COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates

The Golden Years’ primary focus and concern is the safety and well-being of our precious residents and our valued staff.

As a healthcare facility serving seniors, we recognize the increased vulnerability of our residents in this situation and therefore are continually monitoring and following the guidance and direction given to us by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and the Walworth County Division of Public Health. In addition, we have been, and will continue to be in contact with our local hospital and physician partners to ensure we are properly coordinating care with them and doing all we can to serve and protect our residents during this evolving situation.

As the situation related to Coronavirus develops, we will add updates to this page by date, with the most recent appearing at the top.

 

Our assisted living and health care facilities in both Walworth and Lake Geneva are currently allowing visitors, with restrictions.
Our independent living Retirement Village in Walworth is currently allowing family visitors, with restrictions.
 

 

There are currently no active cases in our Lake Geneva facility.
There are currently no active cases in our Walworth facility.

 

There are 15 recovered staff cases and 7 recovered resident cases in our Lake Geneva facility.
There are 35 recovered staff cases, 24 recovered resident cases, and 2 resident deaths in our Walworth facility.

9 recovered resident cases and 1 resident death from our Walworth Assisted Living
12 recovered resident cases and 1 resident death from our Walworth Health Care Center
3 recovered resident cases from our Walworth Retirement Village

April 11, 2021

Sunday greetings from the Golden Years of Walworth where 3 state surveyors made a surprise appearance this morning…yes, on a Sunday morning! They have stopped in for a “routine” visit to ensure we are following all of their required guidelines – including all of their COVID restrictions. Their arrival is a great example of one of the major reasons for the detailed guidance we have put in place for any of you who have visited! It is ALWAYS an uncomfortable feeling when surveyors are in the building, but it’s also yet another time where we find ourselves so grateful for our amazing staff!

We are expecting updated county COVID positivity rates to be released tomorrow (Monday) late afternoon/early evening and those results could possibly dictate some changes to our testing and personal protective equipment policies. At this moment, we do not anticipate any major changes to our visitation status as a result of the forthcoming update. We will certainly plan to provide an update if any changes are required.

While the county positivity rate does have an impact on our policies, our internal COVID status has an even more significant impact. As a result (and as we’ve mentioned before) our visitation status is always subject to immediate change based on those factors. If you are coming to visit, please continue to abide by the guidelines we have in place as we endeavor to meet the expectations of the governmental authorities, and as we try to a keep our residents, our visitors, and our staff as safe as possible.

 

April 5, 2021 - Visitation Updates

All of the test results from last week have come back negative so we will be proceeding with relaxing the visitation restrictions in our Walworth building. It is important to note, however, that the Walworth county positivity numbers continue to go up. For now, we are safely and legally able to continue proceeding with these visitation changes. If the numbers continue to increase at this current pace, the next step would be increased testing for us, and then the next progression would be re-instituting tighter restrictions on our visiting rules. We will certainly keep you all informed as that develops, and we obviously hope and pray that the numbers level off and start to decrease again.

At the moment there are no changes to our current visitation restrictions in our Lake Geneva building or in our Walworth independent living Retirement Village. However, beginning this Wednesday, April 7, we will be implementing the same guidance in our Walworth health care and assisted living as we have had in place in Lake Geneva over the past week. In summary, these are the current expectations for visitors:

Visitors must continue to sign-in and take their temperature before entering. Each visitor entrance will be equipped with a thermometer and sign in sheet. Visitors will self-screen and must fill out all of the blanks on the sheet and sign their name before every visit (even if they are a repeat visitor).

Visitors must wear a visitor sticker.

Visitors must use hand sanitizer (provided at each entrance) before entering the building.

Visitors are only allowed to visit in the resident’s private room or outside the building. The only current exception is if a visitor is helping to feed a resident in the dining room, and this exception must be discussed and approved in advance by the director of nursing or assistant director of nursing in our health care facilities or the manager or assistant manager in our assisted living. Unfortunately, we remain unable to accept guests to enjoy a meal with our residents, and visits cannot take place in any of our common or shared living spaces at this time. Visits are also unable to take place within semi-private rooms in our Walworth facility. Visitors of residents in those semi-private rooms will still need to call in advance to ensure a designated visitation space is available for use.

Visitors must wear a mask for their entire visit. Masks cannot be taken off, even if in the resident’s room. Residents are also required to wear a mask during the entire visit. There are no exceptions to this requirement for visitors, and any exceptions for residents need to be discussed and approved in advance by the manager or assistant manager.

No more than two (2) visitors are allowed per resident at one time. This is not a daily limit or a requirement to choose only 2 individuals that will be allowed to visit – this is an “at one time” limit. If more than 2 visitors arrive and want to visit, they will be welcome, but should visit in shifts of no more than 2 at a time. Exceptions to this may be pre-approved in limited cases by the manager.

– Physical contact should be avoided during visits due to higher risks of exposure. However, residents that have been fully vaccinated may choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting face mask and performing hand-hygiene before and after.

Visits will be allowed during the day and on “off hours” like evenings and weekends, with common sense requests to be mindful around times like therapy treatments, meal times, and late evenings/early mornings.

Any visitor showing signs or symptoms of illness, or that have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus within the past 14 days, or have had close contact in the past 14 days with someone that has tested positive for COVID-19 or is exhibiting signs of a respiratory illness is not allowed to visit.

The only way we are allowed to accommodate visitors at this point is with these conditions. We understand some disagree and/or don’t like these restrictions, but we truly are trying to do all we can to allow as much freedom as possible within the guidelines that we are required to follow. With that in mind, we ask for your continued understanding and compliance. We certainly hope this will not be an issue, but we are required to ensure these guidelines are being followed, so any visitor that refuses to comply with these expectations may have their visiting privileges revoked.

Please let us know if you have questions or concerns or special circumstances that we should be aware of, and thank you again for your support!

March 31, 2021

So far all of the test results from Monday have come back negative! There are just a few that we’re still waiting on, but so far it’s great news. We will be doing another round of testing in Walworth tomorrow and the results of this next round will help determine how we need to proceed.

We also want to address the fact that today the Wisconsin State Supreme Court overturned Governor Evers’ most recent emergency order which included a statewide mask mandate. While this is of interest, it does not change anything within the Golden Years. All staff and any visitors are still required to wear facemasks that cover the nose and mouth while they are at the Golden Years. Even though there have been some recent loosening of restrictions, our guess is that wearing face masks in healthcare facilities will still need to continue for quite some time.

Today was the first day for our updated visitor restrictions in our Lake Geneva building, and it was exciting to be able to accommodate numerous face-to-face reunions that felt long overdue! We are anxiously looking forward to providing the same opportunities in our Walworth building – hopefully soon!

March 29, 2021 - Updated Visitor Guidance

We really appreciate all of our Walworth staff rallying together and coming in to get tested today! The lab test we sent out last week did confirm our staff member’s positive status so we will have another round of mandatory testing later this week. Our hope and prayer is obviously that all of the tests come back negative!

We also just received the most updated county numbers this evening, and once again Walworth County’s rate has ticked up a little higher. The numbers are still well below the highs of late last year, but they are definitely increasing which is concerning. We recognize that many of our staff and most of our residents have been vaccinated so the hope is obviously that the vulnerable we serve now have some intrinsic protection. However, many of the guidelines that we need to follow regarding visitation, testing, and protective equipment are based in part on the county levels so these increases do have the potential to affect us.

As was mentioned in our last posting, we have some new information to share regarding visitation in our assisted living and health care facilities. Please note that these updates will be going into effect this Wednesday, March 31, – but in Lake Geneva only. We intend to mimic this same guidance in our Walworth building, but need to wait until we receive the results from our testing today and Thursday. There are no updates to the visitor guidance in our Walworth Retirement Village at this time. It is also important to point out that these changes are – as always – subject to immediate change based on the positivity rate within our building and within Walworth County.

We are excited that we will be able to allow more inside and in-person visits for our residents! Guests will now be able to visit more freely – in most cases without the need to schedule a specific room – and during evenings and weekends as well!

The important high points for these changes are as follows:

Visitors must continue to sign-in and take their temperature before entering. Each visitor entrance will be equipped with a thermometer and sign in sheet. Visitors will self-screen and must fill out all of the blanks on the sheet and sign their name before every visit (even if they are a repeat visitor).

Visitors must wear a visitor sticker.

Visitors must use hand sanitizer (provided at each entrance) before entering the building.

Visitors are only allowed to visit in the resident’s private room or outside the building. The only current exception is if a visitor is helping to feed a resident in the dining room, and this exception must be discussed and approved in advance by the director of nursing or assistant director of nursing in our health care facilities or the manager or assistant manager in our assisted living. Unfortunately, we remain unable to accept guests to enjoy a meal with our residents, and visits cannot take place in any of our common or shared living spaces at this time. Visits are also unable to take place within semi-private rooms in our Walworth facility. Visitors of residents in those semi-private rooms will still need to call in advance to ensure a designated visitation space is available for use.

Visitors must wear a mask for their entire visit. Masks cannot be taken off, even if in the resident’s room. Residents are also required to wear a mask during the entire visit. There are no exceptions to this requirement for visitors, and any exceptions for residents need to be discussed and approved in advance by the manager or assistant manager.

No more than two (2) visitors are allowed per resident at one time. This is not a daily limit or a requirement to choose only 2 individuals that will be allowed to visit – this is an “at one time” limit. If more than 2 visitors arrive and want to visit, they will be welcome, but should visit in shifts of no more than 2 at a time. Exceptions to this may be pre-approved in limited cases by the manager.

– Physical contact should be avoided during visits due to higher risks of exposure. However, residents that have been fully vaccinated may choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting face mask and performing hand-hygiene before and after.

Visits will be allowed during the day and on “off hours” like evenings and weekends, with common sense requests to be mindful around times like therapy treatments, meal times, and late evenings/early mornings.

Any visitor showing signs or symptoms of illness, or that have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus within the past 14 days, or have had close contact in the past 14 days with someone that has tested positive for COVID-19 or is exhibiting signs of a respiratory illness is not allowed to visit.

We recognize that this is still not a complete return to “normal”, but it is yet another step in that direction! We are trying to do all we can to allow as much freedom as possible within the guidelines that we are required to follow, so we ask for your continued understanding and compliance. While we certainly hope this will never be an issue, we do need to mention that any visitor that refuses to comply with these guidelines may have their visiting privileges revoked.

Please let us know if you have any questions. It has been SO long, but we genuinely look forward to welcoming visitors back into our buildings!

March 26, 2021 - Positive Staff Case

For the first time in a long time we unfortunately need to report that we have a new likely positive staff COVID case in our Walworth building. This individual was exposed in the community and subsequently tested positive on a rapid test. As usual, we have sent in a lab test and are awaiting those results. Thankfully they have reported that physically they are doing fine.

As a result, we will be doing a couple of rounds of testing for both our staff and residents over the next week. The results of those tests will help determine any next steps.

