30 deadline, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Please note that these clinics are for employees only – family members are not eligible.

Your other option is to get in line with everyone else now eligible to get vaccinated. Here, again, is a list of ways you can register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the community:

  • Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at (877) 918-2224. They are open 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, seven days a week.
  • The CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) and The Connecticut Department of Public Health CT VAMS portal. Or call 211.
  • Visit the Hartford HealthCare website, or call 860- 827-7690.
  • Visit the UConn Health website or call 860-679-5589 (choose Option 2). The Program’s general line is 860-679-8888 for general questions or vaccine issues. NOTE: Appointment availability will be limited.
  • Yale New Haven Health: Appointments will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Griffin Health: Sign up through CT VAMS or call the Griffin Health hotline at 203-204-1053.​​​​
  • Trinity Health of New England: Enroll through the VAMS portal or MyCare. You can also contact your Trinity Health primary care provider.
  • CVS Pharmacy: CVS is now booking appointments at 19 locations across the state as well as some Target locations in Connecticut.
  • Walgreens is booking appointments in at least 12 different locations across the state.

DEFENDING AGAINST THE “FOURTH WAVE”

Both the White House and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned this week that despite the rise in vaccination rates, it’s way too soon to declare victory over COVID-19. Nationally, cases and hospitalizations are also climbing again.

“We have so much to look forward to,” Dr. Walensky said, “so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope,” she said. “But right now, I’m scared.”

Dr. Walensky pointed to an uptick in travel and loosening virus restrictions for the increase in cases. Her message – and it’s one we’ve been repeating – is that this is not the time to let our guard down. We MUST continue wearing masks, maintaining distancing, and avoiding travel unless it is absolutely necessary.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • At Masonicare Health Center, 3 Ramage has reopened to visitors.
  • GMPP has three COVID-positive residents as well as three staff members out.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has three COVID-positive patients on service.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Lower Campus Residential: One employee is out on precautionary quarantine due to exposure to a COVID-positive individual at home. One other employee has tested positive and has been removed from the schedule. Contact tracing has determined no further exposure risks.

VIDEO UPDATE

This week, Dr. Ron Schwartz and I are joined by Annie Hoefferle, Executive Director of Masonicare at Chester Village, who reflections on everything her staff and residents have gone through during this pandemic. Dr. Schwartz also talks about the importance of continued vaccinations for all eligible individuals to help prevent the further spread of COVID variants and #crushCOVID. Please watch below.


3/31/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


3/25/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Like many of you, I am saddened and angry about the uptick in violence and hate speech directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Although this most recent wave appears to have been triggered by some news outlets and political leaders referring to COVID-19 as a “China virus,” the sad truth is that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been experiencing some brand of racism in this country for over a century.

Working, as we do, on the front lines of this pandemic, we know better than anyone that COVID-19 doesn’t care about one’s race, religion, or skin color. The global focus right now needs to be on beating the virus, not on where it originated.

Let’s not only be leaders in the fight against COVID-19. Let us also be supportive of those who have been facing racial bias and harassment. Because viruses don’t discriminate, and neither should we.

“THIS IS WHY”

In February, our Marketing Department put out a casting call for vaccinated employees to share why they decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine for a new commercial campaign called “This is Why.” I was happy to participate since I only had one line to memorize!

Here’s the 60-second version of the commercial which recently started airing: https://youtu.be/e1fE5Mh-rB0. Recognize anyone else you know?

My thanks to everyone involved with this campaign to promote vaccinations. Masonicare can and should take a leadership role in that effort to set a good example for the communities we serve.

GROWING LIST OF EMPLOYERS MANDATING VACCINATION

For those wondering if Masonicare is alone in requiring our employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19, we learned this week that two more senior living operators – Enlivant and Sunrise Senior Living – are making vaccination a condition of employment.

They join a growing list of senior living operators, among them ALG Senior Living, Atria Senior Living, Civitas Senior Living, Juniper Communities, and Silverado, in announcing such policies.

Enlivant’s CEO summed it up perfectly: “We realize it’s a deeply personal experience, but we believe that vaccination is probably the best thing that we can do to ensure safety, especially after seeing what happened in the last year.”

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • A positive PCR test came back for a resident on 3 Ramage who was beyond the 90-day mark since last testing positive. A follow-up antigen test and second PCR came back negative. However, per DPH, visitation to this unit must be suspended until at least April 2.
  • A total of eight residents – one since hospitalized – and four staff members on GMPP have tested positive for COVID. The non-quarantine portion of the unit remains open for admissions.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has two COVID-positive patients on service.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • A food service employee at Pond Ridge Assisted Living remains out due to a positive COVID test.
  • Masonicare at Mystic reports that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. Because the employee works primarily in memory care, memory care residents will be tested Friday and visitation stopped for one week. Additionally, one independent living resident who tested positive for the virus last week remains in quarantine.
  • Wallingford (Lower Campus Apartments): One employee is out on precautionary quarantine due to exposure to a COVID-positive individual at home.
  • Our external ALSA site in Norwalk, Kingsway, reports one staff member out due to a positive COVID test.

VIDEO UPDATE WITH DR. RON SCHWARTZ

This last week brought a number of developments including the first confirmed case of another COVID-19 variant in Connecticut, and a possible fourth vaccine that could be coming to the U.S. market soon. In this week’s video update, Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, fills us in on the latest. We also talk about the progress of our re-opening plans for the Masonicare communities. You can watch the video below.


3/24/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


3/19/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Gov. Ned Lamont announced this week that COVID vaccine eligibility is being updated again. Beginning this Friday, any adult state resident age 45 or older will have the opportunity to schedule a vaccine appointment. On April 5, eligibility will expand to all resident 16 years and up. The Governor said that the timeline was being moved up in expectation of a big increase in the availability of vaccines coming from the federal government. Obviously, this is fantastic news. The more people that get vaccinated in this country (and globally), the closer we’ll get to “herd immunity” – that is, when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely.

Leading up to Masonicare’s COVID vaccination deadline of June 30, we will continue to send out weekly updates and reminders with information about how and where to get vaccinated in the community. In addition to the state-run vaccine portal and VAMS, new resources are continuing to pop up, like the Dr. B Standby List (https://hidrb.com/), which connects people who don’t have appointments elsewhere with local providers that have extra doses.

REOPENING UPDATE

Masonicare Health Center and all of our residential communities continue to slowly reopen. Visitations are going smoothly, dining rooms are reopening, and small group activities are resuming.

As an organization, we’ve been in lockdown mode for so long to keep the COVID-19 virus out that the process of reopening has been a big adjustment. It is impacting operations and daily routines in many ways, perhaps down to where you park when you arrive to start your shift. I appreciate your patience and flexibility as we work through this together, but no one

appreciates it more than our residents and their loved ones. If you’ve seen residents hug their family members for the first time in nearly a year, and the emotions that come with that, then you know it’s worth the effort.

Infection control remains a top priority. We may make adjustments here and there, but we’re still counting on you to follow all PPE, screening, and testing guidelines at your location.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Five residents on GMPP have tested positive for COVID. All asymptomatic. This will not impact visitation elsewhere at Masonicare Health Center.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has two COVID-positive patients on service.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • A staff member at Pond Ridge Assisted Living has tested positive for COVID. This employee works in memory care. All memory care residents are being tested Friday and visitation has been suspended for indoor visits for one week or until no new positives arise.

HEALTHCARE HEROES: “JUST WALKING BY”

In the latest episode of Healthcare Heroes, I speak with Dante, one of our Cafe Attendants at the Duck Inn at Masonicare at Ashlar Village. He is the latest recipient of Masonicare’s GEM (Go the Extra Mile) Award for his dedication and, as we discuss in this episode, never being too busy to do the little things that mean so much to those we serve: https://youtu.be/89tnelSz5s4.

VIDEO UPDATE WITH DR. RON SCHWARTZ

More and more people are getting vaccinated, but questions remain about whether vaccinated individuals can still spread the virus or if they still need to wear masks. Dr. Schwartz weighs in on these topics, and we talk about the easing of many COVID restrictions happening across the state and Masonicare’s reopening plans. You can watch below.


3/18/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit


3/11/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

 If you’ve seen this headline:

 “CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Privately Without Masks”

… I want to make it clear that Masonicare’s current mask policies remain in place for all staff, regardless of your vaccination status. Please continue to use good judgment at home and out in the community.

Our residents have seen the headline, too. We want to be understanding and sympathetic of the fact that most have lived under some form of quarantine for a year. We’ve gotten reports of vaccinated residents walking around our communities without masks, specifically because they heard about the latest CDC guidance. If you encounter residents out of their apartments without masks, you should feel comfortable politely reminding them that Masonicare’s position on mask use has not changed.

You can also point out that the same CDC guidance stated that fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions in most circumstances to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People who are fully immunized should continue to wear masks and keep their distance from others in public or while visiting unvaccinated people at higher risk for severe cases of COVID-19.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • There was much excitement (and media attention) at Masonicare Health Center yesterday with the return of indoor visitation. It was an emotional day for all as residents enjoyed their first in-person visits with loved ones for the first time in months. I want to send a huge shout-out to MHC staff for all the steps they took to ensure the process went smoothly and recognize their efforts over the last year to keep our residents connected with their families. They facilitated about 14,000 video chats and roughly 7,000 window visits.
  • One MHC employee has tested positive for COVID and is now out on quarantine. However, based on the most recent guidance, visitation can continue because all residents on the impacted floor were antigen tested and the results all came back negative. The entire building was also PCR swabbed today.

 HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has one COVID-positive patient on service.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • An employee at Ashlar Village Assisted Living has tested positive for COVID. Per the local Health Department, visitation can continue because the employee had no close contacts.

VIDEO UPDATE

It’s been exactly one year since Connecticut declared a Public Health Emergency in response to the coronavirus. It has certainly been a year we could never have predicted, but also one that has shown how resilient we all are. In this week’s video, we take a look back together... watch below.


3/10/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit
 


3/5/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

With the community spread of COVID-19 dropping and the continued administration of vaccines, Governor Lamont announced an easing of restrictions for public gatherings and certain businesses, to take effect March 19. Capacity limits will be lifted for restaurants, retail stores, gyms, houses of worship, etc.

Additionally, Connecticut’s travel advisory will be modified from a requirement to “recommended guidance.” Notably, face coverings, social distancing, and other cleaning and disinfecting protocols will continue to be required.

What does all of that mean for us here at Masonicare? You’ll recall that when infection rates dropped last summer, we continued to take a slow, careful approach to reopening. We followed the latest guidance from the state Department of Public Health but always erred on the side of caution to protect our residents, patients, and staff. That will continue to be our approach.

We’ll also evaluate our travel policies and update our daily screening questions, if necessary.

Because of the nature of what we do, and the population we serve, each of us has to be extra vigilant at work, at home, and out in the community. We can’t let our guard down. Not yet. Not when only about 20% of Connecticut’s population has been vaccinated. So please continue to use good judgment.

Thank you!

THIRD VACCINE APPROVED

As expected, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use last week. Thousands of doses have already been administered nationwide.

Obviously, this is great news. Having a third safe and effective vaccine to boost the national supply will get us closer to defeating this deadly virus which has claimed the lives of more than 500,000 Americans.

So which of the three vaccines available – Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, or Moderna – is best? Experts say (and I agree) that right now, the best vaccine is the one that is offered to you.

To find the nearest available vaccination clinic in the community and schedule an appointment, visit ct.gov/covidvaccine and enter your zip code. From there you’ll receive instructions on how to schedule an appointment at each specific clinic. Appointments can be scheduled over the internet or via telephone. Those who do not have access to the internet can call Connecticut’s COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Barring any positive test results among staff or residents, indoor visitation at Masonicare Health Center is scheduled to resume on March 10. Visitation at the lower campus apartments will resume Monday.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has two COVID-positive patients on service.
  • An RCA at Immanuel House has tested positive for COVID. All residents will be tested as a precaution. Also, one employee at St. Jude Common remains out on quarantine due to community exposure.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • No positive staff or resident test results were reported. Our communities are slowly reopening to allow for limited indoor visitation, the use of common areas, etc.

VIDEO UPDATE

In this week’s video, I speak with Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, about the main differences between the vaccines currently available. I also give an update on the vaccination process at Masonicare and throughout Connecticut and our plans to slowly reopen our communities. Watch below.


3/3/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz
 


2/25/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

By now you’ve probably heard that the state is expanding eligibility to COVID vaccines, based on age, to help speed up distribution to Connecticut residents. The planned schedule is as follows:

  • March 1: Expands to age group 55 to 64 (plus Pre-K through 12 teachers and staff)
  • March 22: Expands to age group 45 to 54 
  • April 12: Expands to age group 35 to 44
  • May 3: Expands to age group 16 to 34 

This is good news for the community, as was the report released yesterday by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that found the new single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson to be safe and effective. Although less effective at preventing infection than the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was found to be just as good at preventing hospitalization or death. The FDA is expected to approve it for emergency use within days. 

DAILY SCREENING 
A reminder that even though infections are down and vaccinations are increasing, all of our policies about PPE use, distancing, and daily screening are still in effect. We are continuing to maintain a safe environment for our residents and staff at EVERY location, including our home care branches. 

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center has gone four weeks with no confirmed COVID-positive residents. Thanks largely to vaccinations, the number of nursing home cases in Connecticut dropped from 483 in early January to 30 as of last week.
  • All MHC employees out due to positive tests or exposure have completed their quarantine periods and most have returned to work. 

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES 

  • Masonicare Home Health/Hospice & Palliative Care has one COVID-positive patient on service. 

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES 

  • Antigen testing for staff is coming to all three of our residential communities. Having the ability to rapid-test staff in these areas will give us another valuable tool for infection control.
  • Masonicare at Mystic has one employee currently out due to exposure to a COVID-positive individual in the community. 

VIDEO UPDATE 
This week, Dr. Ronald Schwartz and I talk about Governor Lamont’s decision to expand vaccine eligibility in Connecticut. Then I give an update on our plan to slowly reopen common areas and resume visitations at Masonicare communities. You can watch below.

Keep up the great work. We are getting through this together!


2/24/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


2/18/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

As long as positive trends in Connecticut’s COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue, Governor Ned Lamont announced this week that he’s planning on loosening certain restrictions, effective March 19.

We’re all looking forward to a gradual reopening of the state – especially our residents and their loved ones, who are eager to resume in-person visits. But it’s important that we proceed slowly and carefully, especially given the emergence of new COVID-19 variants. The leadership teams at Masonicare Health Center and our residential communities are preparing for the inevitable questions about when and how we’ll reopen. As we always have, we will continue to follow the latest guidance from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and take whatever steps are necessary to minimize the risk to our residents, patients, staff, and visitors.

For the foreseeable future, that will include following all the infection control measures proven to work, like wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, avoiding large crowds, submitting to regular testing, etc.

