COVID-19 Update

July 29, 2021
Categories: Wellness | Community Updates

To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #64 | Dated: 7-29-21

Good Morning –

We’ve been getting some questions about the rise of the Delta variant of the COVID virus; some are concerned that the world may regress to the early, scary days of the pandemic. Not to worry, as that is NOT the case here at Sterling Estates.

As we have done throughout the pandemic, we continue to partner with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) to confirm we have all the latest data and guidance to ensure the safety of our residents, their loved ones and staff. Our policies and procedures including universal mask wearing for staff and visitors, mandatory/regular screening for staff and visitors, daily cleanings and routine testing for unvaccinated staff have and continue to keep our communities safe.

The Delta variant is creating what many are calling “the pandemic of the unvaccinated” which has caused the CDC to update their guidance for vaccinated individuals as there has been an increase in transmission of the virus across the country. That updated guidance can be found here and is in line with the current DPH Long Term Care guidance and conforms to Sterling’s current policies and procedures. 

That said, we wanted to remind each of you that although we continue to be uniquely suited to keep you and your loved ones Safe & Social amid the uncertainty of this latest phase of the pandemic, we must all continue to stay steadfast and diligent in following both Sterling and the DPH’s guidance. This includes: (1) when visiting, be sure to wear your mask (a surgical mask for those who are vaccinated and a KN-95 or above for those unvaccinated); and (2) make sure that you are screened prior to entering the building.

Also, please continue to make informed and safe decisions regarding travel and measure the risk your decisions can pose to those who are at risk (namely the elderly/immunocompromised). If you should have any questions or concerns about this latest phase of the pandemic and/or our policies and procedures, do not hesitate to reach out.

We’re proud of the track record we’ve established together thus far and remain confident that we will continue to help keep you and your loved ones Safe & Social here at Sterling Estates.

If anyone you know who has yet to be vaccinated and now has a desire to be so, please let us know as we continue to have ample supplies of the Moderna vaccine.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team 


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #63 | Dated: 7-08-21

Good Afternoon –

We hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones doing well. As the positivity rate continues to decline as more and more individuals are fully vaccinated, we wanted to update you on a change to our visitation policy.

 

For those residents and their visitors who are fully vaccinated, visits outside of our regular visiting hours can now take place. Your fobs are now active and can be used to enter the building before 6:45am and after 7pm.

 

We ask that if you do use your fob to enter the building, you continue to check in at the front desk where you will self-screen if no staff member is present and sign in on our standard sign in form.

 

For those visitors that are not fully vaccinated, visits will take place during our normal operating hours from 9am – 5pm, including weekends and will be supported by our staff.

 

If you do not have a fob and you need one, please reach out to our front desk staff during normal business hours.

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

 

Have a great end to your week,

 

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team

 


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #63 | Dated: 3-26-21

Good Afternoon –

We are excited to follow up on our last communication regarding our plan to continue to unwind our policies and procedures tied to our response to the pandemic. This past week the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) adopted the guidance that was previously released by both the CDC and CMS. This updated guidance for Long Term Care Facilities can be found here.

Based on this updated guidance and due to our successful vaccination program, we are now able to adopt the least restrictive policies as articulated by the DPH for those who are fully vaccinated. That said, this is not a complete return to the pre-pandemic world but is a renewal of what helps make Sterling Estates a unique community.