For now, we believe that we can safely allow the current visiting restrictions in Walworth to remain the same with regards to scheduled visits and compassionate care situations. As was mentioned earlier this week, we have also been working on updating our visitor guidelines to relax some details within the new CDC restrictions. As was just stated, for now there will be no changes to the visiting policies in Walworth. However, starting next Wednesday, March 31, there will be some significant changes in Lake Geneva. There are a couple of components being finalized and we will be posting an update on Monday evening with those specifics. 

There continues to be positive signs in the overall direction of this virus, but it obviously remains very present in our area. Please know that we are continuing to do all we can to protect our residents and staff while working toward moving past the strict quarantines and isolation of this past year. Thank you so much for your continued support and compliance through all of this!

March 22, 2021

We are so grateful that all of our recent COVID test results have continued to come back negative! This helps allow us to continue to push forward with updates to our visitor restrictions. We have finally received most of the clarification we were looking for with regards to the new CMS visitation guidance, and are working on the documentation we need to be able to proceed. We hope to release updates to our visitor procedures before the end of the week!

We also want to take a brief moment to mention a letter that some of you may have received in the mail from us in the past couple of weeks. We had attempted to send the letter to the primary contact for each of our residents, and we had simply wanted to express our thanks for the support and patience they’ve given us during this time. Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication with our local post office, there were some issues with the postage on the envelope, and as a result we apologize to any of you who were affected!

March 11, 2021

Last evening the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released updated guidance regarding in-person visits in healthcare facilities. We are working with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for clarification on a few of the details and then intend to update our procedures accordingly. Once we have everything in place to be able to safely implement this new guidance we will be sure to update everyone. Thank you in advance for your patience as we work through this process!

March 8, 2021

It has been strange, but fantastic to not be providing COVID updates so frequently! All of our COVID tests in both buildings over the past several weeks have been coming back negative, and while the testing is currently not required by the State (due to our numbers and the county numbers), a significant number of our staff have continued to get tested, which has been very much appreciated. In fact, because the positivity rate in Walworth county continues to decline, and has remained in the lowest category long enough, we will be adjusting our testing schedule from weekly to every other week. After having our noses probed twice a week for so long, only needing to have it done every other weeks seems unbelievable!

For now, all of our other precautions remain in place, and the current resident visit restrictions remain unchanged as well. As some of you may already know, the CDC released some updated guidance today – particularly for vaccinated individuals – but that guidance is for non-healthcare related settings only. It does not apply to our buildings. There have been indications that new guidance will be forthcoming specifically for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but nothing has been released yet. We anticipate this new guidance will likely include some significant changes and we will obviously do our best to share those details with you as well as implement those changes once they are released.

This week marks 1 year since we first closed our doors due to COVID, and it’s so exciting to see some of those related restrictions slowly being lifted!

February 17, 2021

In our last posting we noted that we don’t intend to be posting updates quite as frequently moving forward, so of course we have another update to post the very next day!

There is another change to our restrictions that we wanted to share. With the decline in the COVID positivity numbers, we are also now able to have some modified group activities and some modified group dining in our Lake Geneva building as well as our Walworth assisted living and health care center. There are obviously still many precautions in place with regards to distancing, mask usage, and cleaning, but it has been SO amazing to see our residents back together in these small ways! While we have tried to do all we can to keep our resident’s spirits up throughout these months as we follow the guidelines and try to protect them from the COVID virus, the isolation has certainly taken a toll on them. It has definitely been refreshing for everyone to spend a little time together again!

February 16, 2021 - Updated Visitor Guidance

All of last Thursday’s test results are back, and again, all were negative in both buildings! Those results, combined with the continued improvement in the Walworth County positivity rate, means that some more big changes are coming!

Possibly the biggest news is that we will now be able to begin allowing in-person visits for our assisted living, health care, and Lake Geneva residents inside of our buildings! Now, this is just a first step so there are still many restrictions that will be in place. The visits must be scheduled and will only be able to take place in specially designated areas and only during designated times. There will be screening and infection control precaution requirements as well as some documentation. It’s definitely not a return to “normal” yet, but it’s at least a step in the right direction!

Anyone interested in scheduling a visit should plan to call the individuals listed below:
For Lake Geneva, please call Ally at 262-249-1960.
For Walworth’s Health Care Center, please call Carol at 262-275-6103.
For Walworth’s Assisted Living, please call Chris at 262-275-6103.

Those three ladies will be able to schedule visits, answer questions, and will help coordinate this process. Unfortunately, during this initial phase we are unable to accept unscheduled or walk-in visits, so please be sure to call them in advance to set up a time to come in.

Due to differences in the regulations, family visitors for our residents in the Retirement Village have had restricted access inside of the building for some time now. As of this moment, there are no additional changes to those restrictions, but we will do our best to communicate if and when any major changes are possible for that area.

It is very important to note, once again, that the loosening of these restrictions is subject to immediate change. If there are any positive cases within our buildings, or if the county positivity rate increases again, tighter restrictions will again be put back in place right away. These tighter restrictions would also most likely include the temporary suspension of scheduled inside visits. Obviously we would intend to inform you all if that happens.

Finally, we are intending to continue to cut back on the frequency of these postings. As was mentioned in the last update, based on our positivity rate and that of Walworth County we have been able to reduce our routine COVID testing to weekly now. While you should continue to check this site for our most up to date information, we do not plan to continue to post an update after every round of testing unless there is a positive case to report or an important update to share.

We cannot express how much we appreciate the support and cooperation that you all continue to provide. We know that these next steps will be slow and frustrating at times, but we are so excited that we are finally able to start taking these steps!

February 11, 2021

We have all of the results from Monday’s testing – all negative in both buildings once again!

With the continued negative results in both buildings and the improving (lowering) county positivity numbers, we will be able to transition to once a week COVID testing (instead of the current 2x week) beginning next week! Our residents will also have a reprieve and will no longer be required to receive routine testing. Obviously, we will continue to test any symptomatic individual or suspicious case in addition to the weekly routine testing for our staff.

With that said, it is really important to note that the loosening of these restrictions is subject to immediate change. If there are any positive cases within our buildings or if the county positivity rate increases again, the testing frequency will return to 2x a week. Our other precautions like masks, and scrubs, and extra cleaning all remain in place.

We also have some vaccine updates to share. We were able to confirm that we will be able to offer 1st doses of the vaccine on February 23 in Walworth after all. We have reached out personally to any residents and/or their family that may be impacted by this availability. Our next clinic in Lake Geneva will be March 1 and there will be no first doses available during that clinic.

As a quick tease, if the trends continue, we are hoping to have some good news to share – possibly as early as next week – regarding allowing some visits inside our assisted living and health care center in Walworth as well as in our Lake Geneva building!

February 8, 2021

We received the remaining 3 test results from last Monday and have received all of our test results from last Thursday…and all results were negative in both buildings!!

For the moment, biweekly COVID testing remains mandatory in our buildings, but it’s possible that could change as early as next week thanks to our negative tests and the receding county positivity rate.

Finally, it now looks like we may be able to offer 1 last chance at a first dose of the COVID vaccine in Walworth. We are confirming the details but it looks like 1st doses may still be able to be given on February 23. We recognize the impact this may have on several of our residents and staff that were previously COVID positive, and will reach out directly to those residents and their families in the coming days/week as we confirm the details.

February 3, 2021

In Walworth we have all but 3 results back from Monday’s testing, and so far all have come back negative!

In Lake Geneva we have all of Monday’s test results back and all were negative as well.

Our next Walworth vaccine clinic is now scheduled for February 23. We believe this will be the final clinic available in Walworth. As a result, there will also be no 1st doses given during this clinic – only 2nd doses for those individuals that have already received their first dose. The exact time is not confirmed, but we anticipate it will be similar to the last one with the Retirement Village in the morning and Assisted Living residents as well as staff in the early afternoon.

This Monday was our 2nd Lake Geneva vaccine clinic. Another 57 staff and residents received their doses of the vaccine and we so appreciate everyone’s efforts to help pull that off successfully! The final vaccine clinic in Lake Geneva is scheduled for Monday, March 1. As in Walworth, there will be no 1st doses given during this clinic, only 2nd doses for those individuals who received their first shot this Monday. We do not have a confirmed timeframe for this clinic yet, but anticipate it will be late morning/early afternoon.

One other piece of good news: the Walworth County COVID positivity rate has finally dropped out of the highest category! If it can remain in the medium category for 2 weeks, and if we continue to have no positive cases, we will finally begin to have some more flexibility in allowing some inside visits for our residents! We’ll keep a close on this and will certainly keep everyone informed.

January 31, 2021

A super short update today:

We have all of the results from Thursday’s testing, and once again…all negative results in both buildings! Updated county positivity rates should be released early this week so we’ll keep an eye out for those as well.

January 28, 2021

We have all of the test results back from Monday for both buildings…and all came back negative!!! Unfortunately the county positivity rate remains in the highest category, but those numbers have been trending down lately as well. Much of our ability to revise our restrictions are based on our personal positivity rate and that of the county so it’s a very positive sign that both continue to trend down!

Tuesday this week was a pretty momentous day for all of us. It marked the moment when the COVID vaccine was available to be administered to any member of our staff and residents. Prior doses were only available to our staff and skilled nursing residents. This Tuesday, with our assisted living and retirement village included, 108 doses were administered throughout our Walworth campus! Our next clinic will be Monday in Lake Geneva so the number of vaccinated individuals throughout our organization will only grow.

We truly feel privileged to be on the front line of being able to receive and offer the vaccine. As we were thanking the great pharmacy crew from CVS on Tuesday, they commented that it’s been a long year for us and we deserve it. I’m honestly not sure that any of us have ever felt that we “deserve” the vaccine right away, and we recognize that only time will tell of the impact it will have on our campuses as well as the community at large. We certainly do feel grateful, but more than anything, we feel hope!

January 25, 2021

We have received all of the test results from last Thursday and there were no new positive cases in either building! We also realize we never followed up on the last 15% of the test results from last Monday in Walworth. Those were all negative as well!

We have learned of multiple individuals – both residents and staff – with family members that have recently tested positive, however. We are encouraging cautiousness in each of those situations and recognize that while the county positivity numbers have improved from their peak, the prevalence of the virus locally still remains very high.

This week we will have our 2nd opportunity for COVID vaccinations in our Walworth building. We’re especially grateful that this round will include our retirement village and assisted living residents. Our next vaccine opportunity in Lake Geneva is the following week. We are working on finalizing all of the necessary paperwork for both of those vaccine clinics as we expect 100+ participants this week in Walworth alone!

January 20, 2021

We have most of the test results back from Monday’s testing, and we finally have some more details for the upcoming vaccine clinics.

In Walworth we have received back about 85% of Monday’s test results and so far have no new cases to report.

In Lake Geneva we have received back 100% of Monday’s test results and also have no new cases to report. 

Our next vaccine clinic for Walworth has finally been officially confirmed for next Tuesday, the 26th, and it WILL include our assisted living and retirement village residents! We are working through all of the required paperwork and notifications, but are excited to now be able to offer the vaccine to the rest of our residents!

Our next vaccine clinic for Lake Geneva has not yet been officially confirmed, but we are believing it will be held Monday, February 1.