VACCINATION NEWS

Originally, the last pharmacy-run COVID vaccine clinics at Masonicare were going to be for second doses only. New guidance from the Department of Public Health states that nursing home and assisted living residents can receive their first dose at those clinics. DPH is planning “clean-up” vaccine clinics to assist in the second dose vaccination of nursing home and assisted living residents who receive their first dose during the third pharmacy-run clinic. This will be a temporary program to fill the gap between the pharmacy clinics and the Retail Pharmacy program.

Employees will also be able to get dose No. 1 at the final clinic but will need to find a community provider that has the Pfizer vaccine for dose No. 2. We’ll have more information to share about that soon, but for now, you can register for the March 4-5 clinic at Masonicare Health Center by clicking here: https://bit.ly/3qKMnpq.

 HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center has gone three weeks with no confirmed COVID-positive residents!
  • One new MHC staff member onsite for orientation this week has tested positive for COVID. The employee did not have access to any of the nursing units, so no quarantine of those areas was necessary.
  • There are currently four MHC employees out due to positive COVID tests and eight others out due to exposure.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has seven COVID-positive patients on service and one staff member out on quarantine.
  • Masonicare at Home reports one employee out due to exposure to a COVID-positive family member. There is one client on service who is presumed COVID-positive, and a confirmed COVID-positive client on service at Masonicare at Mystic.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Masonicare at Mystic has one COVID-positive memory care resident on quarantine in another part of the community. Additionally, an employee who last worked Monday has tested positive. There were no direct employee contacts and indirect resident contacts but the identified residents will be quarantined and tested.
  • An Ashlar Village assisted living employee already out on quarantine for two weeks has tested positive for COVID.

VIDEO UPDATE

COVID positivity rates have declined over the last few weeks here in Connecticut and elsewhere, but we can’t let our guards down. In this week’s video, Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, gives us an update on the latest information about the virus. Then, I recall a recent act of kindness that brought smiles to the faces of the residents and staff at Masonicare Health Center. I also talk about whether we’ll be able to resume in-person visits for our patients and residents. You can watch below.


2/17/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


2/11/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Eight weeks after the first COVID vaccine clinic at Masonicare, I’m pleased to say that many of our employees and most of our residents have received at least one dose. And Masonicare Health Center, the affiliate hardest hit by the pandemic and which has been dealing with an outbreak of its own for over a month, closed its COVID isolation unit after the last residents there were deemed recovered and returned to their units. I take these as very positive signs.

Of course, we still have much work to do, beginning with vaccinating the rest of our workforce before the end of June. I know that some Masonicare employees have declined to take either of the two-dose vaccines currently available because they prefer to wait for a single-dose vaccine like the one in development from Johnson & Johnson. In early clinical trials, that vaccine has been shown to be up to 72% effective in preventing infection.

I’m of the opinion that people should take whichever approved vaccine is offered to them because they may not have the opportunity to choose later on. No one knows when the single-dose vaccine will be available, so counting on having access to it before the end of June is a bit of a gamble.

Still, Masonicare will not mandate that employees receive one vaccine over another. We will encourage you to take the most effective ones available – both Pfizer and Moderna have been shown to be over 90% effective after two doses – but the choice will be up to you. Ultimately, our position is that ANY protection against COVID is better than NO protection.

To date, over 44 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Masonicare Health Center has no confirmed COVID-positive residents.
  • GMPP reports one COVID-positive resident. This individual, who previously tested negative upon readmission to GMPP after a hospital stay, is now in an isolation room on the unit.
  • DPH Epidemiology and the CDC are onsite at the Health Center as part of a broader study into why some nursing home residents test positive for COVID even after one or two vaccine doses. The team praised MHC for its infection control efforts.
  • The number of COVID-positive staff out is down to four and all are due back next week. Four others remain out due to exposure.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has seven COVID-positive patients on service and no staff members out.
  • Masonicare at Home reports one COVID-positive client on service and one staff member out due to exposure.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Chester Village has one staff member out recovering from COVID.
  • A memory care resident at Masonicare at Mystic has tested positive for COVID. This individual is asymptomatic and quarantining in another part of the community. All staff were tested again on Tuesday and memory care residents will be retested Friday.

VIDEO UPDATE

In this week’s video, I talk about why Masonicare is making vaccinations mandatory for all staff. I’m also joined by Sierra Drevline, Masonicare’s new Director of Employee Health Services, for an update on vaccine clinics throughout the continuum. Then, Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, offers resources to help those eligible for the vaccine obtain an appointment and reminds us all to stay vigilant to help prevent spreading the virus. You can watch below.


2/10/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz
 


2/4/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

CVS announced it will begin administering free COVID vaccines to eligible populations on Thursday, February 11 at a dozen CVS Pharmacy locations across Connecticut.

Vaccines at participating CVS Pharmacy locations in Connecticut will be available to individuals meeting state criteria (including healthcare workers and residents aged 75 and over). Those wishing to be vaccinated must register in advance at CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app. People without internet access can also contact CVS customer service at 800-746-7287. Walk-in vaccinations without an appointment will not be provided.

For CVS Pharmacy locations that will begin to offer COVID-19 vaccinations on February 11, appointments will become available for booking as early as February 9 as stores receive shipments of the vaccine.

We do not know yet exactly which CVS locations are included on that list, but it was reported that they are in Avon, Bristol, Coventry, Glastonbury, Guilford, Hamden, Middletown, North Haven, and Uncasville.

We will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available.

REMINDER: After the last vaccine clinics are held at Masonicare, you will need to find a community provider (like CVS) to get vaccinated for COVID before the end of June.

GETTING BACK TO “NORMAL”

What’s it going to take? A lot more people vaccinated. According to infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, about 70-85% of the U.S. population needs to be fully vaccinated against COVID before the country can begin to return to a sense of normalcy.

About 34 million vaccine doses have been administered so far, with more than 27 million people having received at least one dose. That works out to just over 8% of the population. Only 6.4 million people have received both doses.

GOT QUESTIONS? CALL SIERRA

Sierra Drevline is settling into her new role as Director of Employee Health Services. Her first priority is getting as many employees vaccinated for COVID as possible. If you have any questions about the vaccine or if you need help finding a clinic to attend at Masonicare, please feel free to call Sierra at 203-679-6108 or email her at sdrevline@masonicare.org.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • There are currently nine residents on MHC’s COVID isolation unit (3 Sturges).
  • Four GMPP residents are currently in the COVID-positive cohort.
  • There are 12 MHC employees out who have either tested positive for COVID or were exposed to someone with the virus.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has seven COVID-positive patients on service and three staff members out.
  • Masonicare at Home has one COVID-positive client on service.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Vaccine clinics continue today, Friday, and Saturday at Ashlar Village.
  • One Chester Village employee remains out recovering from COVID.
  • At Masonicare at Mystic, all memory care and independent living residents with recent exposure have tested negative. One COVID-positive memory care resident remains in quarantine in a private apartment outside of memory care and remains asymptomatic. One food service employee has tested positive and remains out.

WEEKLY VIDEO

Should you “double mask?” There has been growing concern over the different strains of COVID and the idea that they may be more easily transmitted. Some health officials suggest we may want to consider wearing two masks when going into a more public situation such as a grocery store. In this week’s video, Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, gives his insight on this issue. We also spoke about how important it is to stay the course with all of our safety measures. Watch below.  ​​​​


2/4/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz
 


1/28/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Some employees have asked, “If Masonicare is making vaccination for COVID mandatory for all employees at the end of June, why isn’t Masonicare offering vaccines through June?” The answer is simple: we don’t have any. Vaccines are brought to our locations by our pharmacy partners, CVS and Walgreens. They schedule the clinics, not Masonicare. I would love for us to have our own supply of vaccines so that we can administer them upon request, but that’s not how the state and federal governments are managing the vaccine rollout. At least, not yet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), early safety data from the first month of COVID vaccination finds the shots are as safe as the studies suggested they’d be. Anyone who has had an allergic reaction has been treated successfully, and no other serious problems have turned up among the more than 20 million Americans vaccinated since mid-December. Data was collected from several tracking systems, including the one we’ve recommended to Masonicare employees: the V-Safe After Vaccination Health Checker.

With over 425,000 COVID-related deaths in this country, we have to use every weapon at our disposal to slow the spread. That starts with getting vaccinated as soon as you are able.

To date, about 2,500 vaccinations have been administered to Masonicare employees and residents, inclusive of first and second doses.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • There are currently 27 residents on MHC’s COVID isolation unit (3 Sturges).
  • Six GMPP residents have tested positive for COVID.
  • There are 24 MHC employees out who have either tested positive for COVID or were exposed to someone with the virus.
  • Two Wright residents are on quarantine after exposure in the community to someone who tested positive for COVID.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 20 COVID-positive patients on service and five staff members out.
  • Two Masonicare at Home employees have tested positive for COVID and are out on quarantine. The most recent positive only works at Ashlar Village. Contact tracing is underway.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Masonicare at Ashlar Village reports one employee has tested positive for COVID and is currently out on quarantine.
  • One Chester Village resident who had been at Masonicare Health Center recovering from COVID has returned home. One MCV employee out since late December is expected to return in February.
  • Masonicare at Mystic reports that a memory care resident has tested positive for COVID, though is asymptomatic. The resident is moving into an assisted living apartment with a live-in caregiver from MAH. Additionally, a hairdresser for MAM has tested positive. This individual was sent home Monday due to symptoms and was tested before leaving. Contact tracing has occurred for the four IL residents seen by the hairdresser, and all are quarantining and will be tested.

VIDEO: WEEKLY UPDATE

Getting our seniors vaccinated is a major challenge. Dealing with the isolation many of them are feeling is another. I spoke this week with Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, about this issue and about why physical distancing continues to be necessary. We also give an update about our vaccination clinics for residents and staff. You can watch it below.


1/27/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


1/21/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Last week, over 1,000 doses of the COVID vaccine were administered to Masonicare residents and staff across the state. Hundreds more received their first or second doses this week as they did their part to slow the spread of the virus.

Some of you still have concerns about vaccine safety. Based on what our leadership team is hearing, these concerns are largely based on rumors and myths, or deliberately misleading information spread by people who are opposed to ALL vaccines, and not based on data from trusted medical and scientific sources. These include:

 “COVID vaccines will alter my DNA.” This is incorrect. The vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Injecting mRNA into your body does not do anything to our DNA (our genetic code). Human cells break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after they have finished using the instructions.

 “If I take the COVID vaccine, I won’t be able to have children.” There is no evidence to support this. Pregnant women are at higher risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, but there is no evidence of increased miscarriage rates. When someone is sick with COVID-19, their immune system generates the same antibodies to the spike protein that COVID-19 vaccines would. So, if COVID-19 affected fertility, there already would be an increase in miscarriage rates in women infected with COVID-19. This has not happened.

 “I’m worried about other long-term effects of the vaccine.” It’s true that we don’t know yet if taking the vaccine could cause other medical problems down the line. Here’s what we do know:

  • That as of today, the deadly COVID-19 virus has killed over two million people globally and 400,000 here in the United States.
  • Most side effects from the vaccines occur quickly and resolve on their own.
  • Very few people out of the many thousands vaccinated across the world developed problems later on.
  • The CDC and other agencies are watching for reports of negative long-term health effects.

It's important that we make decisions based on data, not emotions. When you compare the minimal risks from the COVID vaccine against the known risks, long-term, of even mild cases of COVID, it makes sense to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Other reasons given by staff for not getting vaccinated include:

 “I don’t want to take the vaccine because I’ll get side effects and have to miss work.” There's no guarantee that side effects will be so severe that they would force you to miss work. Most people report mild to moderate side effects that are typically more noticeable after the second dose. Side effects like fever, soreness, and fatigue are normal and a sign that your immune system is beefing itself up. Consider this: Would you rather miss a day or two of work, or be out weeks (or longer) because you became infected with COVID?

 “I’ll just wait to get the vaccine when it becomes mandatory.” That's your choice, but I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated sooner rather than later. Right now, most Masonicare employees have easy access to the vaccine through the clinics scheduled by our pharmacy partners. These clinics are convenient and free. Once those end, you’ll need to find a provider in the community to get your vaccine before the end of June.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • There are currently 31 residents on MHC’s COVID isolation unit (3 Sturges), ten of whom will soon be considered recovered. Two of the three residents currently hospitalized are expected to be discharged soon.
  • Four GMPP residents have tested positive for COVID.
  • There are approximately 30 MHC employees out who have either tested positive for COVID or were exposed to someone with the virus, with some due to return today.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 18 COVID-positive patients on service and nine staff members out.
  • One Masonicare at Home employee is being monitored with COVID-like symptoms.
  • Among our external ALSA sites, cases have been reported at Virginia Connolly Residence (one positive resident and one employee out due to exposure), Immanuel House (one positive resident with three others showing symptoms), and Smithfield Gardens (one employee out due to exposure).

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • One food service employee at Ashlar Village remains out after testing positive for COVID last week.
  • One Masonicare at Chester Village employee who tested positive in December remains out. MCV's first COVID vaccine clinic will be held on Monday, Jan. 25 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
  • Masonicare at Mystic currently has three COVID-positive employees. As a precaution, residents will be tested Friday and Monday. MAM’s first COVID vaccine clinic took place today.

VIDEO: A SPECIAL GUEST

A few days ago, many independent living residents at Ashlar Village had the opportunity to receive their first dose of the COVID vaccine. In our latest video, Dr. Ron Schwartz and I spoke with one of them, Pat Baird, about what the process was like and what went into his decision to get the vaccine as soon as it became available. Dr. Schwartz also has some important reminders about being vigilant and practicing good safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID. Please watch below.


1/20/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit, Dr. Ronald Schwartz and Masonicare at Ashlar Village resident, Pat Baird


1/14/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

It has been a very busy week of COVID vaccine clinics across our continuum for employees and residents. I want to thank all of you who have rolled up your sleeves to receive your first and/or second dose. You are helping save lives which, ultimately, is what working in healthcare is all about.

I know that many of our homecare employees have already received or scheduled their vaccinations out in the community. But if you work at Masonicare Health Center, our residential communities, or any of our external assisted living sites, and have not yet been vaccinated, I urge you to attend the clinics that have been scheduled at your location. Please remember that all employees are expected to be vaccinated by the end of June (barring medical or religious exemptions). After the last clinics are scheduled, those who have not been vaccinated will need to find a provider in the community.

V-SAFE AFTER VACCINATION APP

If you have received your COVID vaccine – first or second dose – I encourage you to sign up for the V-SAFE AFTER VACCINATION HEALTH CHECKER. It’s a program from the CDC to help you report any side effects you might experience after getting the shot. You can sign up for V-Safe here: https://vsafe.cdc.gov/.

Please remember that side effects like fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and pain at the injection site are NORMAL and tend to be more noticeable after the second dose.

AROUND THE STATE

For the first time since widespread testing began, the COVID positivity rate in Connecticut has spiked over to just over 10%. It was less than 1% back in mid-July.