These updated policies and procedures summarized below (and detailed further here), are meant to relax many of our current policies/procedures while still ensuring we do what we can to keep those most at risk safe. These updated policies put much of the responsibility now on you and your loved ones as opposed to squarely on Sterling Estates. With that, please find a summary of these updates below:  

  • Visitation Policies: We are moving from limited visitations to now supported visitations
    • Outdoor visits are still the preferred/safest visitation procedure
    • For those residents and their visitors who are fully vaccinated, visits can begin to take place in a resident’s apartment / cottage as opposed to our designated indoor meeting space. These visits will take place during our normal operating hours from 9am – 5pm, including weekends. We can only support visits during these hours at this time.
    • For those who are still unvaccinated, these visits will occur outdoors or in our designated indoor meeting area.
    • All visitors will continue to be screened prior to their visit; these screens will occur at our front desk in the Landmark building. Proof of full vaccination (e.g., CDC vaccination card) should be provided and all visitors will be required to sign in.
  • Off campus trips:
    • For vaccinated residents, non-essential or non-medical trips should be limited but are now possible. Families and loved ones of residents who would like to take their loved ones off campus should coordinate with the community.
    • For unvaccinated residents, off-site visits should continue to be limited to essential trips.
    • Sterling Estates will again offer off campus activities for our fully vaccinated residents. These will take place in appropriate settings: outside, small crowds and with the ability to maintain social distancing.
  • For our Independent Residents: ALL amenities are open starting Monday, March 29th
    • Residents will again be able to eat either lunch or dinner in our main dining room and will be able to participate in our group activities.
      • We will cohort our independent residents together during these activities.
    • The salon is open for appointments for all residents (following all DPH guidance)
    • The Wellness Center in the Landmark building is open for our independent residents from: 10:30 – 11:45am and 3:30 – 4:30pm each day.
    • Along with these gym hours our independent residents are still able to use our therapeutic pool and starting March 29th the locker rooms as well.

 We couldn’t be more excited to have many of you back in our community. That said, if we do experience an outbreak of the virus or the situation changes in Cobb County, we will again have to review our policies and procedures and will likely be forced to return to our more limited posture.

Also, if you have yet to be fully vaccinated, we are planning on hosting an additional vaccine clinic at Sterling Estates of West Cobb on April 9th. If you are interested in this clinic, please complete the survey found here.

We are looking forward to “turning the page” with each of you to this new and more vibrant chapter at Sterling Estates!

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #62 | Dated: 3-12-21

Good Afternoon –

We have been looking forward to writing this letter for quite some time…sure you’re aware that the CDC and the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) have started to update their guidance for those who are fully vaccinated as well as for Long Term Care (LTC) Communities. These policy updates are major milestones, marking the fact that the tide of this pandemic has officially turned, and we are well on our way towards better days. The theme of the updates from both of these organizations is now that there has been such a high degree of vaccine adoption within communities like Sterling Estates and the fact that the vaccine is proving to be so highly effective in keeping people safe, we can begin to ease many of the restrictions that have been in place since the pandemic came onto the scene a year ago.

  • CDC’s updated guidance for fully vaccinated individuals can be found here
  • CMS’ updated guidance on visitation can be found here

What does this mean for Sterling Estates?

In general, this updated guidance is just catching up with what we have been doing in our communities for months. Due to our track record of helping keep everyone safe, ample supplies of PPE, our progressive policies and procedures, our continued staff trainings, as well as our large number of indoor/outdoor spaces, we have been supporting these types activities way before most other organizations. These activities include essential, outdoor, and indoor visits, small group dining, and small activity / group gatherings to name a few. The fact we have already instituted policies and procedures that allow for these activities continues to highlight how advanced Sterling Estates has been as we have strived to keep our residents and staff safe as well as social.

That said, as we have done throughout the pandemic, we are required to follow the guidance from our local health authorities at both the state and county level. Although the state of Georgia has not updated their policies yet, we are confident that they will do so soon. Meaning, we are still required to follow Governor Kemp’s latest Executive orders issued on February 26th renewing the state of emergency (currently expires 4/6/21) as well as the shelter in place order for LTC residents (currently expires 3/15/21) (orders can be found here and here). Once Governor Kemp’s guidance changes, we will follow up with those changes and how they impact our communities.

In summary, we are still in a place of status quo as we have been ahead in easing the restrictions the CDC and CMS addressed this week. As we are able to continue to relax additional policies, we will communicate those out to you as soon as possible…we hope and expect to be able to do so in the near future!