Even with the arrival of the vaccine, the requirements for masks, shields, social distancing, and visitors have not changed and likely will not change for a little while yet. While we absolutely hope and pray that the vaccine helps bring an end to this pandemic, any changes to our daily lives will take some time. For one thing, the vaccine is a two part process and it takes weeks for your body to respond and develop the response to the virus that is needed for protection. The vaccine protection is not immediate. In addition, we still have had positive cases popping up in our Walworth building recently, and the positivity rate throughout Walworth County remains very high. The state has also indicated that they want to see improvement in the positivity rates before they will review their guidance and make any alterations. We’ve been experiencing variations of these preventative measures for 10 months now, so we intend to stick with it and make it a point to finish strong!

January 18, 2021 - Positive Staff Case

We continue to prepare for our upcoming vaccine clinics, and unfortunately we have another rapid positive case to inform you of as well.

In Walworth we finally received the result back for that 1 remaining sample from last Thursday and it was negative. However, today we did have a staff person test positive via a rapid test. As always, we are sending in a lab test for confirmation, but they have begun quarantining immediately. This individual was tested last Thursday and it came back negative at that time, which is one of the reasons we continue to test twice per week.

In Lake Geneva there is nothing new to report at the moment from a testing perspective.

Our upcoming vaccine clinics are scheduled for next week in our Walworth building and the week after in our Lake Geneva building. We are still working through many of the details with the pharmacy, but are confident we will be prepared to meet our portion of their requirements. At this time we are still expecting our assisted living and retirement village residents to be able to be a part of next week’s clinic as well.

January 16, 2021

A fairly brief update this evening:

In Walworth we have all but 1 test result back from Thursday and there are no new cases to report.

In Lake Geneva we have received all of Thursday’s test results back and there are also no new cases to report.

We continue to move toward our second vaccination clinics – Tuesday January 26th in Walworth, and Monday February 1st in Lake Geneva. We are still working with the pharmacy on specific details, but at this point are believing that our assisted living and retirement village residents will be included along with our staff and health care residents during this vaccination clinic.

As always, once we get more details we will do our best to share them with you all!

January 14, 2021 - Positive Staff Case

We have some good news to share regarding the next vaccine clinic, and unfortunately a new positive staff case to notify you of as well.

In Walworth we have 1 new positive staff case. This individual began feeling ill while at home so received a rapid test today and it came back positive. A lab test will be sent in for confirmation, but they are quarantining right away. As of today we have also received all of the lab test results from Monday and there were no positive cases identified through that testing.

In Lake Geneva we have also received all of the results from Monday’s testing and there were no positive cases identified.

We finally have a tentative date for our next vaccine clinic in Walworth for our staff and skilled nursing residents – Tuesday, January 26. While we do not have final confirmation yet, it also appears that our Assisted Living and Retirement Village residents will be able to receive the vaccine on Tuesday the 26th as well! As we work on confirming this possibility, we will begin collecting the requirement consent information from interested residents so that we are prepared should everything work out. At this time we have not been made aware of any future opportunity for our Assisted Living or Retirement Village residents to receive the first dose of the vaccine, so we are encouraging any interested residents to consider getting the vaccine during this opportunity.

We remain on track for February 1 for our next round of vaccinations in our Lake Geneva building.

More info to come!

January 11, 2021

We received the remaining results from last Thursday’s testing and thankfully there are no new positive cases to report for either building. Obviously today was another testing day so we should begin receiving these results by the middle to later part of this week.

We continue to work with the pharmacy on future vaccine planning. The second vaccine clinic is tentatively scheduled in Lake Geneva for Monday, February 1. We do not have a set date for the second clinic in Walworth yet, but we expect that it will likely be sometime during the last week of January. We also do not have any additional information about vaccine availability for our assisted living or retirement village residents at this time. The state of Wisconsin should be releasing those doses at the end of this month, but we don’t know yet which specific facilities will be prioritized in that rollout process. We received an update today from the Walworth County public health department that they continue to work on helping us get access to the vaccine for our interested staff that are 16-18 years old. They are somewhat hopeful that there might be a way to make the Pfizer vaccine available, but again, there is nothing definite yet.

As always, we’ll try to keep providing updates as we have information to share!

January 9, 2021 - Positive Resident Case

We received that last remaining test from Monday’s testing in Walworth that was mentioned previously (it was negative), and are currently receiving results back from Thursday’s testing. Sadly, we do have a new positive case to notify you of.

In Walworth we have received all of Thursday’s test results and have no new positive cases to report.

In Lake Geneva we have received about 80% of the test results back from Thursday and we do have a new positive resident case. They are asymptomatic at this time and their case was only discovered because of the routine testing. Family has been notified personally and obviously their quarantine has begun immediately. We will be watching for the remaining 20% of the results and will update you all once we have those details.

We have mentioned several rapid positive cases over the past couple of weeks and realize that we have not followed up specifically on those with you all. However, to this point all of those recent rapid positive cases have been confirmed as positive by the lab. We have not had any recent “false positive” cases.

This new resident positive case in Lake Geneva is now our 80th positive case within the Golden Years – 47 staff and 33 residents. It’s a sobering number, and we recognize the fear, anxiety, and extra effort that each one of those 80 cases represent. These days continue to be challenging, but we are so grateful for our staff, our residents, and families for all of the continuing support and care through these crazy times.

January 7, 2021 - Positive Staff Case

We finally have almost all of the results back from Monday’s testing. At this moment we are only still waiting on the results of 1 sample from our Walworth building. The rest of the results have all been received.

In Walworth we do have one new positive staff case. This individual was beginning to feel some symptoms so when they came in for their routine lab test today they also were given a rapid test. Their lab test from Monday came back negative, but unfortunately their rapid test today was positive. As is the routine, we are sending in an additional sample from today to the lab for confirmation and this individual is quarantining at home right away.

In Lake Geneva there are no new cases to report.

We have continued to pursue access to the COVID vaccine for our assisted living and retirement village residents, as well as for our staff that are under the age of 18.

For our younger staff, we still have not been able to get access to the Pfizer vaccine. The only vaccine that has been allocated to nursing facilities through our pharmacy continues to be the Moderna option. However, at the recommendation of the Wisconsin Department of Health we have reached out to the Walworth County public health department for assistance. To this point they have also not been able to get access for us, but have said that they will continue to work with us to try to find a way for us to be able to offer it.

With regards to our assisted living and retirement village residents, there is finally some progress toward the vaccine becoming available for them. Just today, the state of Wisconsin notified the federal government that they plan to activate the next phase of the vaccine rollout plan which should include both our assisted living and retirement village. Per the rules of the program, the state must notify the federal government 2 weeks before they can start distributing the vaccine which means the first dose should begin to be available to assisted livings in the state at the end of January. We have not been given any specific dates or details about when we might be scheduled specifically, but at least there is some progress at the state level toward expanded access to the vaccine.

The department of health also indicated today that by the end of the day tomorrow they anticipate that the first dose of the vaccine will have been made available to about half of the skilled nursing facilities throughout the state. We are still working on confirming details of when we can expect them to return to our buildings for the second dose (and possible first dose for those who waited) and will plan to share those details when we have them.

January 5, 2021 - Positive Staff Case

Unfortunately we have yet another positive test result to inform you of from today.

In Walworth we had a staff member that wasn’t feeling well while they were at home, so they came in and were given a rapid test which came back positive. As always, they have been personally notified and are now isolating at home.

In Lake Geneva we finally received the rest of the results from last Thursday’s testing and have no additional positive cases to report. 

The lab has received a number of our samples from yesterday’s testing already. No results yet, but we can see they are beginning to process them. Hopefully now that we are past the holidays we will begin to see results a bit sooner than we’ve been experiencing recently. Obviously we will provide more updates when we receive those results.

January 4, 2021 - Positive Staff Case

Those in our Lake Geneva building were able to receive the first dose of the COVID vaccine today! We were encouraged by the good turnout and there are now 78 individuals between both buildings that have received the vaccine! We are still working on making the vaccine available to our assisted living and retirement village residents, but to this point do not have any updates to share in that regard.

The lab received another batch of our tests from last Thursday that had been held up by FedEx, as was previously mentioned. We hope to receive those results soon. We did another round of lab tests today in our Walworth building, and with the new positive cases in Lake Geneva we prioritized doing some rapid tests. As a result of those rapid tests, unfortunately there is one positive case to report.

In Walworth there were no new cases.

In Lake Geneva there was another positive staff case discovered today. This one was as a result of a rapid test so we are sending in another sample to the lab for confirmation. This individual is feeling some symptoms, but to this point they have reported that they are manageable.

We’ll continue watching for the results from last Thursday and will share them as soon as they become available.

January 3, 2021 - Positive Cases

We are beginning to receive test results from last Thursday’s testing (the 31st). Due to the holidays, it appears some packages of tests have still not even been delivered by FedEx to the lab. Those are scheduled for delivery tomorrow (Monday) so hopefully we’ll start to get those results soon. However, even with limited results, we unfortunately do have some positive test results to report.

In Walworth all of the new results we’ve received so far have been negative.

In Lake Geneva the routine lab testing results we have received so far identified 1 new positive resident case. As a result, several rapid tests were performed and 1 more resident and 1 staff person tested positive. All are currently isolating, and for the 2 rapid positive individuals we will send in a lab test, as usual, for confirmation.

We will obviously be doing all we can to prevent any spread from occurring within our building(s), and please keep our staff and residents in your thoughts and prayers as we try to do so!

January 2, 2021 - Positive Staff Case

The holidays have really seemed to impact the timing of our test results for this week. We have finally received the rest of the results from our testing early in the week, and at this point our New Years Eve testing hasn’t even been registered in the lab’s system yet. As a result of the early week testing we do have one new positive result to report.

In Walworth we have 1 new positive staff case. This individual has been notified and is now quarantining at home. They are asymptomatic and their case was discovered simply because of the routine testing. We also received the results back from testing our Retirement Village residents and they were all negative! 

In Lake Geneva there were no new positive cases from the early week testing. Monday in Lake Geneva we will be working with our pharmacy to provide the first dose of the COVID vaccine to our residents and staff in that location. 

We will obviously continue to watch for the test results from New Years Eve’s testing and will update you all when they come in!

December 31, 2020

Many have been anxiously looking forward to this day – the long-awaited end of 2020 and the opportunity to put the challenges of this difficult year behind us with the hope for a better 2021. A common sentiment we’ve seen is “good riddance 2020”, and with several more hours before 2020 officially ends, we find ourselves nervously waiting to see if this crazy year has any more final surprises to spring upon us. The more natural and far easier reaction is to quickly close the book on this year, and try to just move on as fast as possible. However, as we take a moment to reflect, we recognize that there was still a lot of meaning, a lot of good, and a lot of value in the midst of the challenges of 2020.

We may never look back with joy at the thought of wearing masks, or social distancing, or having a swab shoved up our noses. While we accept God’s plan and His timing, we may never look back without sadness and pain when we remember the 2 individuals within our Walworth building that suffered with COVID before it ultimately contributed to their death. And between our residents’ isolation from loved ones and the many ramifications of having COVID positive residents and staff, we may never look back and be able to completely rationalize the physical, emotional, and financial cost of this past year.