Governor Ned Lamont announced this week the beginning of the rollout of the state’s second phase of vaccinations. It includes Connecticut residents 75 and over, certain essential workers, and staff in congregate settings. This will be expanded soon to include people 65 and over as well as residents who have underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk of the virus.

To date, over 210,000 people in Connecticut have tested positive for COVID, of whom approximately 6,500 have died.

YALE TESTING SITES

Some of you have asked about using the COVID testing site on our Wallingford campus. To clarify, ALL of Yale-New Haven’s testing sites provide anyone with an opportunity to get tested without a referral, regardless of whether you are symptomatic or not. There should be no charge to you. However, you do have to make an appointment in advance. To make an appointment online, click here: https://covidtesting2.ynhhs.org/.

NOTE: This testing is offered as a service to the community. It is NOT a replacement for the mandatory weekly testing at your work location.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • There are currently 25 COVID-positive residents on MHC’s isolation unit (3 Sturges), plus three currently hospitalized.
  • There are currently 30 MHC employees out who have either tested positive for COVID or were exposed to someone with the virus.
  • One GMPP resident has tested positive and is now on the isolation unit.
  • One food service employee at the Wright Building is out due to a positive test result.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 17 COVID-positive patients on service and eight staff members out.
  • Among our external ALSA sites, Smithfield Gardens reports three employees out while Kingsway, Immanuel House, and Welles Country Village each have one employee out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Masonicare at Chester Village reports one COVID-positive employee out, one employee on quarantine due to community exposure, and one resident currently recovering from the virus at MHC.
  • Masonicare at Mystic has one staff member out with positive results due to community exposure.

VIDEO: UPDATE WITH DR. SCHWARTZ

This week, many of our staff and residents received their second dose of the COVID vaccine, while many others will get their first. I spoke with Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, about how that process is going and the importance of taking advantage of our upcoming vaccine clinics. Watch below.


1/13/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


1/7/2021 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

The good news, as we conclude the first week of the New Year, is that many more COVID vaccine clinics have been scheduled for Masonicare residents and staff at Masonicare Health Center, our external ALSA sites, and our residential communities. Also, vaccines are being made available to our homecare staff. We continue to await guidance from the state on when the rest of our workforce will have an opportunity to be vaccinated.

The bad news is that, nationally, the vaccine rollout has been slower than anticipated and COVID cases are continuing to surge. Yesterday, the United States reported the highest single-day death total yet with 3,865, bringing the overall toll to 361,123, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In addition, the number of people who have been infected reached more than 21 million.

There have also been two confirmed cases in Connecticut of the more contagious strain of the virus.

I share these grim numbers with you to help reinforce the seriousness of the situation and to help answer questions like, “Why do I still have to wear a mask?” or “Why is Masonicare making it mandatory to get vaccinated?”

I know that many of you are feeling tired and overwhelmed. But we will only get through this crisis by focusing on those things within our control: wearing PPE properly, practicing safe behaviors, and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • There are currently 13 COVID-positive residents on MHC’s isolation unit (3 Sturges).
  • There are currently 10 MHC employees out who have either tested positive for COVID or were exposed to someone with the virus.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 17 COVID-positive patients on service and four staff members out.
  • Among our external ALSA sites, positive test results have been reported at Immanuel House (three residents), Smithfield Gardens (five residents either confirmed positive or symptomatic and three employees out due to positive test results, symptoms, or community exposure), and Welles Country Village (one positive resident and one employee out with symptoms).

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Masonicare at Chester Village reports one resident has tested positive for COVID and is quarantining at home. Test results for two other residents who were on precautionary quarantine came back negative. One MCV employee who tested positive remains out and has been hospitalized.
  • Masonicare at Mystic reports that two employees were exposed to a COVID-positive family member. They are out and will provide negative test results before returning to work.

VIDEO: VACCINE UPDATE

The news about a fast-spreading new strain of COVID and the effect it’s having in other countries has many people feeling uneasy. I spoke with Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, about the coronavirus and the latest science about mutations that are occurring. I also give an updated timeline of the vaccination schedule for Masonicare staff and residents throughout the continuum. You can watch the video in the below post.

The Marketing Department’s Sandy Potter has assembled this fantastic video featuring many of our best masked selfies, set to the song “Didn’t Have To.” Click here to watch: https://youtu.be/AX8omJiTlzU


1/6/2021: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


12/31/2020 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Well, here we are on the last day of the hardest year in memory. For all the heartbreak and exhaustion 2020 offered, I choose to focus on how our employees rose to the occasion and furthered the mission of Masonicare through their courage, compassion, sacrifice, and teamwork.

The challenges we face today won’t magically disappear at midnight, but I am optimistic that 2021 will offer relief for the Masonicare family in many ways … starting with expanded access to the COVID vaccine.

We learned this week that all of Masonicare’s external assisted living sites have been scheduled for COVID vaccine clinics in January and February. We should be able to offer our independent living residents vaccines within that same timeframe. And all of our frontline home care staff have been uploaded into the CDC’s vaccine management system as a first step toward getting them vaccinated.

Along with good health, happiness, and prosperity in the New Year for you and your loved ones, I wish for all of us to take the hard lessons learned over the last nine months and apply them to our lives and our work.

And let’s be kind to one another. The old saying, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about” has never been truer.
 

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • There are currently two COVID-positive residents on MHC’s isolation unit (3 Sturges). Excluding staff, these are the first positive test results at the facility in almost a month.
  • Since October 27, a total of 100 MHC residents have tested positive for COVID.
  • An Ashlar Village resident recovering from the virus has been moved to a regular unit.
  • There are currently 20 MHC employees out who have either tested positive for COVID or were exposed to someone with the virus.
  • The next COVID vaccine clinic for MHC residents and staff will occur on January 11-12.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 20 COVID-positive patients on service and five staff members out.
  • Masonicare at Home reports no COVID-positive staff or clients.
  • Among our external ALSA sites, Welles Country Village reports three staff out and one COVID-positive resident has been hospitalized. One Immanuel House resident who tested positive has been hospitalized. Smithfield Gardens has five COVID-positive residents, three of whom have been hospitalized.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • The next COVID vaccine clinic at Ashlar Village will occur on January 11-12.
  • One Ashlar Village resident is still recovering from COVID at MHC.
  • Masonicare at Chester Village reports one employee and one private duty aide have tested positive for COVID and one resident is offsite at a COVID recovery center.
  • One Masonicare at Mystic employee who previously tested positive for COVID is set to return after quarantine and resolution of symptoms. Three other employees are out awaiting negative tests following community exposures and two are out with symptoms and awaiting negative tests.

12/30/2020: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


12/24/2020 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Tuesday was our Holiday Cheer Parade through the Wallingford campus. Santa Claus and I brought up the rear of the parade, riding in the back of a pickup truck driven by Sandy Potter. Yes, it was cold, but I loved having the opportunity to bring some holiday cheer to our residents. I know many of you are hard at work right now doing just that, which isn’t easy in a pandemic. But it is appreciated so much by everyone in our care, and by their loved ones on the outside.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for all of us. But this holiday season has also brought with it the promise of a brighter future. This week, we concluded our first COVID-19 vaccine clinic and a second vaccine – this one from Moderna – was approved for emergency use and is already being administered to healthcare workers and staff, and residents of long-term care facilities in the state.

As we look forward to the Holidays when we typically reconnect with family and friends, I would just ask you to consider how your holiday plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe. Please keep gatherings small. Limit to just those in your household, if possible. Avoid going to crowded stores, if you can.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays and hope that the year ahead is one filled with health, happiness, and good fortune for you and your family.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • A total of 241 employees and 172 residents received their first doses of the COVID vaccine at Masonicare Health Center, along with 48 residents at the Wright Building.
  • There is one individual on MHC’s COVID unit - an Ashlar Village resident.
  • There are currently 14 MHC employees and one Wright Building employee out who have either tested positive for COVID or were exposed to someone with the virus.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 26 COVID-positive patients on service and three staff members out.
  • Masonicare at Home has one COVID-positive employee out.
  • Among our external ALSA sites, Virginia Connolly Residence and Kingsway each report one COVID-positive resident; St. Jude Common has one employee due to return but remains out with symptoms; and Smithfield Gardens has two residents and one employee who have tested positive for COVID.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • A total of 108 employees participated in the COVID vaccine clinic at Ashlar Village, along with 51 assisted living residents.
  • One Ashlar Village resident remains on the COVID unit at MHC.
  • One Chester Village resident will soon come off precautionary quarantine. Another resident remains hospitalized but is doing well.
  • Masonicare at Mystic reports four employees out with symptoms, though none are currently suspected of having COVID.

HOLIDAY CHEER PARADE

Thanks to everyone who participated in Tuesday’s parade! Awards for Most Festively Decorated Vehicle (as determined by a group of resident judges) went to the Transportation Department Van (First Place), Pond Ridge Pickup Full of Elves (Second Place), and the Ford Flex decorated by Audrey Grove (Third Place).


12/23/2020: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz

 


12/18/2020 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

March 8, when Connecticut had its first confirmed case of COVID-19, feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? And now, we are just days away from the first COVID-19 vaccine clinics at Masonicare Health Center and Masonicare at Ashlar Village. I am beyond relieved that we have reached this point.

To all those who have volunteered to be vaccinated, thank you. Thank you for recognizing the seriousness of this public health crisis, for doing your part to slow the spread, and for setting a good example for our residents, your coworkers, and the community.

If you were among those wanting to be vaccinated but were not eligible to participate in these first clinics, please note that the vaccine is held and administered by our pharmacy partners, CVS-Omnicare and Walgreens, and distributed in accordance with state and federal guidelines. We are eagerly awaiting guidance on when the vaccine will be made available to the rest of our workforce and residents.

If you still have concerns about taking the vaccine, I encourage you to review the materials we’ve distributed and will continue to share with you in the weeks to come. Talk to your primary care doctor. Visit reputable websites like cdc.gov and fda.gov. Talk to coworkers who’ve taken the vaccine. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Please remember that it’s important for everyone to continue using ALL the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least six feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • The number of COVID-positive residents at Masonicare Health Center is down to two.
  • There are currently 11 MHC employees out who have tested positive for COVID.
  • GMPP has one COVID-positive resident.
  • No COVID-positive staff or residents were reported at the Wright Building.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 17 COVID-positive patients on service and five staff members out.
  • Masonicare at Home has one employee out, expected back by the end of this week, and one community-based client who has tested positive for COVID.
  • Among our external ALSA sites, Kingsway reports two COVID-positive residents (now in rehab) and one staff member out. Welles Country Village, The Towers, Virginia Connolly, and St. Jude Common each report one employee out.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • An Ashlar Village resident who tested positive for COVID was hospitalized and has been discharged to MHC to continue recuperating.
  • Pond Ridge reports one COVID-positive employee.
  • Chester Village reports that a live-in private duty aide has tested positive for COVID.
  • One Masonicare at Mystic employee who had a community exposure remains out and is awaiting second negative test results.

HOLIDAY CHEER PARADE:

The vehicle parade through our Wallingford campus originally planned for Thursday 12/17 has been moved to Tuesday, 12/22 (weather permitting). If you live on or near our Wallingford campus, please feel free to park along the route and cheer us on. You can find the parade route and approximate times here.

THE TRUE PERSONS OF THE YEAR: FRONTLINE HEALTHCARE WORKERS

In case you missed it, my op-ed celebrating our frontline healthcare workers was picked up in the Record-Journal: https://bit.ly/34nCcy0


12/16/2020: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


12/11/2020 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

Yesterday, officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed Pfizer’s application for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine. This comes two days after the very first dose of the vaccine was given to someone outside of a clinical trial: a 90-year-old woman in England named Margaret Keenan. Her message to doubters was, “If I can do it, well, so can you.”

Three former U.S. Presidents – Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama – have each volunteered to get a vaccine on camera to prove it’s safe. They realize, as I do, that we need to address the public’s concerns about taking a new vaccine. That’s why I have volunteered to be among the first Masonicare employees to get vaccinated.

I am no infectious disease expert. But I have been reading extensively about all the work that went into developing these vaccines BEFORE the pandemic and the safety measures taken during clinical trials. Yes, the trials were faster than usual but the data shows they were also thorough. Drugmakers took no shortcuts. I am convinced the vaccines are as safe as they are effective.

We saw what can happen when COVID-19, an invisible terror, slips silently into our skilled nursing facility. The results were devastating. To protect those in our care, we need to fight back with every weapon we’ve got. Please join me in getting the vaccine as soon as it is available to you.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

There are signs that the outbreak at Masonicare Health Center is subsiding. New infections have slowed. There are six COVID-positive residents in-house and 6 Ramage, the unit hardest hit during this crisis, is now fully recovered.

  • There are currently 20 MHC employees out who have tested positive for COVID.
  • GMPP has one COVID-positive resident.
  • Four Wright Residence employees are out: two with COVID, one on precautionary quarantine, and one for exposure (test pending). One resident of the Johnson Apartments has tested positive.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 19 COVID-positive patients on service and six staff members out (four COVID-positive, two with tests pending).
  • Masonicare at Home has two COVID-positive employees, and one employee out with symptoms.
  • Among our external ALSA sites, Kingsway reports two COVID-positive residents (one of whom is hospitalized) and one staff member out. Welles Country Village has one COVID-positive employee.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Pond Ridge reports one COVID-positive resident.
  • Two Masonicare at Mystic employees are out with COVID-like symptoms and awaiting test results.
  • Chester Village reports that two private duty aides have tested positive for COVID, and three residents are in precautionary quarantine. One contractor has also tested positive, but had no close contacts at Chester Village.

HOLIDAY CHEER PARADE:

Back in May, we held a vehicle parade through our Wallingford campus to put some smiles on the faces of our residents and employees. It was so successful that we’re planning another one with a holiday flair. Participants will decorate their cars and follow the parade route from 110 South Turnpike Rd through the Masonicare campus beginning at 2:30 PM Tuesday, December 22nd.

I know that the first holiday celebrations have taken place at Masonicare Health Center and our residential communities. Thank you to everyone for everything you’re doing to make this season special for our residents!


12/9/2020: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


UPDATED 12/7/2020:

Keeping safety in mind for our residents, we've curated a list of holiday gift ideas sure to make your loved one feel special during the season. You can download the list here.


12/4/2020 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

 

Within the next two weeks, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to approve one or both of the COVID vaccines being considered for emergency use.

There are still many unknowns, just as there were when the first polio or measles vaccines were introduced. We need to work through those unknowns together. But the urgency of the situation is clear: skilled nursing and long-term care facilities like Masonicare Health Center are ground zero for outbreaks across our state and country. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 3,100 COVID-related deaths were reported in the United States yesterday – a sobering single-day record.