Sterling Estates Plan for “Expanding Our Ring of Inoculation”:

When we attained direct provider status for the vaccine last summer, we did so to ensure that our residents and staff had access to the vaccine as early as possible. With that, we were the first senior living community in the state to fully vaccinate our residents and staff. Further, we still remain the only senior living community in the state that is a direct provider of the vaccine.

Once that mission was completed, we went to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) with a plan to continue to offer vaccine to those who need it most. We called this plan our “Expanding Ring of Inoculation” where we wanted to make sure that the loved ones and caretakers of our residents had early access to the vaccine as well. We did this with the hope that this early vaccination effort would lead to a return to “normal” sooner for those we serve in our communities.

In seeing the latest guidance from the CDC and CMS we feel confident that this plan is coming to fruition and will allow our residents and their loved ones/care takers to enjoy the eased restrictions (once they become official) that much earlier.

As of today, we have delivered over 2,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine placing us in the top 7% of the over 1,500 providers in the state of Georgia. We know we still have role to play in trying to end this pandemic as quickly as possible, and we look forward to continuing to do so.

“There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind” – C.S. Lewis

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #61 | Dated: 2-22-21

Good Afternoon –

We hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones doing well.

After the snow and bad weather over the past few weeks, we noticed that we would enjoy some unseasonably warm weather this Wednesday and Thursday.

With that, we like to offer an opportunity to come to our community for a Safe and Social outdoor visit with your loved one.

If you are interested in scheduling time to visit with your family member, enjoy our wonderful courtyards and the beautiful weather during or first ever “Sip and See”, please reach out directly to our community to set up a time to visit. Timeslots will be offered from 1pm – 5pm.

We are excited to announce that this will also serve as an official kickoff to our return to our family visitations, whether outside or inside.

We are able to restart these visitations due to the fact that the Cobb County positivity rates have now dropped below 10%. This decrease in positivity rates places us in Tier 2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) reopening guidance which allows for supported indoor visitations. These visits will be offered starting Monday, March 1st and can be scheduled by calling our concierge at 678-946-4454. As the weather permits, outside visits are still the preferred option and we will know day of if we are able to meet outdoors.

Like before, visits will be scheduled from 10am – 4pm. Nearly all visitations will be during these hours unless prearranged in coordination with our management team. If circumstances change, obviously visitation guidelines in specific areas may change quickly as well. Please reach out to the community directly if you have any additional questions or concerns.

As a reminder, a brief summary of our indoor visitation procedures can be found below:

  • We will offer limited visitation timeslots separated by at least 15-minute cleaning buffers
  • There will be a limited number of visitors allowed in the room as dictated by square footage
  • All visitors who intend to have an indoor visit are recommended to obtain a regular COVID test
  • We also recommend that any regular visitors have been fully vaccinated (full vaccination means you received your 2nd dose of the Moderna/Pfizer vaccine at least 2 weeks ago but no more than 3 months)
  • All visitors will be screened prior to entering the building and will be required to wear a mask at all times. Due to the fact masks must be worn at all times, there will be no eating/drinking during these indoor visits.

We are heartened by the fact that county, state and national levels of the pandemic are improving, and we remain hopeful that we will see this trend continue.

We look forward to seeing you at our community soon.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #60 | Dated: 1-13-21

Good Afternoon –

As we approach the midway point of the month, we wanted to send along a few updates regarding: the current status of the pandemic, our policies and procedures and our efforts regarding the vaccine.

Update on Policies and Procedures:

As many of you know from watching the news and following the current status of the pandemic both locally and nationally, we continue to set daily/weekly records for new cases and hospitalizations. As dictated by the Department of Public Health (DPH) in their administrative order, found here, we continue to follow the DPH’s most conservative pandemic response policies/procedures.

With that in mind, and in concert with the above guidance, we will be extending the suspension of all nonessential visits for our Assisted Living residents through January 31st.

