The pandemic has hit Connecticut harder than most states in the nation. Still, in the center of the capital city, an assisted living facility has managed to remain Covid free across the street from Hartford Hospital where they are treating dozens of COVID-19 patients.
The Retreat is an assisted living facility run by Community Renewal Team. It’s had COVID-19 tests on site since April but hasn’t needed them, and that’s been the case for more than 80 days as the deadly pandemic has killed nearly 9 percent of Connecticut’s nursing home residents.
“We’ve not had anybody that has had any indications of symptoms. Somebody leaves the building, they’re immediately quarantined for 14 days and they’re put on an isolation team,” said Heidi Lubetkin, VP Clinical and Senior Services, CRT.
Heidi Lubetkin didn’t wait for local guidance. She implemented the CDC’s mitigation plan during the first week of March. Weeks before Governor Lamont mandated face-covering and social distance.
“We immediately started at high risk – knowing that our population is 65 and older and have comorbidities of diabetes, hypertension, and psychiatric disorders as well. So we really needed to start early on to quarantine and isolate our building,” said Lubetkin.
What have they done differently to keep 100 residents and 80 staff safe? First, making sure employees aren’t working at multiple sites.
“If you’re going to work here, this needs to be the only place that you work and I believe that’s really the key difference,” said Lubetkin. “Every touch point, every exposure opportunity – going from the doorways to the chair tops to the counter rails all the way to the quarters that we used in our laundry machines.”
They offered laundry service and stopped processing hundreds of coins everyday. Still, they’re not completely closed off. Families got a chance to visit on Mother’s Day and sat not 6 but 12 feet apart and did temperature checks.
But Lubetkin recognizes this pandemic is relentless.
“It’s still a when. It’s not an if.”