But if it weren’t for this crazy, difficult, tiring year, we also may never have seen some of the extra amazing and selfless ways our staff cared for our residents and each other. So many of them worked extra shifts, worked extra short, and worked in departments, or on shifts, or even in buildings that they weren’t used to. It’s been because of this incredible adversity, and through the long hours, and the late nights, and the stress, and the pain, and the fear that their incredible hearts to serve have really been displayed, and they did all of this recognizing that by continuing to show up to provide care, they were putting themselves at increased risk for this virus.

So while we certainly hope for better days in 2021, we actually don’t look back at 2020 and think “good riddance”. We think of how blessed we were – and are – to have such incredible people to work with. Through some of the greatest adversity the Golden Years has ever faced, our residents continued to receive loving and exceptional care because of our truly amazing staff.

As we leave 2020 and enter 2021, we are so thankful to get to serve such wonderful residents and families, and we are completely convinced that we get to work alongside the absolutely best staff in healthcare!

December 30, 2020

Yesterday our Walworth facility was able to offer the first dose of the COVID vaccine to our health care residents and our staff. On the bright side, no recipient had a major allergic reaction. Most have reported soreness in their arm at the injection site, or a slight headache, with one recipient reporting feeling ill today. On the down side, it does not appear that any of us experienced the rare superhero side effects like super strength, invisibility, or glowing hair…but maybe those are still coming… We continue to prepare for the vaccine clinic for our residents and staff in Lake Geneva on Monday. We have been told that the vaccine takes around 6-8 weeks and 2 doses for full effectiveness so as a reminder, for now nothing is changing with regards to our infection control or visitor protocols.

We are beginning to slowly receive results back from Monday’s testing. In Walworth we only have about 15% of the results back and in Lake Geneva we have 48% back. So far all are negative, but we’re obviously still waiting on a lot of them yet. In Walworth we also tested all of our retirement village residents today, and with the new year holiday, we expect to receive those results back likely this weekend sometime. 

Despite the heavy snowfall last night and into today, the Golden Years remained open. It’s amazing to think that regardless of the weather or the holidays, we continue to serve our residents all day and all night – all because of the incredible dedication of our staff. They really are special!

December 28, 2020 - Positive Staff Case

We have one new positive staff case to inform you all of. One of our Lake Geneva staff was not feeling well so we had them come in for a rapid test today and they came back positive. They are quarantining now and we have sent in a lab sample for confirmation. Our contact tracing leads us to believe this case was obtained in the community – not through the Golden Years.

Especially after the holidays we are expecting an increase in positive cases locally, so are focusing our efforts on maintaining our infection control precautions. Another round of testing was completed today so we expect to have those results later in the week.

December 27, 2020 - Positive Staff Case

We have received all of our results from last Thursday’s testing, and unfortunately we have a new positive staff case to report.

In Walworth all of the lab tests from last Thursday came back negative. However, this weekend one of our staff began feeling some symptoms so was tested again using a rapid test, and that result came back positive. They are currently quarantining and are symptomatic, but doing alright.

In Lake Geneva all of the test results came back negative!

As a reminder, the first round of vaccines will be distributed in Walworth this Tuesday, the 29th, and in Lake Geneva next Monday, the 4th. We do not anticipate that anything will change in the near future with regards to our infection control protocols or visitor restrictions, despite the vaccine’s arrival. Our hope is that the guidelines may begin to be adjusted in a couple of months, but we do not anticipate anything in the near future. 

December 24, 2020

We have received back all of our results from Monday’s testing and all are negative in both buildings! We are doing a round of testing again today, and are honestly not sure what to expect with regards to the timing of the results in light of the holidays. As always, we will try to provide updates whenever information becomes available to us.

Our only remaining quarantined resident was able to come out of isolation today so we are extremely grateful to not have any active resident COVID cases for the moment. We are certainly aware of how rapidly that can change, however, and are apprehensive with the holidays coming up as we recognize that cases in the area will likely again rise. For a moment though, it feels really good to finally have no active resident cases!

We also have a vaccine update to share. Yesterday we received notice that our Walworth building is now scheduled to receive the vaccine next Tuesday, December 29th, and it appears our Lake Geneva building will be receiving it the following week. Unfortunately, we were also informed that the vaccine will only be available to our staff and our health care residents at this time – not our assisted living or retirement village residents. This was extremely disappointing to hear as the initial indications were that everyone in our buildings would be allowed to get it right away. As a result, we’ve been including them in all of our projected numbers that we’ve been providing to the state and the pharmacy, and most residents have been looking forward to receiving the vaccine. Apparently it is up to each individual state to allocate this first phase of vaccines, and the state of Wisconsin chose to prioritize skilled nursing facilities, and for the moment, exclude other senior care settings. We will continue to advocate for them to be eligible to receive it, but don’t know right now when that will be. We also expect that there will be at least a couple opportunities to receive the vaccine in each of our buildings. They will likely be spaced approximately 4 weeks apart, but we don’t have confirmed details on those other dates yet.

Thank you for your interest in these updates, and for your continued prayers and support. As odd as this year’s holiday season is for all of us, we certainly wish you a Merry Christmas as we all creatively find ways to safely celebrate!

December 22, 2020

We apologize for the delay in getting this update posted. Today we finally received the rest of the test results from last week’s testing. Despite the delay, with all of the results back now we have no new cases to report for either building! Because we still had new cases last week, and because of the high positivity levels in Walworth County, bi-weekly testing will need to continue for the foreseeable future. Our next round of testing will still be taking place this Thursday morning – even though it’s Christmas Eve.

There are still alot of details that are unknown regarding the vaccine rollout, but we are slowly getting a little more information. The pharmacy is still tentatively targeting early January as the date of the first round for our Lake Geneva building. They have not provided us with a projected date for the first round in our Walworth building yet. We are beginning to pull together the required paperwork and putting the necessary “process” items in place so that we can be as prepared as possible for when the vaccination teams arrive.

We will continue to provide more information as more is shared with us!

December 18, 2020 - Positive Cases

We have nearly all of the test results back now from earlier this week, and unfortunately we do have new positive cases to inform you of.

In Walworth we have about 95% of the test results back from Tuesday, and today we learned of 2 new positive staff cases. Both individuals have been notified and are quarantining at home.

In Lake Geneva we have received all of the test results back from Monday now and everyone came back negative!

Starting next week we will continue our routine testing in both buildings, but it will now be done on Monday and Thursday. We initially made the day change due to the upcoming holidays, but now plan on keeping Mondays and Thursdays as our new testing days moving forward. One of the reasons for planning to keep the change is that we are hoping it will help us get our results back sooner.

We obviously aren’t clear of new cases yet so we continue to remain careful and vigilant with our infection control processes.

December 17, 2020 - Assisted Living and Health Care Holiday Guidance

Due to the recent positive cases within our buildings, and the continuing high COVID-19 positivity rate in Walworth County, we are still unable to allow visitors inside our Lake Geneva facility as well as our Walworth Assisted Living and Health Care facilities – although the exceptions remain in place for compassionate care/end of life situations, and any applicable families have already been personally informed.

We very much encourage, and are happy to facilitate alternate means of communication – both during the holidays and anytime. While admittedly not the same as a visit during “normal” times, window visits, phone calls, and video calls are all options that are readily available. In addition, we want to again confirm that families can still send mail or flowers to their loved ones during this time.

While we strongly encourage against it, our assisted living and health care residents do have the right to leave our buildings to spend time with their loved ones. However, because of the risk for infection, the significant vulnerability of most of our residents, and the high risk of rapid spread within a facility, additional precautions would need to be taken upon that resident’s return. Those precautions would typically include quarantining the resident in their room for 14 days, increased monitoring of their condition, added sanitations, and requiring additional personal protective equipment to be worn by both our staff and the resident. We would ask that any family seriously considering this please talk with us in advance so a fully informed decision can be made.

As an additional point of clarification, an individual’s previous COVID infection and recovery does not change the guidance. So, just because a resident had COVID and is now recovered does not mean it is “safe” to disregard the precautions outlined by the CDC and public health. For one thing, those are guidelines that as a health care organization we are required to follow. In addition, from a medical perspective, a person who has had a virus typically develops antibodies that provides some level of future protection. Although antibodies essentially clear the infection and can stop it from replicating, there have been cases of COVID reinfection, and some experts believe people can potentially be carriers even after recovering. This is certainly not the primary way that the COVID-19 virus has been spreading, but it does remain a potential concern.

If a resident ultimately chooses to leave the building temporarily, the CDC strongly encourages the following recommendations be followed:

  • Limit close contact (maintain physical distancing of six feet or more), keep gatherings as small as possible, and use technology to engage with others remotely
  • Wear facemasks or cloth face covering at all times (including in cars, homes, restaurants, etc.)
  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items
  • Keep safe around food and drinks. Avoid communal serving utensils, passing of food, potluck or buffet style food service, and instead opt for individually prepared plates by a single server
  • Perform hand hygiene often (e.g., wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer)
  • Avoid large gatherings, crowded areas, and high-risk activities such as singing
  • For those attending a gathering, avoid contact with individuals outside of their household for 14 days prior to the gathering
  • Ask anyone who has signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or has been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, to not attend the gathering
  • If possible, conduct gatherings outdoors. Indoor gatherings should have good ventilation, open windows and doors if possible
  • Verbally greet others instead of shaking hands or giving hugs. Think ahead about how you will manage to prevent physical interactions with loved ones of different ages such as young children
  • Check local conditions and state requirements for precautions and restrictions, including positivity rates and quarantine requirements, before crossing state lines.

We clearly understand how difficult this pandemic has been for our residents and their families, and we know this Christmas holiday season is unlike any other that we’ve experienced in our lives. We ask that our residents and their families please follow the recommended guidelines in an effort to help us continue to provide the best care we can for all of our residents and to help us protect our residents and our staff.

December 17, 2020 - Retirement Village Holiday Guidance

Regrettably, Golden Years is still not able to open the doors for our Walworth Retirement Village resident’s families to join them here for dinner as we have in past years. However, while we do not endorse or encourage visiting inside the Retirement Village at this time, if families do choose to visit we have some requests regarding how to more safely celebrate with family and help our community remain virus-free:

If family plans to visit on Christmas Day or at any time over the next two holiday weekends, each visitor should take their temperature, sign the roster in the entry vestibule, use hand sanitizer and go directly to their loved one’s apartment. It is really important that our resident and their family keep their masks on the entire time they are visiting – even in the apartment! We also request that the number of family members in each apartment be limited to 3 or less.

Our medical director, Dr. Hobbs, and the CDC continue to recommend that our residents not gather with family in their homes or in area restaurants where there may be large crowds. However, if residents decide to join their family, it is imperative that everyone follow the safety protocols established by the CDC: wear masks at all times, perform hand hygiene as often as possible and maintain a safe physical distance from others.

For any resident that visits with family (in their apartment, in their family’s home or in public places) we encourage them to consider a self-quarantine upon their return – for their safety as well as the safety of the other residents of the Retirement Village. During that time, we will gladly deliver each resident their meals and their mail.