This is why residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living communities will be among the first to have access to a vaccine. Although we are still developing a formal policy for our employees around this, our philosophy is going to be in line with the rest of our industry: the most critical people to protect in order to save the lives of the people in long-term care or assisted living facilities are the people who work there.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • A total of 99 Masonicare Health Center residents have tested positive for COVID since 10/26. Of those, 38 are still positive and on our isolation units, five are currently hospitalized, 26 are considered recovered.
  • There are currently 22 MHC employees out who have tested positive for COVID. This number includes staff from GMPP.
  • GMPP has one COVID-positive resident.
  • Two Wright Residence employees are out with COVID and another two are out due to exposure/contact tracing.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 20 COVID-positive patients on service and three staff members out (one COVID-positive, two with test results pending).
  • Masonicare at Home has one COVID-positive employee.
  • There is one COVID-positive employee out at Kingsway, and one resident there being monitored for symptoms.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village reports no known COVID-positive staff or residents. There is one employee out at Pond Ridge.
  • One Masonicare at Mystic employee who tested positive during quarantine remains out. One coworker who had contact with that employee out in the community is out and awaiting test results.
  • Chester Village reports no known COVID-positive staff or residents.

12/2/2020: COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


UPDATED 12/01/2020:

Yesterday, DPH Commissioner Gifford re-issued guidance regarding safe holidays which includes links to the State, CDC, and CMS coronavirus recommendations. Read the letter here.


11/27/2020 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

VACCINE UPDATE
There are now three promising vaccine candidates from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer under review. We are hearing that final approval on one or more could come as soon as the second week of December, with distribution to begin immediately thereafter. Indications are that nursing home residents and employees will have priority access. If you’d like to learn more, I recorded a conversation with Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare’s Senior Director for Continuum Health Services. He does a great job of explaining how these vaccines work in a way that the rest of us can understand. You can see and listen to our conversation below.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • A total of 95 Masonicare Health Center residents have tested positive for COVID since 10/26. Of those, 41 are still positive and on our isolation units.
  • There are currently 30 MHC employees out who tested positive for COVID, but 25 recovered and back at work.
  • GMPP has had two COVID-positive residents and two others that are symptomatic. Eight GMPP staff members are currently out: three COVID-positive, and five symptomatic/awaiting test results.
  • One Wright Building employee will return this weekend from precautionary quarantine.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 11 COVID-positive patients on service and four COVID-positive staff members out.
  • MAH has two staff members out: one due to a positive test result, one out due to a potential positive household member. One previously positive staff member is recovered and returning to work tomorrow. One MAH client in the community might have been exposed by a family member who is positive.
  • There are employees out at the following external ALSA sites: Smithfield Gardens (one), Virginia Connolly (two), Fort Hill (one), St. Jude (one) and Kingsway (one).

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • A food service employee at Ashlar Village has tested positive and is now out. Two other MAV staff remain out. We learned this morning that a Pond Ridge employee has also tested positive. Any residents with whom this employee interacted will be tested.
  • Two dining services employees at Masonicare at Mystic remain out due to their potential contact with a COVID-positive individual. We hope to have them back at work soon.
  • Two private duty aides not employed by Masonicare working with a Chester Village resident have tested positive for COVID. That resident was tested and is also positive. Two MCV employees are out due to contact with COVID-positive family members.

11/25/2020
COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


NOVEMBER 20, 2020 - DPH Commissioner Gifford and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman have issued guidance regarding safe holidays which includes links to the State, CDC, and CMS coronavirus recommendations. Read the letter here.


11/20/2020 WEEKLY UPDATE FROM JON-PAUL VENOIT, PRESIDENT & CEO:

I’ve heard many times over the years from family members of our residents about how much they appreciated the way our staff cared for their loved ones. Employees have also shared with me how they think of our residents as “extra grandparents.” Those relationships are a big part of what makes the work we do so special.

None of us want to put our residents and patients at risk, which is why I want to take a moment to talk about the upcoming holiday season.

To reduce the risk of unintentionally spreading COVID at work and in the community, Masonicare strongly urges you to avoid any in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household, as well as any travel. The CDC has also issued a travel warning (click to read).

I know that’s a lot to ask, especially at this time of year. And I know that you have already sacrificed much over the last nine months to protect yourself, your loved ones, and those in our care. The social distancing, being separated from friends and family, having to wear a mask everywhere, and all the other interruptions to normal life have taken a toll. You’re tired and frustrated and scared … and I completely understand. But I have to ask you to find the strength to stick with it.

You are our last line of defense against a virus that threatens the lives of those we’re entrusted to serve. Keeping yourselves healthy and safe, and making smart decisions at home and at work, is the best thing you can do for them right now.

Thank you, again, for all of your hard work. It is making a difference.

VACCINE UPDATE

Drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna have both announced in recent weeks that they have COVID vaccine candidates shown to be over 90% effective in preventing infection. This is very encouraging news, but we still don’t have a timeline for when a vaccine will be distributed. You have my word that we’ll do everything in our power to secure vaccines for our residents and staff as soon as they are available.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • A total of 75 Masonicare Health Center residents have tested positive for COVID since 10/26.
  • 44 residents are still COVID-positive and receiving care on 3 Sturges and 6 Ramage. 18 residents are on our recovery unit (2 Wooster).
  • There are currently 26 MHC employees out who are or were COVID-positive, and an additional 20 out due to symptoms/possible exposure.
  • One Wright Building resident is COVID-positive and quarantined at home.
  • MHC is now using an antigen testing machine to perform rapid tests on residents and employees with COVID-like symptoms. This will help us more quickly determine a return-to-work date for symptomatic employees and potentially reduce the amount of time he/she needs to quarantine.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has eight COVID-positive patients on service and two COVID-positive staff members out.
  • Masonicare at Home has one staff member out due to exposure to a COVID-positive family member.
  • Two employees at Smithfield Gardens are out: one due to exposure and awaiting a second negative test result and another that is symptomatic and also awaiting a second negative test result.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • Ashlar Village has one confirmed COVID-positive resident. Two Pond Ridge employees are out after testing positive for the virus.
  • Coworkers with whom a former employee had contact are out on precautionary quarantine and awaiting test results. The former employee had no contact with residents.
  • A private duty aide, not employed by Masonicare, working with a Chester Village resident tested positive for COVID on 11/16 and has since become symptomatic. The aide has not been in the building since 11/14. The resident was tested today and results are pending. Another MCV staff member is out on precautionary quarantine due to contact with a COVID-positive family member.

SAFE CELEBRATIONS

In the latest video from Masonicare TV, Sandy Potter and I talk to Dr. Ronald Schwartz, Senior Director for Continuum Health Services, about how to celebrate the holiday season safely this year and making sure the holidays are special for our residents despite the limitations of the pandemic.


UPDATED 11/19/2020:

In our continued efforts to keep all of our residents, patients and staff safe we have communicated our recommendations for Holiday Gatherings to all employee team members. Please read.


UPDATED 11/18/2020:

COVID-19 Update from Masonicare President & CEO, JP Venoit and Dr. Ronald Schwartz


UPDATED 11/16/2020:

Please refer to the following policy regarding items brought into the facility:

  1. Outside food is not permitted inside the facility at this time.
  2. Items brought in by visitors and vendors will be checked in through the reception desk through the main entrance. Any items received from outside will be sanitized using available cleansing wipes to disinfect the surface prior to delivery to resident. 
  3. Laundry items will be bagged and inventoried by family to be labeled by the laundry department. Bagged laundry will be dropped off to receptionist for temporary storage until laundry picks up directly from the office off of the lobby. 

Thank you for your patience & understanding.


WEEKLY UPDATE 11/13/2020:

The surge in COVID cases across our service lines mirrors what we’re seeing nationally and across the state. As Ann Collette, our Vice President for Strategy and Business Development told a reporter from FOX 61 News this week, we have an amazing team working hard to keep our residents and patients safe. But we can’t control the spread of the virus within our continuum if we can’t control it out in the community. When the virus walks in through the front door of Masonicare Health Center or one of our residential communities, it’s an invisible enemy that’s almost impossible to stop. 

Every one of us needs to ask ourselves if we really are doing our best to slow the spread - at work and in the community. We need to hold ourselves and others accountable for following infection control guidelines! 

TRAVEL ADVISORY 
Connecticut’s travel advisory list has been updated and now includes Maine and New Hampshire. The safest and most responsible option, for the time being, is to put off ALL out of state travel. 

VACCINE UPDATE 
Along with the rest of the world, we’re eagerly awaiting a safe and effective COVID vaccine. Drugmaker Pfizer, which has a presence here in Connecticut, claims that it has a candidate shown to be more than 90% effective. Studies on this and other drugs are continuing.

Masonicare has registered to participate in a national program that will provide end-to-end management of the COVID vaccination process for our residents and staff. When a vaccine is approved, manufactured, and distributed, we will be ready. 

Here’s what’s happening around the continuum: 

HEALTHCARE SERVICES 

  • A total of 57 Masonicare Health Center residents have tested positive for COVID since the testing on 10/26. Three are currently hospitalized
  • There are currently 21 MHC employees out who are COVID-positive, and an additional 20+ out undergoing contact tracing

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES 

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 15 COVID-positive patients on service, two of whom are currently hospitalized, and two COVID-positive staff members out
  • Masonicare at Home has three staff members out: one awaiting results of a second COVID test, one due to community exposure, and one who has a COVID-positive family member
  • Four employees at Smithfield Gardens are out: two are confirmed COVID-positive, one is experiencing symptoms, and one is out due to possible exposure and will return pending a second negative test result

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES 

  • Ashlar Village had a possible COVID exposure stemming from residents allowing in visitors who later tested positive for the virus. That community is currently not allowing visitors, all common areas have been closed, and meals are being delivered directly to residents
  • There are no known COVID-positive residents at Masonicare at Mystic. A new hire at Mystic tested positive but, before starting work, did have close contact with two employees. Those employees are awaiting second negative results to return to work. One additional Mystic employee is out after displaying COVID like symptoms and is awaiting the results of a COVID test. This employee had no known contact with anyone COVID-positive
  • There are no confirmed cases at Chester Village

UPDATED 11/12/2020:

As of November 10th, weekly testing of residents and staff has resulted in 40 positive residents and 21 positive staff members. All residents who have tested positive have been transferred to isolation units where they are receiving care and being monitored for symptoms of the virus. All staff members who have tested positive are currently out on quarantine.

We continue to work closely with the Department of Public Health who provided Masonicare Health Center with a support visit on Monday and approved our processes for the cohorting of residents who test positive.

We want to reiterate that the health & safety of our residents and employee team members is our main priority. All staff at Masonicare Health Center are being fit tested for N95 masks, which are the gold standard in personal protective equipment (PPE). These masks will replace the currently mandated surgical masks and will be required to be worn at all times while in the healthcare center.

We continue to work to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all of our residents and staff and encourage you to check back frequently for updates. In the meantime, please stay safe and wear your masks.

You could save a life!


UPDATED 11/10/2020:

At this time, Masonicare Health Center is CLOSED TO ALL IN-PERSON VISITORS & VENDORS. Please call the main number, 203-679-5900, for assistance.

Virtual visits are continuing. Please contact the MHC Recreation Department at 203-679-5980 to schedule your call or video call.

Thank you for your patience & understanding.


WEEKLY UPDATE 11/6/2020:

On May 18, at the height of the first wave of the pandemic in Connecticut, the isolation unit at Masonicare Health Center was providing care to 11 individuals, seven of whom were from long-term care. That was our worst outbreak to date until this week when, in the span of about 24 hours, a total of 24 MHC residents were identified as COVID-positive. 

While we are understandably concerned about the sudden and dramatic spike in cases, we are also pleased with how the team at MHC has responded. They moved quickly to isolate the positive residents, performed contact tracing, tested roommates and others who may have been exposed, and obtained permission from DPH to close the facility to all visitors and vendors.

This is going to be a challenging time for our colleagues at MHC, especially on the staffing front. Please keep them in your thoughts. This outbreak should be a warning to all of us. What’s scary about this virus is how quickly and easily it can spread. The constant reminders we put out about infection control, mandatory testing, and practicing good habits at work, at home, and out in the community are to protect you, your coworkers, and everyone we serve!

TRAVEL UPDATE

The map of states and territories on Connecticut’s travel advisory list has been updated. Take a look at it and you’ll see why we’ve been repeating that this is no time to travel. Please be responsible and delay your travel plans to any COVID hot spots or out of the country until further notice.

Here’s what’s happening around the continuum:

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  • Most of the MHC residents who tested positive for COVID were roommates on 2 Wooster (Memory Care). Others were located on 4 Ramage and 6 Ramage; All of these units are now in quarantine for possible exposure
  • 3 Sturges is reopening to serve as a second COVID isolation unit
  • There are currently 11 confirmed COVID-positive MHC employees out on quarantine, plus another 21 out due to exposure or because they are symptomatic

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

  • Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has six COVID-positive patients on service and three COVID-positive staff members out, one of whom splits duty with Masonicare at Home
  • Two MAH employees are on quarantine due to possible exposure and another is out with COVID-like symptoms
  • One COVID-symptomatic resident at Immanuel House has test results pending; One staff member at Smithfield Gardens is COVID-positive and out on quarantine

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

  • One independent resident at Ashlar Village has tested positive for COVID; The resident is symptomatic and quarantining at home
  • There are no confirmed COVID cases at Masonicare at Chester Village or Masonicare at Mystic

UPDATED 11/6/2020:

At this time, Masonicare Health Center is CLOSED TO ALL IN-PERSON VISITORS & VENDORS. Please call the main number, 203-679-5900, for assistance.

Virtual visits are continuing. Please contact the MHC Recreation Department at 203-679-5980 to schedule your call or video call.

Thank you for your patience & understanding.


UPDATED 11/3/2020:

Last week we learned of two positive COVID cases at Masonicare Health Center. These individuals are receiving care in our COVID isolation unit. In addition, due to respiratory symptoms and results of possible exposure identified through contact tracing, we have quarantined 5 additional nursing units.

Additionally, with the cold and flu season upon us, further complicated by the on-going risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are asking that all compassionate care and end-of-life visitors who are sick or experiencing any signs or symptoms of illness to please refrain from visiting our healthcare center. While we continue to support compassionate care and end of life visits, it is imperative that we maintain a safe and healthy environment for your loved one.

For the safety and security of our residents, families, and employee team members, we remain closed to all other in-house visitation at this time. You may schedule virtual visits by contacting our recreation department at 203-679-5900.

With the reported increase in cases in the community, we also want to reiterate how important it is to continue social distancing, wearing face coverings, staying away from large group gatherings, and receiving testing if you are experiencing symptoms or suspect that you have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

Thank you in advance for your support as we work to keep our residents and employee team members safe.


UPDATED 10/27/2020:

Masonicare Health Center 3 Ramage and 5 Ramage are quarantined until 11/1 and 11/4 respectively. Compassionate care visits shall be suspended on those units until they are off quarantine.

In addition, 6 Ramage remains on quarantine until further notice while awaiting retesting of a staff member.

We encourage families to check back for daily updates during this time.


UPDATED 10/20/2020:

While Connecticut still maintains some of the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates in the nation, we are witnessing a slight increase in our positivity rate across the state. We want to assure you that we remain diligent with our screening policies and infection control protocols, including masking for all employee team members, residents, patients, and providers. These measures are an important component of maintaining the safety of our staff and residents. As such, we have temporarily discontinued indoor visitation in all of our residential communities and are limiting visitation at the healthcare center to approved end of life and compassionate care visits ONLY.  