For Our Assisted Living Care Residents:

  • We will continue small group activities and small group dining (as many of these activities can be done while wearing masks and our operating procedures during those activities have proven to be effective thus far).

For Our Cottage Residents:

  • Small group dining will continue to be suspended through January 31st. We will continue to offer small group activities to only include activities that are 10 people or less and allow for universal mask wearing.
  • We know you’d like to resume communal dining. That said, we are working with the DPH to develop policies and procedures tied to communities who have received their 2nd dose of the COVID vaccine. As one of the first communities reaching this milestone, we are at the leading edge of this effort…as we make progress in defining these new policies and procedures, we will update you.

Latest Guidance from the State:

  • Governor Kemp has again extended the Executive Orders which were in place earlier:
    • Executive Order: 12.30.20.01
      • This extends the state of emergency in Georgia through February 7th, 2021.
    • Executive Order: 12.30.20.02
      • This order extends the shelter in place order for residents of Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities (our communities) through January 15th.
      • Sheltering in place means our residents should only prioritize essential/medical trips per the governor’s orders.
    • We fully expect both of these orders to be extended in the coming days/weeks.

Moderna, 2nd Dose Booster Clinics:

We are happy to report that we received our 2nd dose, booster supply of the Moderna vaccine at each of our communities earlier this week. We have again partnered with Transitional Care Physicians of America (TCPA) and Guardian Pharmacy to help administer these booster vaccinations.

  • For those of you who received your 1st dose of the vaccine on December 24th or December 28th your booster clinic is scheduled for Monday, January 25th beginning at 8:30am.
  • For those of you who received your 1st dose of the vaccine on January 7th or January 13th we have tentatively set the date for your booster clinic on February 10th. We will confirm this date as we get closer to the end of the month.

For additional context on the dosing schedule for the Moderna vaccine (at least 28 days after the first dose) you can visit the CDC website here.

Testing Update:

We are also pleased to announce that we have recently received a shipment of rapid, antigen COVID tests through our partnership with McKesson. These tests offer our residents and/or staff the opportunity to receive a test in specific emergency situations where our regular testing channels aren’t readily available. 

If you should have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #59 | Dated: 1-6-21

Good Afternoon -

We are pleased and excited to announce that we have received an additional order of the Moderna vaccine. Our team has reached out to any of our residents (or their loved ones as applicable) and any staff members who have yet to receive the first dose of the vaccine to ensure all who desire to participate in our immunization clinics have the opportunity to do so.

We are planning on hosting our immunization clinic for residents, staff and some of our 3rd party healthcare partners tomorrow.

If you should have any questions or concerns regarding our immunization clinics or our current policies or procedures, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #58 | Dated: 12-30-20

Good Afternoon –

We hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones doing well after a very unique Christmas. We wanted to again thank you for participating in our immunization clinic on Christmas Eve. Those who did receive the vaccine were some of the first seniors and long-term care employees in the state to receive the vaccine. It was a resounding success, with no serious adverse reactions reported by any of our residents or staff…just a few sore arms. We are proud that we were able to inoculate all assisted living and memory care residents and staff who opted in for this first round of immunizations.

We expect to receive additional vaccine shipments in the coming days/weeks. With these additional doses we will be able to continue to offer the vaccine for any additional and/or new residents and staff members who choose to participate in the program. Again, we strongly encourage all residents, staff and other health care professionals who partner with Sterling to participate in our immunization clinics.

Now we have started our immunization program what does that meant for Sterling Estates:

A large majority of our residents and staff have now received the 1st of 2 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is 95% effective in preventing the coronavirus disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus after the 2nd dose. The 2nd dose must be administered 28 days after the 1st dose, which will be January 21, 2021 for the majority of our residents and staff. We are working with both Transitional Care Physicians of America (TCPA) and Guardian Pharmacy to schedule these 2nd dose clinics and will communicate a plan early in the new year.