To further endow each of our residents with peace of mind, Golden Years will provide a Covid-19 test for all Retirement Village residents on Wednesday, December 30, and, depending on the vaccine protocol, a follow up test the following Tuesday or Wednesday.

As an additional point of clarification, an individual’s previous COVID infection and recovery does not change the guidance. So, just because a resident had COVID and is now recovered does not mean it is “safe” to disregard the precautions outlined by the CDC and public health. For one thing, those are guidelines that as a health care organization we are required to follow. In addition, from a medical perspective, a person who has had a virus typically develops antibodies that provides some level of future protection. Although antibodies essentially clear the infection and can stop it from replicating, there have been cases of COVID reinfection, and some experts believe people can potentially be carriers even after recovering. This is certainly not the primary way that the COVID-19 virus has been spreading, but it does remain a potential concern.

These requests are not made lightly but with careful thought and high regard for each of our residents as we recognize that within a community like our Retirement Village, each individual’s actions will also affect everyone around them.

December 16, 2020

We had an expected, but surprise visitor today in Walworth. A state surveyor showed up unannounced to do a focused infection control survey as a result of the recent COVID cases that we’ve had in the building, and they left today after finding NO issues! This is such a credit to our phenomenal staff! The surveyor specifically noted that the residents appeared well cared for, and was particularly impressed with the patient and caring way our staff washed several resident’s fragile and contorted hands. While we’d prefer to not have surveyors ever come into our buildings, we will never tire of them leaving without finding any problems!!

There are no test results in yet from Monday/Tuesday’s testing. However, as we indicated we would previously, we did rapid antigen tests on the 9 individuals in our Retirement Village that had close contact with the recent COVID positive resident case…and all were negative!! While sadly we’ve seen the severity of this virus increase suddenly and unexpectedly at times, we are very thankful that our current COVID positive residents seem to have mild cases and seem to be managing well so far.

We also have some preliminary updates and additional thoughts to share regarding the upcoming COVID vaccine. There is still alot that is unknown, but we are beginning to get glimpses of some details. The first COVID vaccine was recently authorized by the FDA. This vaccine is made by the company Pfizer. There is also a second company, named Moderna, that has made a very similar vaccine. Both were created using the same technologies and both have published nearly identical rates of efficacy. The Moderna version has not officially received authorization yet, but it is expected to receive authorization very soon – possibly still this week.

Each state is allocating their allotment of vaccines differently, but we learned today that the early indication is that we will be receiving the Moderna version for both our residents and staff in both buildings. Distribution of the vaccine to nursing homes in Wisconsin is now expected to begin the week of December 28th. This evening we received preliminary notification that our Lake Geneva building will likely be scheduled to receive the first round of the vaccine on Monday, January 4th. This date is not confirmed or finalized yet, but that is the projection at the moment. We have not been given any indications of a projected date for our Walworth building yet. While it is not officially confirmed yet, it appears that all of our residents in both buildings – health care, assisted living, and retirement village included – will all be eligible to be part of this first wave of vaccinations.

Our strong encouragement to all of our staff, and residents, is to talk with their primary physician as they evaluate their decision whether to get the vaccine or not. It is not mandatory at the moment, so we want everyone to make an educated decision. We will be asking everyone soon what their intent is just so we can begin to get preliminary numbers for our pharmacy.

We expect much more detail to be released in the next few days so will try to keep you all informed!

December 14, 2020 - Positive Case

Our Thursday/Friday lab test results from last week came back today with NO new positive cases for either building!

Unfortunately, the excitement of no new lab cases is tempered a bit by the discovery of a new rapid positive resident case in our Retirement Village. This resident was feeling some symptoms which is what led us to do a rapid test. We are sending in a lab test for confirmation, but with the rapid positive result combined with their symptoms we are putting in place all precautions right away. The COVID positive resident is quarantining in their apartment now, and we will continue to check in on them to monitor their condition. In addition, our contact tracing identified 9 other close contact individuals that are now quarantining in their apartments as well. We will also be testing those individuals in an effort to try to prevent any additional spread.

Finally, as most of you probably know, the FDA has issued their approval for the new COVID vaccine. We did speak with our pharmacy today as they continue to prepare for the vaccine rollout, but they do not yet have any specific details to share. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said today to expect at least a 2-week ramp up period as all of the formal approvals and details get sorted out. DHS has also cautioned that there will be no immediate changes to the guidance regarding visitation or infection control precautions – they will not be making any adjustments to their requirements until they begin seeing reduced community spread.

Obviously no one knows yet what impact this vaccine will or won’t have on the pandemic, but it sure does feel good to just take a moment and imagine that there is a light at the end of this tunnel! As always, we’ll plan to share more when we know more!

December 12, 2020

An extremely short and extremely sweet update for this evening: we finally received the rest of the results from our testing early in the week and there are no new cases to report for either building!!

When we receive results from our testing that was completed late in the week we’ll provide another update.

December 11, 2020 - Positive Cases and Vaccine Update

We’ll continue to do our best to keep providing updates when there is new information to share, but with both buildings on different testing day schedules right now that will probably mean these more frequent updates will continue as our test results will be coming in even more randomly for a little bit.

In Walworth we have about 80% of Tuesday’s test results in, and again we have new cases to announce. Today we learned of 1 new staff case, and 1 new resident case. The resident case is from our assisted living. Both individuals have been notified personally and are quarantining.

In Lake Geneva the lab has begun processing Thursday’s tests, but there are no results yet.

As many of you probably saw on the news, the FDA advisory panel recommended approving the first COVID vaccine. It still needs formal FDA approval, but that is expected to be granted in the upcoming days. We have been in touch with our pharmacy, which is who will be coordinating the vaccinations for our building. They are continuing to work on developing their plans for the distribution of the vaccine, and do not yet have many solid details to share. At this point they are hoping to begin vaccinations in the state of Wisconsin a few days before Christmas. As we’ve mentioned before, this vaccine is a 2-part shot and they are hoping to have all of their facilities receive both doses before the end of March, 2021. The current plan is that we will not only be getting the vaccine from the pharmacy, but they will also be providing their staff to administer the shots as well. They have not yet unveiled their schedule so we aren’t sure when our buildings will be eligible for the vaccine. They expect to reveal their schedule information in the next couple of weeks. Obviously as soon as we know more information we will share it.

December 10, 2020 - Positive Case

A fairly brief update this evening.

In Walworth we have 1 new staff case to report. This individual was experiencing some symptoms so was given a rapid test and it came back positive. We have not yet received any results from the lab for Tuesday’s testing, but will obviously report those once we receive them.

In Lake Geneva we have received all of Monday’s test results, and all were negative!!

A number of our staff returned to work and residents came off quarantine this week. We’re grateful for each one of those, and we look forward to more that are scheduled to be coming off quarantine this weekend and early next week!

December 9, 2020
Today we provided rapid COVID tests for all of our independent living Retirement Village residents, and we are thrilled to be able to report that all came back negative! After learning of 2 positive cases in our Retirement Village in the past week and a half, there were certainly concerns that more would be discovered with today’s testing, but we are so grateful that there were no new cases. We will continue to encourage our residents to be careful, we will continue our daily monitoring of them, and we will continue to try to limit their exposure from outside sources. However, we also recognize that with the additional freedom our independent living residents have comes some additional risk as well. 
December 8, 2020 - Positive Case

It is with a heavy heart that we write to let you all know that another one of our residents has passed away with COVID-19 as a contributing factor. This was another precious, special person with an incredibly supportive and caring family, and it’s honestly another loss that is really hard to accept. This individual had been living in our Walworth assisted living, but spent their final days in our Walworth health care center due to their additional care needs. They were one of the rare people to have spent time living in all 4 portions of the Golden Years, so they made an impact throughout our entire Walworth building as well as our Lake Geneva location. There were other ongoing health factors that may have even played a larger role in their death than COVID did, but there is no doubt that this virus complicated what turned out to be their final weeks. It’s so hard to accept this outcome, but our staff did a great job providing comfort and care for this individual all the way to the end.

We have now received all of last week’s test results. In addition to the update from yesterday, there is an additional case to report.

In Walworth there is 1 new positive staff case. This individual has been personally notified and have been instructed to begin their quarantine immediately.

In Lake Geneva there are again no new positive cases! All of our precautions and testing will continue through this week and if no new cases pop up, we will re-evalaute some possible adjustments next week.

December 7, 2020 - Positive Cases

We have been receiving results from last Friday’s testing throughout the day today. We do not have all of the results in yet, but wanted to provide a brief update based on what we have so far. 

In Walworth approximately 80% of Friday’s test results are in, and once again we do have positive tests to report. There is 1 new staff case, 2 new resident cases in the health care center, and 1 new resident case in the assisted living. The positive individuals have been notified and are obviously quarantining. On a more encouraging note, there are 3 staff and 8 residents that will be eligible to come off their quarantine tomorrow!

In Lake Geneva approximately 50% of Friday’s test results are in, and once again there are no new cases to report! 

We will be adjusting our testing days in the coming weeks to account for Christmas Day and New Years Day falling on a Friday – one of our “normal” testing days. We aren’t sure how the holidays will affect the timing of us receiving our test results from the lab, but we’ll continue to do our best to report those results whenever we receive them.

December 6, 2020

It is with a great deal of sadness that we post this update to inform you that one of our Walworth health care center residents has passed away, with COVID-19 as a strong contributing factor. This is the resident we mentioned a few days ago that was in the hospital and was very much struggling. The reports we received indicated that their condition had stabilized for a moment, but ultimately this virus, combined with their other comorbidities, proved to be too much for their body to handle. This individual had been dealing with multiple other health issues for some time, and their family says they had lived a good life and were ready to go home to Heaven. We’ve had the privilege of serving this resident and their family for several years, and while they are grateful that their loved one is now at peace, our heart breaks along with them as they experience this loss.

Even though we had some warning that this might be the outcome, this is a hard one for us to process. We have all put so much effort into trying to protect our residents from this virus that to have it ultimately take one of their lives is a difficult reality to accept. It’s hard to look back and helplessly feel like we did all we could, and yet this virus could not be stopped. We continue to remain focused on doing all we can to limit this virus’ spread and we are carefully monitoring those that are currently quarantined. While we grieve the loss of this resident today, we are grateful that most continue to experience mild to no symptoms and have been recovering well.

We are also beginning to receive results from Friday’s routine testing. Any positive individuals and their families are being personally notified right away, and we’ll provide a broader update in a future posting once more of the results are received.

December 5, 2020 - Positive Cases

We got alot of test results back today! Not only did we finally get the rest of last Friday’s results for Walworth, but we also got all of Tuesday’s test results for both buildings.

In Walworth we once again have more new cases to share. We have 2 new staff cases and 1 new resident case. The lab testing actually came back with numerous positive cases today, but most were confirmations of previously reported rapid-positives. Of the new cases, 1 new positive staff case was as a result of the lab testing, and the other new staff case was a rapid positive test for the individual we mentioned was a “suspicious” case on Dec 2nd. The 1 new resident case was as a result of a rapid test in our assisted living. Each of the individuals has been notified and all are quarantining.