We encourage you to check back frequently for updates regarding our safety protocols and thank you for your patience and understanding as we work together to stay safe and healthy.


IMPORTANT UPDATE - MASONICARE HEALTH CENTER

On October 8th, we received notification that a Masonicare Health Center employee tested positive for COVID-19. In the course of contact tracing, we determined that the employee had been on Ramage 6 twice within the last week. As a result, that unit is now in quarantine. All MHC residents will be tested on Monday, October 12th.

Per DPH and CDC guidelines, indoor visitation has been suspended and will not resume until we have 14 days of negative testing. However, end-of-life and compassionate care visits will continue. We have been in communication with families and will continue to keep everyone updated as necessary. 

If you have any questions or concerns about this information, please call Administrator Courtney Wood at 203-679-5933.


MASONICARE HEALTH CENTER

Visitation Guidelines

Masonicare is committed to facilitating family visits with consideration of infection control practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to this vulnerable population.

Visitors must follow all of the guidelines outlined below.

We Pride Ourselves on Person-Centered Care!

  • Please use the main visitor entrance to enter the facility and proceed to the appropriate visitation area once inside; only compassionate care and end of life visits are permitted at bedside at this time
  • Please arrive no earlier than 10 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment to allow time for screening
  • Your visit will be scheduled by your loved one's Social Worker
  • One visitor is permitted at a time
  • Pets and children are not permitted to visit at this time
  • No eating or drinking permitted during the visit
  • Indoor visits will be suspended if a positive case is identified among the residents or staff as per the Executive Order
  • Indoor visits will be suspended if the county COVID-19 positive rate is greater than 10%

Visitation Hours:

Monday 10:00am-1:00pm
Tuesday 4:00pm-7:00pm
Wednesday 10:00am-1:00pm
Thursday 10:00am-1:00pm
Friday 10:00am-1:00pm
Saturday 10:00am-1:00pm

The health and wellness of our residents and staff is our highest priority.

Core Principles of COVID-19 Infection Prevention

Upon entry to the facility, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Screening for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including temperature checks, and out of state travel
    • Do not arrive at the facility if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 including cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, chills, shaking with chills, muscle aches, excessive fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or flu-like symptoms
    • Do not arrive at the facility if you have a fever for any reason
    • Do not arrive at the facility if you have traveled to a hot spot state, per Governor’s executive orders, within the last 14 days
    • Do not arrive at the facility if you have COVID-19 test results pending related to symptoms or suspected exposure
  • Use hand sanitizer upon entry to the facility
  • Arrive wearing a facemask and ensure the facemask is worn over your mouth and nose at all times
  • Use hand sanitizer after adjusting facemask
  • Maintain 6-foot physical distancing from others, including loved ones
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or a tissue, repeat use of hand sanitizer

UPDATED 9/30/2020:

DATE:           September 30, 2020

FROM:         Courtney Wood, LNHA, Administrator

TO:               Residents, Families and Friends

RE:               In-Person Indoor Visits to Masonicare Health Center

The decision by the state Department of Public Health to again allow indoor visits with loved ones living in senior care communities is welcome news to Masonicare’s residents, families, and friends. We are working to expand our indoor visitation policy from compassionate care only visits to in-person/indoor visitation with the well-being of our residents, families, and staff foremost in mind.

Since this pandemic began in March, we have taken great care to work in close partnership with the Department of Public Health and other leading agencies, to protect the health of all patients and residents in our care.  As a result of our stringent and consistent efforts, we have maintained one of the best safety records in the state. But there is work to be done. As we begin to open our doors it is vital that we do so in a responsible way. While we understand that you are eager to visit your loved one in person, please know that we want to ensure that happens in a manner that is safe for everyone.

We will be communicating our new safety procedures with residents and family members as soon as they are in place and ask at this time for families and friends to wait for communication from Masonicare Health Center regarding the scheduling of visits, so we can open our doors in a safe, orderly and welcoming fashion. We will be updating our website, www.masonicare.org, regarding these changes to our visitation policy. Please check back frequently for updates. Thank you for your patience while we work together to implement a safe indoor visitation plan.


UPDATED 10/16/2020

Over the last week, Connecticut has experienced a spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases and COVID-related hospitalizations. You may have also heard about recent outbreaks at nursing homes and assisted living communities in Norwich, Colchester, and Avon.

A Masonicare Health Center employee tested positive for the virus last week, prompting us to suspend indoor, in-person visits after just a day, as well as a resident of the Wright Building. We are also seeing an influx of COVID-positive patients on service with Masonicare Home Health & Hospice.

Whether all of the above is evidence of the second wave we’ve been expecting, we can’t say. But it is a sobering reminder that COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon.

Here’s what’s happening around the continuum:

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

One Masonicare Health Center employee remains out with COVID-19. A Wright Building resident who recently tested positive for the virus has been admitted to MHC’s dedicated COVID unit on 4 Central to continue recovery. Other Wright residents who had prolonged, unmasked exposure to that patient have tested negative for COVID but remain under quarantine.

HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES

Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports three COVID-positive patients currently on service. A resident at our ALSA site, Immanuel House, is showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19. The resident was tested yesterday and we are awaiting results. No positive cases have been reported at Masonicare at Home.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

Mandatory weekly testing continues at Masonicare at Ashlar Village and Masonicare at Chester Village. Masonicare at Mystic is continuing once-per-month mandatory testing.

In response to the spike of positive cases in the state, Ashlar Village has taken the proactive step of pausing outside visitation and dining room service.


UPDATED 9/29/2020:

A STATEMENT FROM MASONICARE ON DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH ONCE AGAIN ALLOWING IN-PERSON INDOOR VISITS TO SENIOR CARE COMMUNITIES

WALLINGFORD—Tuesday, September 29, 2020 — The decision by the state Department of Public Health to again allow indoor visits with loved ones living in senior care communities will come as welcome news to Masonicare’s residents and their families. We are working diligently to ensure in-person/indoor visitations will be safe and with the well-being of residents, their families, and our staff foremost in mind.

Since this pandemic began in March, we have taken great care to work in close partnership with DPH to protect the health of all patients and residents in our care and as a result, we have had very few reported COVID-19 cases over the past six months. We will be communicating with family members on new safety procedures as soon as they are in place so we can welcome them back to visit their loved ones safely. We ask that families wait for communication from Masonicare Health Center regarding the scheduling of visitation, so we can open our doors in a safe and orderly fashion. We will be updating our website regarding changes to our visitation policy. Please check back frequently for changes.

Thank you for your patience while work to implement our safe visitation plan.


UPDATED 9/28/2020:

Travel Advisory
Rhode Island was among the states added this week to Connecticut’s Travel Advisory list.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients, and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority. We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.


UPDATED 9/25/2020

Home and Community-Based Services
Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports no COVID-19 positive patients on service or staff out. A Masonicare at Home employee based at Chester Village who had been out on quarantine returned to work this week, but we learned late yesterday that a different MAH employee has tested positive. That person is asymptomatic and now out on quarantine. Testing continues at our external ALSAs with no reported cases among Masonicare employees.

Residential Services
Mandatory weekly testing continues at all communities. Employees out on quarantine last week at Pond Ridge and Masonicare at Mystic have since returned to work. Two additional Pond Ridge staff tested positive for the virus late yesterday. Both are asymptomatic and now out on quarantine.
Masonicare at Chester Village had three Dining Services staff members test positive last week. All were asymptomatic and all took additional tests which came back negative. Unfortunately, CDC guidelines required that much of the kitchen staff – not just those who initially tested positive – go out on quarantine. As you can imagine, that was a big disruption, but Executive Director Annie Hoefferle and her team have all pitched in to make sure the residents don’t miss a meal. Thank you to all - Annie, Matt, Boo, Jillian, Mark, Terri, Deb, Katie, Joe Mike, and Jon for all going above and beyond!


UPDATED 9/9/2020:

Masonicare Health Center Outdoor/Window Visit Criteria

Most MHC residents on negative cohort units are welcome to schedule an outdoor/window visit. 

  • All visitors MUST be screened in the lobby. If visitors have traveled to/from a “hot zone” state, they are not permitted to visit until the 14-day quarantine is completed
  • The maximum number of visitors: Two – no rotating, no exceptions. Children under 2 may be permitted if on the lap of an adult (2 maximum)
  • In an effort to streamline the process and improve customer service, all outdoor/window visit requests must be directed to the Therapeutic Recreation Department at (203) 679-6333
  • A mask must be worn at all times, over the mouth and nose, while on MHC property
  • No eating or drinking permitted during the visit
  • Visitors must remain 6 feet away from residents and staff at all times
  • No pets
  • Visits must be supervised by staff to ensure infection control policies are followed by visitors and residents
  • Inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated
  • If the criteria are not followed, the visit will end and future visits may be affected

This policy is subject to change as the situation evolves. Please follow staff instructions on the day of your visit for the most up-to-date information.

If you don’t feel well on the day of your scheduled visit, please cancel your appointment. Thank you for helping us keep everyone safe!

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority. We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 9/4/2020:

Healthcare Services

There are no new positive test results at Masonicare Health Center to report. Testing at MHC will continue for at least the next two weeks.

Home and Community-Based Services

Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports no staff out with COVID-19 and three COVID-19 positive patients on service, one of whom has been hospitalized. There are no COVID-19 positive staff or clients on service with Masonicare at Home. Testing is on hold at all of our external ALSA sites except The Towers in New Haven.

Residential Services

We are not currently testing at any of our residential communities. No positive cases have been reported.

Flu Vaccine Reminder

We've heard the reports about states being told to prepare to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as early as November. While we can’t speak to the probability of that happening, we CAN urge you to get your flu vaccine as early as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects that COVID-19 infections will keep spreading when the flu season arrives this fall and winter. Catching both infections is possible, so it’s critical to get vaccinated against preventable illnesses, such as the flu.


UPDATED 9/3/2020:

Masonicare Health Center Outdoor/Window Visit Criteria

Most MHC residents on negative cohort units are welcome to schedule an outdoor/window visit. 

  • All visitors MUST be screened in the lobby. If visitors have traveled to/from a “hot zone” state, they are not permitted to visit until the 14-day quarantine is completed
  • The maximum number of visitors: Two – no rotating, no exceptions. Children under 2 may be permitted if on the lap of an adult (2 maximum)
  • In an effort to streamline the process and improve customer service, all outdoor/window visit requests must be directed to the Therapeutic Recreation Department at (203) 679-6333
  • A mask must be worn at all times, over the mouth and nose, while on MHC property
  • No eating or drinking permitted during the visit
  • Visitors must remain 6 feet away from residents and staff at all times
  • No pets
  • Visits must be supervised by staff to ensure infection control policies are followed by visitors and residents
  • Inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated
  • If the criteria are not followed, the visit will end and future visits may be affected

This policy is subject to change as the situation evolves. Please follow staff instructions on the day of your visit for the most up-to-date information.

If you don’t feel well on the day of your scheduled visit, please cancel your appointment. Thank you for helping us keep everyone safe!

Masonicare Reopening Plan

Masonicare's Reopening Plan for our residential communities is now available. Please keep in mind that for each phase of our reopening plan, we will follow both CDC and state guidelines for all residents, staff, and guests for use of masks, and temperature and health screenings. View the plan here. (Please note that a reopening date has not yet been set for Masonicare Health Center.)


UPDATED 8/28/2020:

Healthcare Services
Today, we received word from our testing provider, Griffin Health, that a Masonicare Health Center employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee, who works on 3 Ramage, will be out for at least the next 10 days to quarantine at home.

Outdoor visits will still be available for residents, excluding those on our exposure/observation units, which now include 2 Ramage, 3 Ramage, and 3 Central. We will need to continue testing for at least the next two weeks -- with no new positive results -- in accordance with the state's mandatory testing program.

Home and Community-Based Services
Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports no staff out with COVID-19 and two COVID-19 positive patients on service. There are no COVID-19 positive staff or clients on service with Masonicare at Home. Testing is on hold at all of our external ALSA sites except The Towers in New Haven.

Residential Services
Testing at Masonicare at Chester Village is now paused, following Masonicare at Ashlar Village and Masonicare at Mystic. Reopening plans at all of these communities are underway and include different variations of indoor dining for our residents designed to maintain social distancing.


UPDATED 8/27/2020:

Updates have been made to Masonicare at Mystic's Reopening Plan regarding visitation and indoor dining. You can view the specific updates to the plan here.

Outdoor visits at Masonicare Health Center are available by appointment and weather permitting. All parties must maintain social distancing and wear masks for the duration of the visit. To schedule a visit, family members can contact the Recreation Department at 203-679-6333. Note: the front desk does not have the schedule nor the ability to schedule visits - you must speak to someone in recreation.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority. We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 8/14/2020:

This week, Rhode Island was REMOVED from the list of places that require a 14-day quarantine for people traveling to Connecticut. But, as we’ve seen since the travel advisory was put into place, things can change quickly. We strongly recommend checking the list before making any travel arrangements.

We also received some clarification about the “testing alternative” – the part of the Governor’s Executive Order that states self-quarantine won’t be necessary for someone who can provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in Connecticut. The testing alternative does not apply to health care workers and is only intended for individuals who truly cannot quarantine due to a funeral, end-of-life events, etc.

Here’s what’s happening around the continuum:

Healthcare Services
Masonicare Health Center had one employee test positive for COVID-19 this week. The employee, who is now out on quarantine, last worked Tuesday night. As a result, staff testing must continue for at least the next two weeks. Resident testing will also resume and is scheduled for today, August 17, and August 24.

Home and Community-Based Services
Masonicare Home Health & Hospice reports no staff out with COVID-19 and one COVID-19 positive patient on service. No positive staff or clients on service with Masonicare at Home. At our external ALSA sites, testing is on hold at Welles Country Village, Immanuel House, Virginia Connolly, Fort Hill, St. Jude, and Smithfield Gardens, but continues at Kingsway and The Towers, which recently had one positive test result.

Residential Services
A Masonicare at Chester Village employee is back from 10-day quarantine after a positive test result and two subsequent negative tests. However, another MCV employee tested positive on Monday. As a result, that community will need to continue testing at least through August 24. No positive results have been reported at Ashlar Village or Masonicare at Mystic.


UPDATED 8/13/2020:

Outdoor visits at Masonicare Health Center are available by appointment and weather permitting. All parties must maintain social distancing and wear masks for the duration of the visit. To schedule a visit, family members can contact the Recreation Department at 203-679-6333. Note: the front desk does not have the schedule nor the ability to schedule visits - you must speak to someone in recreation.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority. We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 8/7/2020:

Masonicare is required to be in full compliance with Governor Lamont’s Executive Order requiring COVID-19 testing for all nursing home employees and those in our residential/assisted living communities. Testing continues according to the guidelines set forth in the order.