Although having most of our residents and staff immunized protects them from becoming seriously ill, it doesn’t stop the transmission of the virus itself (meaning, you can give it to someone else who doesn’t have his/her immunization). As we await more people both in Sterling and in the surrounding area to get their immunization shots, we will continue to follow our policies and procedures that have been in place throughout the pandemic:

  • universal mask wearing
  • 6 feet of separation
  • small group activities
  • regular deep cleanings
  • no nonessential visitors (at this time)
  • regular staff testing
  • contact tracing with known COVID positive individuals, etc.

We are currently working with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to define criteria for what our procedures will look like in future once the rate of immunization increases and a timeline for when those policies/procedures will change. We will update you in the coming weeks as those plans are developed.

If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

 The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #57 | Dated: 12-23-20

We are excited to share that our first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived at all 3 of our communities today making Sterling Estates the first senior living community to administer the vaccine in the state.

We have contracted with Transitional Care Physicians of America (TCPA) and Guardian Pharmacy to help administer the first vaccinations starting tomorrow.

Through those partnerships we will have physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, nurses and a litany of other support staff on hand to support in administering the vaccine safely to our residents and staff.

Our team has started to reach out to our residents, resident loved ones and staff to review consent forms as well as answer any questions regarding the vaccine or our plan for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a large step for our communities, residents, staff and a testament to our strong partnerships that we will be at the leading edge of providing this life saving service to those who need it most.

If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


To Our Residents, Family Members and Staff:

Update #56 | Dated: 12-18-20

This weekend we were officially notified that our 2 communities in Cobb County (both Sterling Estates of East and West Cobb) and our community in Fayette County (Azalea Estates) have been approved to be Tier 1a (the highest priority) vaccine providers out of the 5 total tiers.

Below is a quick summary of the two paths we have taken to ensure that our residents and staff have the earliest possible access to the vaccine:

  • National Pharmacy Network Long Term Care Partnership:
    1. CVS and Walgreens have partnered with the Federal government to ensure that all LTC communities have access to the vaccine through onsite clinics. We have applied for and been accepted to this program. Almost all LTC communities in the state are participating in this program.
  • Getting Approval to be a Vaccine Provider Ourselves:
    1. We worked with both the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) to be certified as a provider ourselves (just like CVS and Walgreens). We completed a rigorous application process, trainings, many weeks of conference calls, etc. to get added to the short list of Tier 1a providers.

Having both options available to us will allow us to ensure that you are offered the vaccine as early as possible.

What this means moving forward:

  • Our approval as a provider in the highest priority tier will allow our communities to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine directly from the manufacturers in the coming days/weeks.
  • Pfizer has been granted their emergency use authorization with early shipments of the vaccine starting this past week and initial vaccines administered in the past few days. We expect Moderna to be approved later this week and to follow a similar timeline as Pfizer with vaccines being shipped in the coming days.
  • If for some reason CVS is able to obtain access to the vaccine before us and has enough to schedule onsite clinics at our communities, we will vaccinate our residents and staff through their team.

The decision by the DPH to accept Sterling Estates as a provider underscores how important it is for our residents and staff to have early access to the vaccine, as well as acknowledges how prepared our team at Sterling Estates is to be able to provide this service to our residents. We are proud of our onsite teams which have allowed us to be in this position and look forward to the opportunity of offering you this service as quickly and safely as possible. As a reminder there will be limited supplies early on, but that will be improving over the coming weeks.

We know that there are many questions regarding these new vaccines, with that we have included a few resources below that will hopefully answer some of your questions. Our residents are part of the generation that have always led the way in vaccines: smallpox, polio, whooping cough… and with our inclusion as the highest priority group to gain access to this vaccine, they will again be leading the way with COVID. Over the coming days our team will be reaching out directly to residents, resident loved ones and our staff to confirm their desire to receive the vaccine once it is on site.

More information on each vaccine can be found here:

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The Sterling Estates Partners and Management Team


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