In Lake Geneva the testing once again showed no new cases!! Not only were there no new cases, but they are actually working backwards and removing past cases now! After further testing, the most recent positive resident case that we had announced late last week turned out to be a false positive!

There are a few residents that we continue to keep an extra close eye on due to their more significant symptoms, and we continue to work closely with their families and their physicians to ensure we are providing them the best care that we can. We are excited that several staff and residents will be ending their quarantines this weekend and are grateful that most staff and residents continue to report that they are doing well and have been able to manage through their symptoms. 

December 3, 2020 - Positive Case
This evening we began to receive some results from the testing earlier this week….while the wait for the remaining dozen from last Friday continues.

We do have 1 new positive resident case in Walworth. This health care center resident tested negative on Friday and tested negative again on Tuesday, but began to show some COVID-like symptoms. They ended up being sent out to the hospital early today and again tested negative at the hospital. This individual was sent back to us, but was having a hard time so they were sent back to the hospital again where this afternoon they ultimately tested positive for COVID. We have been in close contact with this family and their doctors, and to be honest, this resident continues to physically struggle. We’ve all invested so much effort to try to protect all of our residents during this pandemic and while we believe that we have all done everything that we can, it’s still just gut wrenching to have one of our own struggle like this. This person does have many co-morbidities and complicating health factors, but this is a person we have known and loved and cared for – they are not just a statistic.

Another challenge is that we are seeing the consequences of how full our local hospitals are. All 3 of our more severe COVID cases have been sent to the hospital and then back to us multiple times as the hospital is doing all they can to have room for the influx of COVID patients they are seeing. This is obviously extra difficult on our residents who are having a hard time with the effects of this virus, but also our staff as we try to care for and advocate for these residents that are struggling so much.

Through this, we continue to be so thankful for and proud of our incredible staff. Seeing some of our residents struggle as they fight this virus is so difficult and our options to provide comfort feel so limited, but the selfless love and care they continue to provide is simply amazing. We continue to be blessed that the majority of our cases have been mild and most residents, as well as staff, have been recovering to full health with no real issues.

Your continuing thoughts and prayers for our residents and staff are greatly appreciated.

December 2, 2020 - Positive Cases
We have finally received the majority of the test results from last Friday’s testing. There were a large number of positive results, but most were confirmation of previously known cases through rapid testing. Unfortunately there are some new positive cases that we will outline below, and there are still some remaining tests that we are awaiting results on.
 
 
In Walworth we learned of 2 new staff cases today. One was as a result of a rapid test and the other was from Friday’s lab testing. In addition, there is 1 suspicious staff case that is quarantining at home now as a precaution while we await further test results. We also completed a round of rapid testing for all of our Retirement Village residents today and identified 1 new positive resident case. This individual is now quarantining in their apartment and we have sent an additional specimen to the lab for confirmation. While several of our COVID-positive staff and residents are symptomatic, we continue to be grateful that most have had mild cases. As has been mentioned before, there are a couple of current resident cases that have been more concerning than most, and have required additional medical treatment. Please continue to keep them in your prayers. While both are still fragile, thankfully they are both are currently medically stable. One has returned to the Golden Years and we are expecting and hoping that the other will be back by the end of this week.
 
 
In Lake Geneva we are very glad that there are no new cases to report.
 
 
We continue to try to be mindful of our infection control protocols as we serve our residents. In addition, the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services released some new guidance with regards to our staff’s usage of our breakrooms including guidance for mask usage, hand washing, sanitation, and capacity limits. Most of the items are things we have been doing already, but we are reviewing all of the guidance to make sure we are compliant with all of it.
 
 
We are eagerly looking forward to the return of several of our currently quarantined coworkers within the next week, and anxiously await being able to lighten the restrictions on our residents once this wave has subsided. In the meantime, please continue to call or write to check in with your loved ones, and please continue to keep our staff and residents in your prayers.
December 1, 2020 - Positive Cases and Vaccine Plans
We still have not received a significant amount of our test results from last Friday for our Walworth building. As frustrating as it is for many of you who are anxiously awaiting these results, I can assure you that we are incredibly frustrated right along with you. The most recent explanation from the lab is that Thanksgiving Day combined with the weekend really set the lab back. As we have pushed them today for results we have been told repeatedly that the results will be coming either “shortly” or “soon”….

In Walworth we have received about 40% of Friday’s lab results back. There have been multiple positives, but each of them has just confirmed a previous rapid test. So far there have been no unexpected confirmed results from the lab, but again, there are alot left to hear back on yet. We also rapid tested all of our assisted living residents today and do have 1 new resident case that was identified. As is the routine, we have taken a sample to send to the lab for confirmation, but are isolating this individual as if they are positive and have personally notified their family.

In Lake Geneva we have received back the rest of Friday’s test results. The individual we mentioned yesterday was confirmed to be positive, as expected, and they are continuing their quarantine.

There are beginning to be more conversations and questions – both nationally and within the Golden Years – about the the COVID-19 vaccine. We don’t have alot of official details yet, but wanted to provide some high level information regarding what we know so far. As has been reported on the news, there are COVID-19 vaccines developed by multiple companies that are currently working toward receiving FDA approval for widespread distribution. None have been officially approved yet, but we are being told they anticipate the first ones will be approved and ready for distribution within the next couple of weeks. Thus far, it appears each will require multiple doses – likely 2 shots several weeks apart. In late October, federal officials began requesting that nursing facilities sign up for a program that would allow facilities to be considered a priority recipient for the vaccine whenever it became available. Both our Walworth and Lake Geneva facilities signed up for this program. This program did not come with any requirements regarding receiving the vaccine, but it does provide us priority status should we choose to. In fact, just today, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted that long-term care residents and healthcare workers will be given first access to a COVID-19 vaccine once it is authorized by the federal government.

We don’t know when or how the vaccine will be distributed yet, and while we honestly don’t think the federal government will mandate it – there have been rumors that they might attempt to. The early data seems positive in terms of the vaccine’s effectiveness, but the reality is that it’s new, so there is certainly some appropriate apprehension that comes with that. We have had some lengthy discussions with our Medical Directors from both buildings, as well as with our contracted pharmacist regarding their advice and thoughts about this vaccine. Our perspective and our goal is to do everything in our power to make the vaccine available to all of our residents and our staff, but try to avoid mandating it. While the medical professionals that we trust believe that the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks, and we genuinely hope a vaccine could signal a turning point in this pandemic, it is important to us to allow our residents and staff to make those decisions for themselves. We expect that we will likely be required to get signed declination forms from anyone who chooses not to get it, but barring a federal or official mandate of some sort that we are required to follow, our intention is to make it available, but optional.

We expect much more information will be coming regarding the vaccine, and know there are still many unanswered questions, but we wanted to give you an update regarding the information we have now and our current thoughts.

We will once again plan on providing another update tomorrow – hopefully with the rest of Friday’s test results.

November 30, 2020 - Positive Cases
We are clearly still in the midst of the outbreak in our Walworth building as we have more new cases to report this evening. It also appears we are not completely rid of positive cases in our Lake Geneva building either.

In Walworth there is 1 new staff case, 4 new resident cases in our health care center, and our first resident case from our independent living Retirement Village. All of these were identified as a result of rapid testing, and we have sent follow up samples to the lab for confirmation. The now predictable notifications (public health, medical director, families) have all taken place, and thankfully most residents are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms. There are a couple that are a concern that have needed additional medical treatment, but thus far those additional treatments have been successful. We are obviously keeping a close eye on everyone – but especially those individuals who have been struggling a bit more.

In Lake Geneva there are no new official cases to report at this moment, but based on potential exposure, current symptoms, and early indications from the lab we anticipate there will be a new positive staff case to report – likely tomorrow. This individual is aware and is already proactively quarantining.

We have begun to receive lab test results from last Friday. Almost all of the results from Lake Geneva are already in, but we haven’t received any from our Walworth building yet. As we mentioned previously, we have been working even more diligently with the lab to speed up the processing time so we have reached out to them again tonight for assistance on the Walworth samples. We are hoping those results should begin posting in the night and through tomorrow.

Mandatory testing continues for our staff tomorrow in both buildings. Our Lake Geneva residents will be tested again tomorrow as well. For residents in Walworth, because we tested all of our Walworth health care residents today we will just be testing our assisted living residents tomorrow. Our retirement village residents will all be tested on Wednesday.

We will plan to provide another update tomorrow once we hopefully have more results from Friday’s lab testing.

November 29, 2020 - Positive Cases
Unfortunately we have continued to become aware of new COVID positive cases this weekend.

Today in Walworth, through rapid testing, we have 4 new cases to report. 2 were health care center residents, 1 was an assisted living resident, and 1 is a staff member. The staff member and the resident’s families have been personally notified. Isolation carts and equipment is set up for those rooms with COVID positive or suspected positive individuals, but with the continuing increase in positive cases, all residents in the heath care and assisted living areas (with a couple of unique exceptions) are being quarantined to their rooms, regardless of COVID status. What we are experiencing today is likely due to exposure from 4-10 days ago, so unfortunately we anticipate that we will likely continue to learn of new cases even as we currently work to try to limit this spread.

In Lake Geneva there are currently no new cases to report.

Even with the many positive cases, our staff is working hard, picking up extra and working on shifts or in areas that they aren’t used to. It’s because of their dedication, flexibility, and willingness that we continue to be able to keep providing excellent care to our residents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are so proud of them and thankful for them!

November 28, 2020 - Positive Cases

We just received the remaining results from Tuesday, and once again there are positive cases to report.

In Walworth we received lab confirmation that the 3 rapid-positive residents in the assisted living that we mentioned earlier this week are now confirmed positive. We also received confirmation that the 2 rapid-positive staff that we mentioned earlier are also now confirmed positive. In addition, the lab testing revealed 3 new positive resident cases in our health care center and 1 new positive staff case. We currently have 1 remaining rapid-positive resident case in Walworth that we anticipate receiving lab confirmation on sometime next week. All positive staff and resident families have been notified and all are quarantining. Most staff and residents are doing well and are experiencing fairly minor symptoms. We do have one resident that has had some stronger symptoms that impacted their breathing which has required some additional medical treatment. There are also a couple of residents and staff that are currently quarantined as a precaution. Their past lab tests have been negative and each of their recent rapid COVID tests were negative, but they are showing enough suspicious symptoms that we are acting proactively in isolating them as we try to limit this spread.

In Lake Geneva we received lab confirmation on the 1 rapid-positive staff case and they are now confirmed positive. The lab testing also revealed 1 new positive resident. (note: follow up testing showed that this resident case was actually a false positive) Both individuals are quarantining and the resident’s family has been notified. As in Walworth, there is also a staff member that is quarantining based on suspicious symptoms. They also do not have a positive test yet, but we believe it is the right proactive decision.

Our mandatory testing in both buildings will be continuing and we are closely monitoring all our residents for sigs or symptoms of illness. We will also be testing our independent living residents this upcoming week. As those residents have been able to have in-person family visitors (with restrictions), we are testing them in an effort to try to catch any cases early if there was any spread over the holiday.