Healthcare Services 
Masonicare Health Center has one employee still out on quarantine as a precaution. As of this morning, 418 staff test results are in for this week – all negative.


UPDATED 8/6/2020:

Outdoor visits at Masonicare Health Center are available by appointment and weather permitting. All parties must maintain social distancing and wear masks for the duration of the visit. To schedule a visit, family members can contact the Recreation Department at 203-679-6333. Note: the front desk does not have the schedule nor the ability to schedule visits - you must speak to someone in recreation.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority. We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


UPDATED 8/4/2020:

Rhode Island was added to Connecticut's COVID-19 travel advisory list today. As Connecticut's coronavirus numbers have remained low, Rhode Island has experienced a significant surge over the past month, jumping from about 40 new cases a day in early July to more than 100 a day last week. The governor's office said this order does not apply to people who travel to Rhode Island for less than 24 hours or who live in Rhode Island and work in Connecticut. 


UPDATED 8/3/2020:

Outdoor visits at Masonicare Health Center are available by appointment and weather permitting. All parties must maintain social distancing and wear masks for the duration of the visit. To schedule a visit, family members can contact the Recreation Department at 203-679-6333. Note: the front desk does not have the schedule nor the ability to schedule visits - you must speak to someone in recreation.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority. We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 7/31/2020:

This week, Connecticut’s travel advisory was expanded again and now includes 34 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. We know this is vacation season when so many of us look forward to getting away, but we encourage our employee team members to make every effort to avoid visiting areas hard-hit by COVID-19.

With the virus continuing to spread throughout the country, we need to be prepared for a second wave here in Connecticut – a second wave that might coincide with the change of seasons. As we look ahead to the end of summer and the beginning of fall, we’ll need to be extra diligent.

So, along with avoiding unnecessary travel, everyone is asked to continue to WEAR THEIR MASK, WASH THEIR HANDS, and MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING.

Healthcare Services
Testing of employees and residents at Masonicare Health Center continues with two staff members out (one confirmed positive and one with results pending) and no positive results among the resident population.

Residential Services
The testing of employees at our residential communities continues. We learned on Wednesday night that a private duty aide at Chester Village not employed by Masonicare, but working in the service of a resident, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, July 27. MCV has removed the aide from the community and tested the resident (results are still pending). We have no reason to suspect that anyone else at Chester Village was in contact with the aide (who was asymptomatic) or the resident as both were staying in the resident’s apartment at all times. No positive cases have been reported at Ashlar Village or Masonicare at Mystic.


UPDATED 7/30/2020:

Outdoor visits at Masonicare Health Center are available by appointment and weather permitting. All parties must maintain social distancing and wear masks for the duration of the visit. To schedule a visit, family members can contact the Recreation Department at 203-679-6333. Note: the front desk does not have the schedule nor the ability to schedule visits - you must speak to someone in recreation.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 7/24/2020:

This week, Governor Lamont updated his travel advisory to include 31 states where COVID-19 is surging. This includes mandatory, 14-day self-quarantine for travelers from states with high infection or test positivity rates and fines for noncompliance. To avoid mandatory self-quarantine, please continue to avoid any unnecessary travel to any of these locations. Connecticut has made progress in controlling the virus but much of the rest of our country is struggling, so we must stay vigilant.

Healthcare Services 

Testing of employees and residents at Masonicare Health Center continues with two staff members still out and no positive results among the resident population. 

Residential Services 

The testing of employees at our residential communities continues with no positive results reported thus far. 

Home and Community-Based Services 

As of today, Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has two COVID-19 positive patients on service and one employee out. There have been no positive test results at our external ALSA sites during this wave of testing. 


UPDATED 7/23/2020:

Outdoor visits at Masonicare Health Center are available by appointment and weather permitting. All parties must maintain social distancing and wear masks for the duration of the visit. To schedule a visit, family members can contact the Recreation Department at 203-679-6333. Note: the front desk does not have the schedule nor the ability to schedule visits - you must speak to someone in recreation.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 7/17/2020:

The state’s travel advisory has been updated. Not only must travelers self-quarantine for a 14-day period when entering or returning to Connecticut from one of 22 states where COVID-19 is surging, but the quarantine exemption for health care workers has been removed by Governor Lamont. This includes all Masonicare employees. 

States currently on the restricted list include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, *Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, *New Mexico, Nevada, *Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and *Wisconsin (* new additions). 

Again, to avoid mandatory self-quarantine, please avoid any unnecessary travel to any of these locations. Also, please reconsider any plans to host visitors from states currently on this list. Connecticut has done a great job of reducing virus-related hospitalizations in recent weeks and we all need to do our part to keep that positive momentum going. 

Healthcare Services 
At Masonicare Health Center, we had a staff member test positive off-site for the virus and an employee on Day 2 of new-hire orientation who tested positive. Although neither of those employees was in patient-care areas, we will need to extend testing by another two weeks to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order. 

Residential Services 
We had hoped last week that testing of employees in our residential communities would already be underway. It now appears that testing will begin next week (staff in independent living are included in this wave of testing because they regularly interact with employees in assisted living). As of today, there are no reported cases at any of our residential communities or external ALSA sites. 

Home and Community-Based Services 
Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has two COVID-19 positive patients on service and two employees out, one of whom is expected to return today. 


UPDATED 7/16/2020:

Outdoor visits at Masonicare Health Center are available by appointment and weather permitting. All parties must maintain social distancing and wear masks for the duration of the visit. To schedule a visit, family members can contact the Recreation Department at 203-679-6333. Note: the front desk does not have the schedule nor the ability to schedule visits - you must speak to someone in recreation.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 7/10/2020:

Testing Update
In the second week of mandatory COVID-19 testing at Masonicare Health Center, there have been no positive test results among staff or residents. However, because some test samples from the first week were improperly stored and not usable, a third week of testing will be necessary. After that, if there have been no new positive test results for 14 days among either residents or staff, testing of asymptomatic individuals will be suspended.

Next week, to comply with the Governor’s executive order, we will begin testing of employees in our assisted living communities. The process will mirror that at Masonicare Health Center: a minimum of two weeks of testing, after which testing of asymptomatic individuals can end if no one in that community – employee or resident – tests positive for the virus.

Residential and Home and Community-Based Services
There are no COVID-19 cases at any of our residential communities or external ALSA sites, nor any on service with Masonicare at Home. Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has six patients on service who are positive or presumed positive and two staff members out.

DPH: “Wear your mask!”
We know that wearing masks in the summer heat can be uncomfortable. But the word from the Department of Public Health – and Masonicare – is that UNIVERSAL MASKING IS SAVING LIVES. Please continue to wear your mask/face shield, practice social distancing, and wash your hands regularly.


UPDATED 7/9/2020:

Outdoor visits at Masonicare Health Center are available by appointment and weather permitting. All parties must maintain social distancing and wear masks for the duration of the visit. To schedule a visit, family members can contact the Recreation Department at 203-679-6333. Note: the front desk does not have the schedule nor the ability to schedule visits - you must speak to someone in recreation.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 7/6/2020:

As you have no doubt heard, coronavirus cases are increasing in other parts of the country. Those spikes might influence Connecticut’s reopening process, which had been planned for mid to late July. Here at Masonicare, we will continue to take a very slow and cautious approach to reopen to ensure the safety of our residents, patients, and employee team members.

Gov. Ned Lamont instituted a travel advisory stating that anyone traveling to Connecticut from “hot spot” states where the virus is surging will need to self-quarantine for 14 days. Last week, that list of nine states was expanded to 16:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah

Here’s how we’re doing throughout the continuum:

Masonicare Health Center

We are sad to report that an assisted living resident from Pond Ridge who had been on the Sturges 3 isolation unit passed away last Wednesday night. At the current time, there are no patients on the Sturges 3 isolation unit. Building-wide testing continues, and as of today, all results have come back negative.

Residential Services
There are no COVID-19 cases at Masonicare at Ashlar Village, Masonicare at Chester Village, or Masonicare at Mystic.

Home and Community-Based Services
Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has eight patients on service who are COVID-19 positive or presumed positive and two staff members out. There have been no new cases at Masonicare at Home. One ALSA client from The Towers in New Haven who had been testing positive for the virus, though not symptomatic, has returned home from rehab after testing negative.

Healthcare Heroes
Sierra Drevline, Director of Quality and Specialty Programs at MHC, Infection Preventionist Stacey Finch, and Infection Control Nurse Crystal Butler have been doing a tremendous job over the last several months protecting our residents, patients and staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize them for working so diligently on a daily basis to monitor and enforce the latest safety guidelines.


UPDATED 7/2/2020:

Outdoor visits at Masonicare Health Center are available by appointment and weather permitting. All parties must maintain social distancing and wear masks for the duration of the visit. To schedule a visit, family members can contact the Recreation Department at 203-679-6333. Note: the front desk does not have the schedule nor the ability to schedule visits - you must speak to someone in recreation.

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


UPDATED 6/29/2020:

We continue to follow the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare daily for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 6/26/20:

This week, we were focused on preparations for the start of mandatory COVID-19 testing at Masonicare Health Center. Testing will be conducted by Griffin Hospital beginning on Monday, June 29 and will include all Masonicare employees at MHC (including GMPP) and any Masonicare Home Health & Hospice employees or contracted staff who have a regular presence in the facility.

A reminder that this testing is to comply with Gov. Ned Lamont’s Executive Order issued on June 1 requiring all nursing home residents and staff in the state be tested for the duration of this public health crisis. Testing will occur weekly until there have been no new positive test results for 14 days among either residents or staff. Once these criteria are met, testing of asymptomatic residents and staff can be discontinued.

Under the Executive Order, testing for staff in our assisted living communities will occur at some future date. We will share that information with you as it becomes available.

Governor’s Travel Advisory
To reduce the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, Gov. Lamont announced that anyone traveling to Connecticut from one of the nine current “hot spot” states where the virus is surging will need to self-quarantine for 14 days. This advisory does not apply to healthcare workers, but at this time Masonicare strongly urges all employees to refrain from travel to the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah, and Texas.

Masonicare Health Center
There are currently two individuals on the 3 Sturges isolation unit. Any staff previously out have since been cleared to return to work.

An Infection Control Nurse from the State Department of Public Health was on site for three days evaluating and observing all units to make sure PPE is being worn properly and that physical distancing is being maintained. We have been advised that surgical masks are now mandatory for all staff in the building, even those not in patient care areas. Please stay vigilant in wearing your masks on all our campuses.

MHC also had its seventh DPH survey this week and no problems were reported. Great job!

Residential Services
There are no COVID-19 cases at Masonicare at Ashlar Village, Masonicare at Chester Village, or Masonicare at Mystic. All three communities continue to gradually reopen.

Home and Community-Based Services
Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has 11 patients on service who are COVID-19 positive or presumed positive and two staff members out. There have been no new cases at Masonicare at Home. One ALSA client from The Towers in New Haven, currently offsite undergoing rehab, continues to test positive for the virus.


UPDATED 6/25/2020:

We are currently caring for two COVID positive patients on the Sturges 3 isolation unit at MHC. 

Please feel confident that we are continuing to following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


UPDATED 6/24/2020:

Please feel confident that we are continuing to following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We also continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 6/19/2020:

CNA Appreciation Week 
Yesterday, June 18, kicked off CNA Appreciation Week. We know that our affiliates will be marking the occasion in different ways, but we wanted to express our gratitude for the hard work and dedication of these employee team members throughout the year. Our CNAs are critical to the functioning of this organization, providing quality-of-life care at Masonicare Health Center and in our residential communities and relaying vital information about patients' conditions so their patients can get the care they need when they need it. THANK YOU for all you do! 
 
Masonicare Health Center 
There is currently one individual on the 3 Sturges isolation unit, and that person is scheduled for discharge on June 20. Two staff with COVID-19 symptoms are out, pending test results. An Infection Control Nurse from the State Department of Public Health is onsite, evaluating and observing all units to make sure PPE is being worn properly and that physical distancing is being maintained. So far, the visit is going well. 

Residential Services 
One resident of Masonicare at Ashlar Village is currently on the isolation unit at Masonicare Health Center and is scheduled for discharge as indicated above. There have been no new cases reported at Masonicare at Chester Village or Masonicare at Mystic. All three communities are slowly reopening to accommodate safe social activities like outdoor dining. 

Home and Community-Based Services 
Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has 12 patients on service who are COVID-19 positive or presumed positive and two staff members out. There have been no new cases at Masonicare at Home. One ALSA client from The Towers in New Haven, currently offsite undergoing rehab, continues to test positive for the virus.


UPDATED 6/18/2020:

Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 6/12/2020:

Today marks the 100th day since the launch of our Coronavirus Task Force and 78 days since Masonicare had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

At this time, we still don’t know exactly what the state’s mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for all residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living service agencies (ALSAs) and managed residential communities (MRCs) will look like. We do know it will begin this month and that it will be a massive undertaking.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have dropped dramatically, but we still need to be diligent at work, at home, and out in the community to reduce the risk of infection. Almost 70% of all COVID-related deaths in Connecticut have been among residents of nursing homes and assisted living communities ‒ a sobering reminder that the threat to older adults is real and ongoing.

Seeing how hard other organizations have been hit impresses on us how the efforts of all our Masonicare staff to mitigate the impact of this public health crisis have been nothing short of amazing. We have witnessed so many acts of courage and compassion that we are convinced we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.

Masonicare Health Center
There are currently five individuals on the 3 Sturges isolation unit, two of whom are from “in-house” (i.e., long-term care). One MHC employee is still out recovering from COVID-19. Our thanks to the Nursing Administration team for launching a new weekly Q&A conference call to help keep all MHC staff in the loop about the latest coronavirus policies and procedures. 

Residential Services
One resident of Masonicare at Ashlar Village and two residents from the Ashlar Village (Pond Ridge) Assisted Living community are currently on the isolation unit at Masonicare Health Center. Our independent living resident and one from Pond Ridge are on track to return to their homes in the near future. There have been no new cases reported at Masonicare at Chester Village or Masonicare at Mystic.

Home and Community-Based Services
Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has 21 patients on service who are COVID-19 positive or presumed positive and four staff members out. There have been no new cases at Masonicare at Home or reported at our ALSA sites.

Outdoor Visits Begin at MHC
It will likely be September at the earliest before the state allows visitors inside nursing homes. But we’re all aware of the strain that the visitation restrictions are having on our residents and their loved ones. We are pleased that MHC has started facilitating outdoor visits. It’s a labor-intensive process that involves scheduling visits in advance and making sure during visits that physical distancing is maintained and everyone is masked at all times. We know that providing this service to our residents is a lot of work, but we know how much it means to them and to their family members.


UPDATED 6/11/2020:

Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 6/5/2020:

Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order requiring mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing of all residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living service agencies (ALSAs) and managed residential communities (MRCs) will impact all of Masonicare's services lines in ways that we cannot immediately predict. We do know that testing will begin the week of June 14 for skilled nursing facilities, and the week of June 28 for the ALSAs and MRCs. We are waiting for written guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH) about how this testing will be implemented and will share that information with you as soon as it’s available. 

Across the state, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to drop steadily. That is an encouraging sign. But as Connecticut surpasses 43,000 confirmed cases and the 4,000 mark for virus-related deaths, we need to continue to be vigilant. The state’s most vulnerable residents are among those we serve, and they are relying on us to keep them safe and healthy. 

COVID-19 Update by Service Line 
Masonicare Health Center, which currently has eight individuals on its Sturges 3 isolation unit and one employee out on quarantine, was notified by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) this week that it has retained infection control support nurses to assist in monitoring and supporting all COVID-19 affected nursing homes. These Registered Nurses will arrive unannounced to help reinforce infection prevention and control during the pandemic and to make sure we’re providing the highest quality of care. 

Two residents of Pond Ridge Assisted Living continue to recover from COVID-19 in the isolation unit at MHC. There are no cases at Masonicare at Chester Village or Masonicare at Mystic. 

Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has 29 patients on service who are COVID-19 positive or presumed positive, the majority of whom are in the Greater Hartford area. Three MHHH employees remain out on quarantine. At our congregate ALSA sites, one employee is out recovering from the virus and one client at The Towers in New Haven is being treated for COVID-19 at a local hospital. There are no Masonicare at Home staff currently out, and one client – a Pond Ridge resident – continues to recuperate at MHC.


UPDATED 6/3/2020:

On Monday, June 1, Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order requiring mandatory weekly testing of all staff of nursing homes, assisted living service agencies (ALSAs) and managed residential communities (MRCs) for the duration of this public health and civil preparedness emergency. Testing will begin the week of June 14 for skilled nursing facilities, and the week of June 28 for the ALSAs and MRCs.

The state is driving this testing program, which promises to be a massive logistical undertaking that will impact all of our service lines. We are waiting for written guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH) about how this testing will be implemented.

Additionally, although we are seeing a gradual reopening of some businesses in Connecticut and social gatherings outdoors, Masonicare stresses the importance of continuing to take all the precautions -- at work, at home, and out in the community -- that has been proven to reduce the risk of infection. We are caring for individuals who are the most vulnerable during this pandemic, and we don't want to put them at risk by bringing COVID-19 into their homes.

All employee staff members are reminded that continued diligence in the practice of proper hand hygiene, wearing masks in public, and maintaining social distancing (even outdoors) is important as our residents and patients are counting on us!

our reopening plan, we will follow both CDC and state guidelines for all residents, staff and guests for use of masks, and temperature and health screenings.


UPDATED 6/2/2020:

Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 5/29/2020:

Masonicare Health Center COVID Isolation Unit: There are currently seven individuals on the Sturges 3 isolation unit, of whom six are from long-term care. There are also four employees out recovering from or awaiting test results for COVID-19.

Residential Services: Pond Ridge welcomed another resident back from MHC yesterday. One resident from our memory care community is on the isolation unit at MHC to continue recuperating from COVID-19. A Masonicare at Mystic employee who had tested positive is now healthy and back at work. There have been no reported cases at Masonicare at Chester Village.

Home and Community-Based Services: Masonicare Home Health & Hospice (MHHH) has cared for 108 individuals who are or were COVID-19 positive/presumed positive, including 36 currently on service. Four MHHH employees are out recovering from the virus. Two employees of Masonicare at Home and three at our ALSA sites who tested positive or pending for COVID-19 are out and recovering at home (a fourth ALSA team member tested negative and is due to return soon). One client at our ALSA site in New Haven has tested positive and is receiving care off-site.

COVID-19 Testing: What’s Next?
Based on our conversations with the Department of Public Health and LeadingAge, it is expected that the next phase of mandatory testing will focus on assisted living residents. No timetable has been set yet for testing of nursing home staff. Reflecting the national shortage of supplies, there simply aren’t enough test kits available yet to test employees. Of course, we will notify you of any changes.


UPDATED 5/28/2020:

All of our 312 residents at Masonicare Health Center were tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday. We are pleased to report that ALL nursing home residents and behavioral health patients (GMPP) tested NEGATIVE with the exception of two tests that had to be retaken (results expected later today). We are still waiting for the retest results of those residents on our 3 Sturges isolation unit, but those were for discharge purposes.

Thank you to the entire MHC team for doing an exceptional job in containing the coronavirus.  The efforts of all our Masonicare staff have been nothing short of amazing.

Additionally, this morning DPH and the National Guard were on-site for their fifth survey of the Health Center. Again, they came away impressed and had no recommendations


UPDATED 5/27/2020:

Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated. 

BLANKET COVID-19 TESTING: Following guidance from the White House, the State of Connecticut has launched an initiative to test all nursing home residents across the state. Resident testing took place yesterday. As of today, with 99% of the test results back, we have no COVID-19 positive residents or patients outside of the ones already under our care in the isolation unit.

We are currently reassigning rooms to residents of Ramage 2, who have tested negative but currently reside on this unit which is being utilized as our observation unit. New or readmitted residents are admitted to this unit for fourteen days of observation and presumed positive until the observation period has expired.


UPDATED 5/26/2020:

Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.

BLANKET COVID-19 TESTING: Following guidance from the White House, the State of Connecticut has launched an initiative to test all nursing home residents across the state. Resident testing took place today at Masonicare Health Center and we expect that employee testing will occur in the near future.


UPDATE 5/22/2020:

The State of Connecticut is mandating that all nursing home residents across the state be tested for COVID-19. Resident testing at Masonicare Health Center will occur on Tuesday, May 26th. The Department of Public Health is working on a plan for staff testing at a future date. 

PLEASE REMEMBER that although we are seeing a gradual reopening of some businesses in Connecticut, it’s important that we continue to practice good hand hygiene, wear masks in public, maintain social distancing, and do all the things that have been proven to reduce the risk of infection. Our residents and patients are counting on us to keep them healthy and safe! 

Here’s where we stand as of now:

Masonicare Health Center: There are currently 9 individuals on the Sturges 3 isolation unit, of whom six are from long-term care. There are also five employees recovering from or awaiting test results for COVID-19 at home. 

Residential Services: Three residents from our memory care community at Ashlar Village are on the isolation unit at Masonicare Health Center to continue recuperating from COVID-19. One Masonicare at Mystic employee, who had tested positive for the virus, has been medically cleared and returned to work. There have been no confirmed cases at Masonicare at Chester Village. 

Home and Community Based Services: Masonicare Home Health & Hospice currently has 47 patients on service who are either COVID-19 positive or presumed positive. Of those, the majority are receiving hospice care. Six Masonicare Home Health & Hospice employees are out recovering from the virus, of which two are expected to be cleared to return to work next week. 

One employee of Masonicare at Home and five at our ALSA sites who tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering at home. One client receiving assisted living services at our ALSA site in New Haven, The Towers, has tested positive and is receiving care off-site. 

Welcome Home! 
Some good news to report: our first COVID-19 case from Ashlar Village, and a memory care resident, who had been on the isolation unit at MHC, both returned home this week. It was a long road from diagnosis to recovery for these residents, and we thank everyone at Ashlar Village, Masonicare Health Center, and Masonicare Home Health who accompanied them on that journey. 

Another Successful Survey 
Masonicare Health Center received another visit from a state surveyor and a National Guardsman today, the third visit in 13 days. They toured some of the nursing units and checked our PPE inventory. The surveyor and Guardsman shared many positive comments on how well we are doing. Thank you to our Interim Administrator and Assistant Director of Nursing and the entire team for a job well done. We are better together and we’re extremely proud of everyone’s efforts during this challenging time. 

Face Shield Donation 
We were surprised and grateful when the BIC Corporation of Milford reached out to us with an offer to donate 2,500 face shields to Masonicare. BIC has joined the list of companies whose generosity has helped get us through a challenging shortage of PPE.


UPDATED 5/21/2020:

Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.

BLANKET COVID-19 TESTING: Following guidance from the White House, the State of Connecticut is launching an initiative to test all nursing home residents across the state. We have been informed that resident testing will occur on Tuesday, May 26. We are still working out the details, but we are contracting with an outside company to assist our own fit-tested staff. Although there are currently only enough supplies to test residents, we do expect that the state will provide for employee testing in the near future.


UPDATED 5/20/2020:

An update from our President & CEO:



Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.

BLANKET COVID-19 TESTING: Following guidance from the White House, the State of Connecticut is launching an initiative to test all nursing home residents across the state. We have been informed that resident testing will occur on Tuesday, May 26. We are still working out the details, but we are contracting with an outside company to assist our own fit-tested staff. Although there are currently only enough supplies to test residents, we do expect that the state will provide for employee testing in the near future.


UPDATED 5/19/2020:

RESIDENTS: Our isolation unit on 3 Sturges is providing care to 11 individuals, including seven from long-term care and four from Masonicare at Ashlar Village/Pond Ridge Assisted Living.

SURVEY RESULTS: On Saturday, Masonicare Health Center had a second visit from the Department of Public Health and officers from the National Guard. They conducted a walkthrough of the entire building and had no recommendations.

BLANKET COVID-19 TESTING: Following guidance from the White House, the State of Connecticut is launching an initiative to test all nursing home residents across the state. We have been informed that resident testing will occur on Tuesday, May 26. We are still working out the details, but we are contracting with an outside company to assist our own fit-tested staff. Although there are currently only enough supplies to test residents, we do expect that the state will provide for employee testing in the near future.


UPDATED 5/18/2020:

Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


WEEKLY UPDATE 5/15/2020:

Over the past week, several Masonicare locations and ALSA sites received surprise visits from state Department of Public Health surveyors accompanied by officers from the Connecticut National Guard. In every instance, the surveyors were complimentary of the efforts we are undertaking to limit the risk of exposure to our residents and staff.

You may have heard about the recommendation that all nursing home residents and staff members be tested for the coronavirus. There are many details to sort out, like the number of test kits we should expect to receive, the logistics of blanket testing, staffing needs, etc. We will be sure to communicate this information as soon as it’s available. Please keep in mind; however, that this initiative is being driven by the State of Connecticut, not Masonicare.

The gradual “reopening” of the state may begin soon, but we are committed to keeping precautionary measures in place at all locations.

Here’s where we stand as of today:

Masonicare Health Center
There are currently 11 individuals on the Sturges 3 isolation unit. There are also five employees out recovering from or awaiting test results for COVID-19.

Residential Services
One resident from Masonicare at Ashlar Village Assisted Living and three from the memory care community are on the isolation unit at MHC to continue recuperating from COVID-19. There is one Masonicare at Mystic employee out on leave who tested positive for the virus. There have been no confirmed cases at Masonicare at Chester Village.

Home and Community-Based Services
To date, Masonicare Home Health & Hospice has cared for over 100 patients who were COVID-19 positive or presumed positive. As of today, the agency’s COVID-related caseload is 66. There are currently seven MHHH employees who tested positive for the virus remaining home. One employee of Masonicare at Home and three at our ALSA sites who tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering at home.

“Thank You” Flags Are Up
The heart logo that has become a symbol of hope and gratitude here at Masonicare is now waving on flags outside MHC and at each of our residential communities. Along with Masonicare Board of Trustees Chairman Bob Polito, we want everyone to know how much we appreciate our healthcare heroes. Thank you for being Masonicare Strong!


UPDATED 5/14/2020:

Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents and patients within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


UPDATED 5/13/2020:

An update from our President & CEO:



UPDATED 5/12/2020:

As of today, there are 11 patients on the Sturges 3 isolation unit at Masonicare Health Center receiving care and being monitored for symptoms of COVID-19.

Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.

We continue to monitor all residents within Masonicare for signs and symptoms and test for COVID-19 when medically indicated.


UPDATED 5/7/2020:

An update from our President & CEO:



Please feel confident that we are following the strictest COVID-19 infection control protocols recommended by both the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The safety of our residents, patients and employee team members always has been and continues to be our priority.  We continue to work tirelessly in our efforts to contain and control this virus, and we greatly appreciate your support during this time.


UPDATED 5/6/2020:

As of today, there are 11 patients on the Sturges 3 isolation unit at Masonicare Health Center receiving care and being monitored for symptoms of COVID-19.

We will continue to be vigilant in our safety protocols and guidelines to preserve the health of our fellow staff and residents, and we continue to remain on the cutting-edge of federal and local safety recommendations. 


UPDATED 5/4/2020:

As of today, May 4th, a total of 20 residents of Ramage 3 at Masonicare Health Center have tested COVID-19 negative and a total of 5 have tested positive. All residents who have tested positive were immediately transferred to the Sturges 3 isolation unit where they are receiving care and being monitored for symptoms of the virus.

One resident of Masonicare at Ashlar Village's Pond Ridge Memory Care Unit is being discharged from the hospital this afternoon to the Sturges 3 isolation unit for continued monitoring. Out of an abundance of caution, all residents on the Pond Ridge Memory Care Unit are being tested for COVID-19. Families will be notified of the test results and any resident that tests positive will be transferred to the Sturges 3 isolation Unit at MHC for care and monitoring.

We want to reiterate that the health & safety of our residents and employee team members is our main priority and we are continuing to do everything within our power to mitigate the risk of exposure to the rest of the community and staff.


UPDATED 5/1/2020:

On May 1, 2020, we learned that a resident of Masonicare Health Center’s Ramage 3 Unit, who had been experiencing fever and chills, tested positive for COVID-19. The resident was immediately transferred to the Sturges 3 isolation unit where they are receiving care. This unit allows residents to receive care in a safe and supportive environment while mitigating the risk of exposure to other residents of our community.

This is our first positive case of a resident in our long-term care facility and while unsettling, we want to assure our residents, families, and friends that as an organization we continue to work daily to ensure the health & safety of our residents and employee team members. Out of an abundance of caution, all residents on the Ramage 3 Unit will be swabbed and tested for COVID-19. Any positive cases will be immediately transferred to Sturges 3 where they will be closely monitored and cared for.


UPDATED 4/30/2020:

An update from our President & CEO:



The following policies and procedures have been in place since mid-March and will remain in effect until further notice​​:

Visitation – No visitation is allowed except in the case of end-of-life care, and in these special cases, visitors must undergo screening as outlined below. All employee team members, third-party vendors and providers must enter through a single main entrance at our communities, health center and other offices. 

Screening - All employee team members, third-party vendors and providers undergo mandatory screening, which includes a thorough exposure questionnaire and daily temperature scan, prior to the start of every shift. All personnel who enter our buildings are also required to wear, at a minimum, a cloth mask. All direct caregivers are required to wear surgical masks.