November 25, 2020 - Positive Cases
Unfortunately, for the 4th time in 5 days there are a couple of new positive cases to report. Today we learned of cases in each building – both through rapid testing. We have not yet received any results from this week’s lab testing to confirm any of our current rapid-positive cases, but are obviously treating each as legitimate in the meantime.

In Walworth the rapid positive was an assisted living resident. They are being quarantined and are asymptomatic at this time. Their family has been notified of the positive test result.

In Lake Geneva the rapid positive was a staff person. They were feeling some symptoms – which is what led to the testing today – but they are currently doing ok and are quarantining at home.

In other news, the state surveyor that we’ve been expecting showed up unannounced in our Lake Geneva building today. After their review they had a couple of “suggestions” to share, as every surveyor does, but they also recognized what an amazing job our staff continues to do in the face of this pandemic. As a result, Lake Geneva passed with absolutely no issues! Any time a surveyor leaves a building without finding anything to write up it’s a huge victory so we are thrilled that they didn’t find any issues…and we are thrilled that they have left!

November 24, 2020 - Positive Cases
As we began this posting tonight we were still waiting on about 30% of the results from Friday to come back. However, as it was being drafted, the lab completed the rest of Friday’s testing so we are able to provide a full report. Unfortunately, that report includes some new positive cases once again.

In Walworth there are 2 new lab confirmed positive staff cases. Both individuals are quarantining at home and are doing fine. However, in addition we have 2 more staff that were rapid-positive today as well. Both individuals were feeling minor symptoms which is why a rapid test was done. In an effort to be proactive, we decided to rapid test all of the assisted living residents to try to get ahead of any potential spread. Unfortunately, 2 assisted living residents also tested rapid-positive. Both are doing well at this time. All 4 of those rapid-positive individuals tested negative on Friday’s lab testing. We’ve discussed the differences between the lab and rapid testing in a previous posting, and as has been mentioned, the rapid tests are accurate, but not as accurate as the lab tests. So, we are sending in specimens for all 4 rapid-positive cases from today to the lab for confirmation. In the interim, however, we are functioning as if they are all positive and the residents are quarantining in their rooms and the staff are quarantining at home. The families of the rapid-positive residents have been notified, as has public health and our medical director. We also took the opportunity today to do some refresher training for our staff on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to correctly and safely put that equipment on and take it off. We hope these are skills they don’t have to use for too long, but wanted to ensure everyone was comfortable with the process and doing it appropriately.

In Lake Geneva there was some good news today as there were no new cases to report!

Finally, we mentioned in yesterday’s posting some concerns regarding the delays we have been experiencing in receiving our test results back from the lab. After a long conversation with the lab this evening, we believe that we have some ideas on how we might be able to see some improvement in those delays despite the high volume they are processing. We are cautiously optimistic that these adjustments will in fact be effective.

November 23, 2020 - Positive Cases
We finally received back the remaining results from last Tuesday’s round of testing. The delay in getting these results back is definitely beyond what it should be so we’ve reached out to the lab for clarification on how this can be improved moving forward. We realize that they are overwhelmed in processing all of the samples they are receiving, but obviously time is of the essence for us to receive these results.

Unfortunately, now that we’ve received the rest of the results, there are more positive cases to report.

In Walworth there are 3 new positive staff cases. All 3 individuals have been notified and are quarantining at home. Thankfully all 3 have reported that any symptoms are minor and manageable at this time. Our initial contact tracing has not identified a clear or certain source for any of the 3 cases.

In Lake Geneva there are no additional cases to report from last Tuesday’s testing.

Today we have begun to slowly receive test results back from last Friday’s testing. So far there have been no positive results, but we have only received back results from a small amount of the samples at this point. As there continues to be positive cases identified in both buildings, we will continue to provide mandatory testing for all of our staff as well as our assisted living and health care residents as we attempt to prevent, or at least limit any spread.

November 21, 2020 - Positive Cases
Unfortunately this week our test results from Tuesday’s testing have been even slower in coming than normal. A portion of the issue is that we learned that there was a problem with the delivery of some of our specimens through FedEx. We’re not exactly sure what happened with the shipment, but the specimens were received at the lab a day or two later than usual. Thankfully, this delay has no impact on the viability of those samples. There is plenty of cushion to allow for something like this and still expect to receive accurate results. The biggest frustration is that it just means we have to wait even longer for the results. In addition, as COVID cases continue to explode – especially in Wisconsin – the labs are struggling to keep up with the overwhelming amount of specimens they are receiving for testing which is causing delays as it is. The combination of those factors means that we still don’t have all of our test results back from Tuesday’s testing. We don’t know when the rest of those results will be in, but we’ll plan to provide updated information once they are received. In the meantime we’ll provide a partial update with the results we do have.

In Walworth we have received about 85% of the lab test results back and there are no confirmed positive cases. The remaining samples are all staff which means once again we have had no new resident cases in Walworth! We do have 1 staff case that would be considered “suspicious” at this time and they are quarantining at home as a precaution while we await further test results. We will likely not have more information on that case until early next week sometime. This individual’s test results from Tuesday have been received and they were negative at that time.

In Lake Geneva we have only received about 30% of the lab test results back at this point, and there are 2 confirmed positive staff cases. Both individuals are experiencing mild symptoms and are quarantining at home. Through our contact tracing we believe that one of the cases is likely connected to the Golden Years and the other case is likely due to community spread. The 30% of results we have received have all been staff – meaning we have not yet received any lab test results back for Lake Geneva residents. Especially as we became aware of the 2 new positive staff cases, we elected to rapid test all of the residents in Lake Geneva in an effort to avoid any delay in responding to any potential spread. Thankfully, all of the residents were rapid-negative! As we’ve mentioned before, of the 3 recent COVID-positive residents, we believe 2 were due to Golden Years spread. Both of them have remained asymptomatic throughout and are able to be coming out of quarantine. The 3rd COVID-positive resident that was likely infected as a result of community spread has had numerous symptoms, but they have been continuing to improve. We anticipate they will be able to come out of quarantine in the near future as well.

We’ve been consistently reporting new cases to you all every week for the past 4 weeks – though it feels like it’s been at least twice that long! This trickle of new cases certainly wears on everyone, but it is definitely better than the alternative of a full blown outbreak like many other facilities are experiencing. We are confident that our staff’s continued efforts are absolutely making a difference in slowing and preventing the spread of this virus within our buildings, and we believe it is ultimately contributing to the positive outcomes that our infected residents and staff have all experienced to this point.

November 19, 2020 - Holiday Guidelines
You might think that after dealing with this pandemic for 8+ months it would be getting easier to know how to best proceed through some of these tough times, but it seems that each decision is as hard as the last. This pandemic has been isolating for everyone, so the thought of gathering with friends and family over the holidays is a refreshing thought – for both our residents and our staff. However, the CDC has said that “small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases” and they recommend that everyone “consider how your holiday plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” The unfortunate, but simple reality is that locally this virus is not contained at this time, and it has mostly spread through family and friends, not strangers.

As a result, in coordination with our medical director and our local public health department, and at the direction of the CDC, in an effort to do all we can protect the vulnerable seniors in our facilities we are requesting that our staff and our residents and their families alter their typical holiday plans for this year. We have already communicated directly with our staff, and below are our thoughts and requests for our residents and their families, broken down between our Independent Living and Assisted Living/Health Care areas.

 

Independent Living Retirement Village – Walworth Campus

Golden Years will unfortunately not be able to open our doors for families to join their loved ones here for dinner as we have in the past. However, while we do not endorse or encourage visiting inside the Retirement Village at this time, if families do choose to visit we have some requests regarding how to more safely celebrate with family and help our community remain virus-free.

During any family visit, each visitor should take their temperature, sign the roster in the entry vestibule, use hand sanitizer and go directly to their loved one’s apartment. It is really important that our resident and their family keep their masks on the entire time they are visiting – even in the apartment! We also request that the number of family members in each apartment be limited to 3 or less.

We are strongly recommending that our residents do not gather with family in their homes or in area restaurants where there may be large crowds. However, if residents decide to join their family, it is imperative that everyone follow the safety protocols established by the CDC: wear masks at all times, perform hand hygiene as often as possible and maintain a safe physical distance from others.

For any resident that visits with family (in their apartment, in their family’s home or in public places) we encourage them to consider a self-quarantine upon their return – for their safety as well as the safety of the other residents of the Retirement Village. During that time, we will gladly deliver each resident their meals and their mail.

To further endow each of our residents with peace of mind, Golden Years will be providing a COVID-19 test for all residents the week following Thanksgiving.

These requests are not made lightly but with careful thought and high regard for each of our residents as we recognize that within a community like our Retirement Village, each individual’s actions will also affect everyone around them.

 

Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Health Care Centers – Lake Geneva and Walworth Campuses

Due to the recent positive cases within our buildings, and the high COVID-19 positivity rate in Walworth County, we are still unable to allow visitors inside our Assisted Living and Health Care facilities – although the exceptions remain in place for compassionate care/end of life situations as any applicable families have already been personally informed.

We very much encourage, and are happy to facilitate alternate means of communication – both during the holidays and anytime. While admittedly not the same as a visit during “normal” times, window visits, phone calls, and video calls are all options that are readily available. In addition, we are often asked – and want to publicly confirm – that families can still send mail or flowers to their loved ones during this time. While we are very intentional about our sanitation protocols, we promise not to “decontaminate” that new rose bouquet with bleach!

We also want to mention that while we strongly encourage against it, our assisted living and health care residents do have the right to leave our buildings to spend time with their loved ones – whether it’s over the holidays or anytime. However, because of the risk for infection, the significant vulnerability of most of our residents, and the high risk of spread within a facility, additional precautions would need to be taken upon that resident’s return. Those precautions would typically include quarantining the resident in their room for 14 days, increased monitoring of their condition, added sanitations, and requiring additional personal protective equipment to be worn by both our staff and the resident. We would ask that any family seriously considering this please talk with us in advance so a fully informed decision can be made.

On a more optimistic note, as we promised, during this time we have been working on developing a plan that meets the applicable state and federal requirements for allowing indoor visits within our Assisted Living and Health Care facilities. Once we are released from the current protocols tied to our recent positive cases, and once the county positivity rate drops below (and remains below) the federally required level, we will be prepared to accept inside visitors – albeit with restrictions – for our Assisted Living and Health Care residents! We will release more details about those processes when it appears we are getting closer to being allowed to implement them, but we are certainly excited for that day to come!

November 17, 2020 - Positive Cases
As of this evening we have now received all of the test results from Friday’s testing.

In Walworth, there were no positive cases identified!

In Lake Geneva, there were 2 new positive staff cases. Both individuals have been notified personally and are now quarantining at home. Through our contact tracing there is no clear exposure connection for one of the cases. In the other case, there is a known exposure tied to community spread. Due to that known exposure, this individual was already proactively away from work as a precaution.