Deliveries – All deliveries must be left at the main entrances of each of our facilities. In cases where an order has been placed by or on behalf of a resident who needs assistance with transporting their delivery to their apartment, we ask that the resident or party placing the order contact the main number of their facility and inform the staff member on duty the details of the delivery, including:

  • The name and a contact number of the person who placed the order
  • The name and location of the resident the delivery is addressed to
  • The date and time the delivery is expected
  • If the intended recipient requires assistance in accepting and getting the items to their living accommodations

UPDATED 4/16/2020:

In addition to actively performing daily screening of residents, patients, employees and healthcare providers, Masonicare Health Center is actively testing symptomatic residents and patients as indicated. Our 30-bed unit located in the Sturges building which formerly served as an acute care unit has been designated as an isolation unit for the purposes of segregating individuals who have been diagnosed and are recovering from COVID-19. Residents who are waiting for test results are placed in a private isolation room and transferred to the isolation unit should they test positive.  To date, Masonicare Health Center, the continuum’s 357-bed skilled nursing center has not had a resident test positive for COVID-19.

This is a serious, rapidly evolving situation affecting every community, hospital and nursing home across the nation. We are adapting to new developments every day, and we will continue to find ways to address these unprecedented challenges. Our COVID-19 Task Force remains in communication with state and local agencies regarding all efforts to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our residents, patients and employees. We continue to collaborate with provider associations and agencies to advocate for increased funding and recognition as a priority provider in need of personal protective equipment and test supplies.

As the state’s largest not-for-profit senior healthcare continuum, our first and most important priority is the on-going safety and well-being of our residents and employee team members. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure a safe and COVID-free environment while continuing to advocate for support for our industry that cares for the most vulnerable population in the state. 


UPDATED 4/15/2020:

Precautions and screening processes across the Masonicare organization are in effect and will remain in place until there is no longer an imminent threat of exposure to the virus. All employee team members, third-party vendors and providers must enter through a single main entrance at our communities, health center and other offices. In addition, they undergo a daily screening, which includes a thorough exposure questionnaire and daily temperature scan, prior to the start of every shift. All personnel who enter our buildings are required to wear, at a minimum, a cloth mask. All direct caregivers are required to wear surgical masks.


UPDATED 4/14/2020:

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across the state, the potential risk of exposure to healthcare workers also increases. Understanding from the onset of this pandemic, the very real possibility that our employee team members may be exposed to and test positive for the COVID-19 virus, we have put in place stringent precautionary procedures to reduce the risk of exposure.  To date, despite our company-wide efforts, we have confirmation of several employees throughout our various service lines that have in fact tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

We want to assure everyone that our employee team members who have tested positive, as well as those awaiting test results, are at home abiding by the CDC quarantine guidelines.  Additionally, we are carefully tracing all potential exposure risks associated with these cases and communicating any risks to our residents, patients, families, and other staff members. 

All of our restrictions, screening precautions and safety measures remain in place, including mandatory personal protective equipment such as cloth masks for all employees and surgical masks for direct caregivers. We are confident that we can continue to minimize exposure to all those in our care and to all of our employee team members who so tirelessly provide the services and care you’ve come to expect.

Questions may be directed to our HelpLine via email at info@masonicare.org or by calling 888-679-9997.


UPDATED 4/13/2020:

Precautions and screening processes across the Masonicare organization are in effect and will remain in place until there is no longer an imminent threat of exposure to the virus. All employee team members, third-party vendors and providers must enter through a single main entrance at our communities, health center and other offices. In addition, they undergo a daily screening, which includes a thorough exposure questionnaire and daily temperature scan, prior to the start of every shift. All personnel who enter our buildings are required to wear, at a minimum, a cloth mask. All direct caregivers are required to wear surgical masks.


UPDATED 4/10/2020:

Precautions and screening processes across the Masonicare organization are in effect and will remain in place until there is no longer an imminent threat of exposure to the virus. All employee team members, third-party vendors and providers must enter through a single main entrance at our communities, health center and other offices. In addition, they undergo a daily screening, which includes a thorough exposure questionnaire and daily temperature scan, prior to the start of every shift. All personnel who enter our buildings are required to wear, at a minimum, a cloth mask. All direct caregivers are required to wear surgical masks.

At Masonicare Health Center, we have introduced electronic screening which makes the process more efficient and streamlined. Thank you to all our staff who have been diligent and patient throughout the process.

Masonicare has been fortunate to receive donations of PPE from various sources, including Quinnipiac University, the Wallingford Fire Department and Mobile Electronics - as well as the many homemade masks sewn by our own residents and staff. Thank you!


UPDATED 4/9/2020:

Precautions and screening processes across the Masonicare organization are in effect and will remain in place until there is no longer an imminent threat of exposure to the virus. All employee team members, third-party vendors and providers must enter through a single main entrance at our communities, health center and other offices. In addition, they undergo a daily screening, which includes a thorough exposure questionnaire and daily temperature scan, prior to the start of every shift. All personnel who enter our buildings are required to wear, at a minimum, a cloth mask. All direct caregivers are required to wear surgical masks.


UPDATED 4/8/2020:

In accordance with the State of Connecticut Governor’s executive order, with the start of Passover today and Easter on Sunday, we are strongly advising family and residents to shelter in place and to avoid leave of absence holiday visits for your loved ones. This is a critical time in the social distancing effort and with the number of positive COVID-19 cases growing, we are urging families to restrain from home visits and outings during this time and until further notice. We wish you all a safe and healthy holiday.


At Masonicare Health Center our precautions and screening processes remain in effect and will remain in place until there is no longer an imminent threat of exposure to the virus. In addition to the screening of all employees and third-party vendors and providers we are now requiring all personnel who enter the building to wear at minimum a cloth mask. All direct caregivers are required to wear surgical masks.

Thank you for your continued understanding and support while we work to keep our residents and employees safe. We will continue to keep you updated and as always encourage you to call us directly if you have any questions or concerns. 


UPDATED 4/6/2020:

A note from Peter Morris, VP of Residential Services and Hospitality:

I am deeply saddened to confirm the passing of a member of our Pond Ridge community as a result of complications from the COVID-19 virus.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this most difficult time. As we watch the COVID-19 pandemic unfold, the passing of one of our own is a devastating blow as we are working diligently to protect our employee team members and the residents in our care.

Our resident, who was a member of our Assisted Living community, was admitted to the hospital on April 1st, where she was treated for symptoms of the virus and passed on April 2nd. Our heart goes out to the family and employee team members who loved and cared for her.

While we work to understand the impact of this virus, please know that we continue to take the highest level of precautions possible. In fact, Masonicare at Ashlar Village has and will continue to enforce the strictest precautions and restrictions in the industry, with our residents and employees’ health and well-being remaining as our primary focus. We assure you that we are working to keep our community safe, but it will take all of us, working together to make that happen.

As changes to our protocol occur, I will keep you informed.


UPDATED 4/3/2020:

Yesterday we learned that a resident of Assisted Living (Pond Ridge) at Masonicare at Ashlar Village tested positive for COVID-19. The resident was admitted to a local hospital and remains in the hospital where they are being treated for the symptoms associated with the virus.

While this is our second positive case on our Wallingford campus, it is important to note that they are separate and isolated occurrences, as the two residents who tested positive have no connection to one another, and live in separate areas of our residential community. As a result, there was no cross over of staff or complimentary services. With that said, our restrictions and precautionary measures remain in effect as we work to maintain the health and safety or our residents and staff. 

Our thoughts are with both of our residents and their families – as well as all those we care for. We understand this is a difficult time for all and we want you to know that we are doing everything in our power to provide a safe environment.

We want to express our gratitude to our frontline staff for their unwavering commitment to the health of all our residents.

As always, we will continue to update you as information becomes available.


UPDATED 3/28/2020:

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise across the state, our precautions and screening processes remain in full force across all of our communities.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we activated a series of protections aimed at mitigating the threat at all of our communities. These included restricting visitors, daily screenings of all employees and vendors who entered the facility, and daily monitoring of all patients and residents in our care. These measures remain in place and will continue until there is no longer an imminent threat of exposure to the virus.

This morning we were notified that an independent living resident from Masonicare at Ashlar Village tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated at a local hospital for symptoms of the virus.

In response to this development, Masonicare at Ashlar Village has increased precautions that include an immediate request for all residents to shelter in place until further notice. All meals and other necessities will be provided in a modified manner.

As always, the continued safety of our residents and employee team members remains our highest priority. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.


UPDATED 3/26/2020:

While there continue to be no known cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at Masonicare, we are remaining diligent in our efforts to maintain the safety and health of our residents, patients, families and employee team members. We continue to follow all necessary precautions and protocols in compliance with the CDC, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, and other state and federal agencies. We will continue to keep you updated on any new developments.


UPDATED 3/23/2020:

Masonicare is continuing to monitor COVID-19 and its impact on our communities. Please note that Governor Lamont’s new 'Stay Safe, Stay Home' executive order does not apply to our essential healthcare operations including “hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, elder care and home healthcare workers,” assuring that your loved ones will continue to receive the highest standard of care and service that we provide each and every day.

Our first priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our residents, patients and employee team members. Also in keeping with "Stay Safe, Stay Home' instructions, we have suspended our window visits at Masonicare Health Center until further notice. We will continue to keep you updated on any new developments.


UPDATED 3/19/2020:

An update from our President & CEO


Our senior leadership remains committed to our mission to do everything we can to maintain the health and safety of our residents, patients and employee team members.  Additionally, efforts continue to keep residents, patients and families engaged and informed. To that end, here are some of the ways in which we have adapted:

  • Staff are making calls and enabling video chat via FaceTime, Skype or other technologies
  • The dining experience has shifted to in-room vs. the dining room(s)
  • Limiting group gatherings, the recreation teams have developed modified social activities that can be experienced room to room

Many of our families, friends and employees have asked how they can help and we will continue to provide ideas and tips over the coming days.

Again, we thank you for your understanding and patience during this very difficult time.


UPDATED 3/18/2020:

We are continually screening our employee team members in accordance with CDC guidelines to protect our patients and residents, and we will continue to update you daily as the situation develops.

As we are constantly sharing important information about COVID-19 and reminders on the best ways to reduce the risk of infections, below is a link to guidelines released by The White House.

15 Days to Slow the Spread


UPDATED 3/17/2020:

COVID-19 Precautions at Masonicare at Ashlar Village, Masonicare at Chester Village, Masonicare at Mystic, Wright, Well, Johnson and Hawkins Apartments
 
During this unprecedented public health crisis, we at Masonicare want you to know we are dedicated to the health and safety of our residents and employees.
 
After thoughtful consideration and discussion, we have decided to suspend all community activities and congregation in common areas, including dining venues. Delivery dining options will be made available at each community in accordance with the direction of the respective executive director or administrator. Additionally, we have decided that, in the best interest of our residents, we will restrict any and all visitors, except in special cases for residents under Hospice care or receiving care for end of life. We understand the hardship this may pose to residents and families and, for that reason, the decision to move in this direction wasn't made lightly.
 
We appreciate your patience and understanding during this challenging time for our communities. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your community’s executive director or Administrator.


UPDATED 3/12/2020:

An important message from our President & CEO

While there continue to be no active cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at Masonicare, we are remaining diligent in our efforts to maintain the safety and health of our residents, patients, families and employee team members. Our main focus at this time is prevention. Watch this message from Masonicare President and CEO, JP Venoit, for more information about how we are responding to COVID-19.


UPDATED 3/11/2020:

While there continue to be no active cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at Masonicare, we are remaining diligent in our efforts to maintain the safety and health of our residents, patients, families and employee team members. Our main focus at this time is prevention.

Earlier this week, we complied with the State of Connecticut DPH's mandate to restrict visitors to our skilled nursing facility. Today, with everyone's best interest in mind and per new guidelines from LeadingAge, we are erring on the side of caution and have instituted precautionary screening measures at our senior living communities.

We are regularly updating Masonicare residents and family members; however, should you have any questions please reach out to your respective administrative team.

Thank you for your understanding and patience while we navigate this situation together.


UPDATED 03/10/2020:

In conjunction with the Department of Public Health’s directive to restrict all visitors except those with family members with extreme health conditions such as end-of-life care, we are restricting all visitors to Masonicare Health Center in Wallingford, CT, until further notice. While there are no cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) at Masonicare, we are acting proactively and in the best interest of our residents, patients, families and employee team members. Visitors who meet the criteria for visitation and are seeking entry into the facility will be required to undergo a pre-entry screening. 


While we understand these restrictions can be difficult, we are working to provide a variety of options that will allow our residents to visit with loved ones via video technologies such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and others. 
 
Thank you in advance for your understanding and support while we work to keep our residents and employees safe. We will continue to keep you updated and as always encourage you to call us directly if you have any questions or concerns. 
 

State of Connecticut Department of Public Health Visitor Restrictions - Directive to Nursing Homes


UPDATED 03/09/2020: 

While there are no cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at Masonicare, following Department of Public Health (DPH) guidelines and out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to restrict visits to Masonicare Health Center in Wallingford until further notice. The only exception to this is in the event of extreme health conditions, such as hospice or end of life care. We will begin pre-entry screening of all visitors who meet these criteria, prior to allowing access to the facility.

Again, no diagnosis of coronavirus has been made at any of our facilities. We are acting proactively and in the best interest of our residents, patients and families as per state recommended guidelines.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and support while we work to keep our residents and employees safe.


While the news about the coronavirus in the United States is still developing, Masonicare wants to assure everyone that in the unlikely event of an outbreak within our communities, we are fully prepared.

The health, safety and peace of mind of our communities are our number one priority. Our frontline teams are fully educated and trained and we are well stocked with all of the appropriate preventative and protective items needed to conduct business as usual. We are taking standard precautions such as:

  • Monitoring and taking direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and other local officials
  • Educating staff and visitors on our policies regarding coming to work or visiting our communities in the event they are experiencing symptoms
  • Ensuring our emergency procedures and protocols are documented and adhered to

Please take a moment to watch the short video below for helpful advice on the do’s and don’ts to help prevent the spread of this and other flu-like respiratory illnesses.

 

Facts vs. Myths COVID-19

Fact: Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, similar to influenza

Myth: Heat can kill the virus - Hand dryers & UV lamps can't kill the virus

Fact: Frequent handwashing is still the number one way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as coronavirus

Myth: Never open a package from China - The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that packages from China are safe
 

Fact: The CDC recommends avoiding or canceling all nonessential travel to China and extra caution for travel to South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan

Myth: You need to wear a mask - According to the CDC, people who are well do not need to wear face masks. Face masks should be worn only by those who are showing symptoms or who have the illness in order to protect others from being infected

Fact: At present, there is no evidence to suggest that domestic/pet dogs and cats can spread the virus

Myth: Eating a lot of garlic will help prevent coronavirus – while garlic is considered a healthy food with some antimicrobial properties, there are no indications it helps in the prevention of COVID-19

As we continue to gather more information, we will share it here.  Please check back often for updates and need-to-know information. In the meantime, we’ve provided the links below with additional resources:

CDC Fact Sheet: What you need to know (English)
CDC Fact Sheet: What you need to know (Spanish)

CDC Fact Sheet: What to do if you are sick with COVID-19 (English)
CDC Fact Sheet: What to do if you are sick with COVID-19 (Spanish)

CDC General Information
World Health Organization Information
CDC Information for Healthcare Professionals