Most of the currently active COVID-positive individuals that we’ve reported about recently are doing remarkably well. There is one COVID-positive resident case that we continue to monitor very closely as they remain symptomatic and are certainly not out of the woods yet. We have been in close contact with this resident’s physician as well as their family. At this time, everyone else remains either asymptomatic, or are now feeling like their symptoms are improving.

We are certainly concerned for our 2 new COVID-positive staff, and our efforts are ongoing with regards to our previous positive cases. In addition, we continue to prepare for the State’s upcoming visit to Lake Geneva. We definitely aren’t clear of the risk from our recent positive cases so our mandatory testing will continue to ensure we catch any positive individuals as quickly as possible, but it’s a huge victory any time a round of testing indicates no positive residents!

November 16, 2020
Today the state surveyor we’ve been expecting arrived unannounced in our Walworth building for our focused infection control survey. After reviewing our protocols and observing several staff, we are thrilled to report that she completed her survey and has indicated that we will not be given any citations! She was complimentary of the job our staff is doing – and coming from a surveyor – that is rare praise! We still expect a visit any day now to our Lake Geneva building, and know that our staff there are also working hard and doing everything they possibly can to best serve and protect our residents.
November 15, 2020 - Positive Cases
We finally received confirmation today on the remaining test results from last Tuesday’s testing.

In Walworth there was no change. There is the 1 positive staff case that was previously announced on Friday.

In Lake Geneva, there were the 2 positive resident cases that were already shared on Friday, and the highly suspicious resident case we referenced was confirmed to be positive as well. The resident’s families in each of those cases have been personally notified. In addition, there were also 2 positive staff cases identified. One staff case came as a surprise as the staff person is asymptomatic, and the preliminary contact tracing does not provide any definitive answers. The second staff case was mostly confirmation as the staff person is symptomatic, and had already been away from work as a precaution due to a known exposure. The contact tracing for this second case identified community spread, not the Golden Years.

With the holidays fast approaching, we have already provided some COVID guidance to our staff, and we will be providing some guidelines for our residents and families on this page within the next few days as well.

November 13, 2020 - Positive Cases
The testing results from Tuesday have been extremely slow in coming in today, and we are still waiting on quite a number of them. We will plan to provide another update once we’ve received the rest of the results, but wanted to at least provide a brief update this evening.

In our Walworth facility we have 1 new positive staff case. This individual has expressed mild symptoms and is currently quarantining at home. Based on our initial contact tracing, our belief is that this positive case was likely as a result of community spread – not through the Golden Years.

In our Lake Geneva facility, we have 2 new confirmed positive resident cases and 1 suspicious resident case that we are still awaiting results on. The 2 confirmed cases are asymptomatic and doing well. The 1 suspicious case is showing some minor symptoms. We have personally notified the related families and (as always) are coordinating with our local public health professionals and our medical director. Based on our contact tracing we believe that the 2 confirmed cases are likely tied directly to the original positive resident case from last week. At this time we do not believe these 2 cases are as a result of staff spread. Our contact tracing for the 1 suspicious case leads us to believe that this individual was pre-symptomatic but likely had the virus prior to admission. We do not believe their case is tied to any Golden Years individual. However, due to these positive resident cases, we are now quarantining all of our Lake Geneva residents in an effort to try to stop any further spread.

The COVID numbers in Wisconsin continue to spike and seemingly daily are breaking new records. In fact, Wisconsin is now seeing more average positive cases per day than New York City did at its peak earlier this year!

Despite these immensely difficult and scary times, our dedicated staff continue to show up every day to keep loving and caring for our residents. We are so grateful for them, and for the support of all of our resident’s families. We realize that these days, weeks, and months of limited in-person contact with their loved ones has been so difficult, and we all look forward to the day this pandemic is over!

November 11, 2020
We intended to post an update yesterday, but some pretty significant storms came through yesterday afternoon/early evening. While precautions were taken in both locations to move residents and staff to safe areas of our buildings, thankfully everyone is fine and everyone is accounted for. The storm seemed to hit our Walworth location more directly as multiple large trees were snapped in half, shingles were blown off the roof, and siding was peeled off the building in some areas. Our internet, phone, and TV signals continue to be intermittent in our Walworth building, but the clean up and repair efforts are underway in full force.

With regards to COVID – we received back all of the test results from Friday’s testing, and there are no new positive cases to report!

Of greatest significance in this update is that our formerly COVID-positive resident in Walworth is now officially off isolation and is doing well. Our COVID-positive resident in Lake Geneva is also doing very well, and has had little to no symptoms to this point. All but 2 of our staff have been cleared as well and have returned to work. A couple are noticing some impact on their stamina as they’ve come back, but none have had significant lingering symptoms.

All of our staff were again tested yesterday, as were our Lake Geneva residents and our skilled nursing and assisted living residents in Walworth. We anticipate having those test results hopefully by the end of the day Friday.

It has been a remarkable effort to have all of our staff and residents tested multiple times a week and we are so grateful for everyone’s compliance. We are also especially grateful for the staff in both locations that have been doing such a fantastic job coordinating the process!

November 8, 2020
Our COVID positive residents continue to be asymptomatic and doing well which we are incredibly thankful for. One, in fact, is nearing the end of their required quarantine and is very much looking forward to getting out of their room again!

As was mentioned in our previous post, we tested all of our Walworth independent living residents this past Wednesday, and as expected we received their test results back today. Thankfully, all came back negative!! We also received the remaining 3 test results that we were waiting on that were referenced in the last posting. Those 3 were all negative as well. We again tested all of our staff on Friday and anticipate receiving results from that testing either tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest. We will plan to provide another update once those results are received.

November 6, 2020 - Positive Cases
As of this moment, we have received back all but 3 test results from this week Tuesday’s testing, and unfortunately there are new positive cases to report.

In Walworth, 2 new staff cases were identified as a result of Tuesday’s testing. Both individuals are now quarantining at home and are showing some symptoms, but thus far they’ve reported their symptoms are manageable. No new resident cases have been identified to this point, and we are still awaiting a visit from the state surveyors. We also tested all of our independent living residents on Wednesday and so far have no results back on any of those tests. We anticipate receiving those results sometime this weekend.

In Lake Geneva we learned of our first confirmed COVID-positive resident case today. This was also as a result of Tuesday’s lab testing. The resident is now quarantined to their room and is not showing any signs or symptoms of illness at this point. This resident’s family has been notified as well as our medical director, public health, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. We will also be reviewing the extra precautions required with the staff who will be caring for them. As a result of this resident positive case, Lake Geneva will also be receiving a visit from state surveyors in the coming days/weeks to investigate our infection control procedures.

We will soon be welcoming back some of our previously COVID positive staff that have now recovered. As many of you may know already, COVID-positive staff are required to quarantine at home and cannot return to work until certain conditions have been met. As staff return to work after a COVID related time away, please know that we have individually worked with them to ensure that not only the proper amount of time has passed, but that all of the other return to work conditions have been met as well. In some cases we have also coordinated with their physician or with our medical director to ensure we are handling their return properly. In following all of the applicable return to work guidance from the CDC and the department of health, we look forward to safely welcoming these staff back.

With the identification of these new positive cases, we will continue to frequently test, as well as closely monitor all of our residents for any signs or symptoms of respiratory illness. We so appreciate your continuing prayers and support.

November 3, 2020
We received results back this morning confirming that both of the rapid-positive staff from Walworth are now both confirmed positive for COVID-19. Because of the influx of recent positives, including one resident, we elected to use rapid testing again today for our Skilled Nursing Health Care and Assisted Living residents in Walworth. We are very relieved to share that all came back negative this morning! We are continuing with lab testing today for all staff in both buildings, as well as our Lake Geneva residents. Our Retirement Village residents in Walworth are scheduled to be tested tomorrow using lab testing as well. We expect to have those results back late this week – likely Friday or Saturday.

According to the federal government, having even one positive resident case in a skilled nursing facility is considered an “outbreak”, so we are also expecting a visit from surveyors from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services any day now. They will do a focused infection control survey to investigate if our policies and procedures meet all of the state and federal standards. It probably won’t be as fun as it sounds!

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers for our staff and residents as we continue to maneuver through these days.

November 2, 2020
We do not have as much information to report on tonight as we were hoping, but we’ll briefly share the most up to date information that we do have.

Of greatest significance, we did learn today that we now have our first confirmed resident COVID-19 case. The Walworth health care resident that tested positive on the rapid test last Friday was confirmed by the lab today to be positive. They remain asymptomatic – which is obviously an amazing and wonderful thing – and we hope and pray that it continues. Their family has been notified and they continue to be quarantined as we continue to frequently monitor them for any symptoms.

We still do not have lab test confirmation on the two Walworth staff rapid-positive cases from Friday, but will certainly share those results when we get them. Those are the only remaining test results we have not yet received. There were no other positive cases – residents or staff – as a result of last Friday’s testing. In addition, no one is reporting any signs or symptoms of illness at this point.

We will continue our twice weekly testing routine with another round of testing tomorrow. We anticipate we will have those results back late in the week.

October 30, 2020 - Positive Cases
Today has been quite the challenging day…

Amazingly, almost every single one of our staff were tested today in both buildings, and those few who were not have had or will have alternate tests that have been approved. Not only that, but all of our residents were also tested today throughout both buildings – Lake Geneva, Walworth Health Care, Walworth Assisted Living, and Walworth Independent Living. This was an incredible undertaking and we are so grateful for our resident’s compliance and for the extra efforts of our staff that coordinated the testing today!

Unfortunately, it appears that this effort will need to be repeated moving forward due to the results of today’s testing.

In our Walworth building we elected to test using rapid antigen tests today. As discussed in a previous posting, the accuracy with a rapid test is not as high as it is with a lab test, but for a variety of reasons we felt it was important to get results as quickly as possible today in our Walworth building. Through the rapid testing, 1 resident and 2 staff tested positive. The resident is located in our health care center and is in quarantine, but is not showing any signs or symptoms of illness. This resident’s family has been notified and we have reviewed the extra precautions required with the staff who will be caring for them. The 2 rapid-positive staff are also asymptomatic and are quarantining at home. One of those staff individuals was tested earlier this week on Tuesday (the 27th) and had tested negative at that time. As you may recall, a few weeks ago we had 2 rapid-positives in our Lake Geneva building that ultimately turned out to be false positives so we have already sent specimens for all 3 of these rapid-positive individuals to the lab for confirmation. We expect to receive those results early next week – likely Monday or Tuesday. In addition, today we received notification from this week Tuesday’s routine lab testing (the 27th) that 1 of our staff in Walworth is confirmed positive. This individual is asymptomatic and is also now quarantining at home. Beyond those already mentioned, we are not aware of any other individuals reporting signs or symptoms of the virus.

In our Lake Geneva building we elected to use lab testing for almost everyone today. As a result, we will not have test results from today for most of the testing until early next week. However, 2 Lake Geneva staff reported symptoms and as a result were given rapid tests. One was tested at the Golden Years and one was tested at a local clinic. Both test results came back positive. Lab confirmation is pending just to be certain, but because they are symptomatic, the rapid-positive is typically enough for the result to be considered a confirmed positive. Both of these individuals were also tested earlier this week on Tuesday (the 27th) using lab testing and both tested negative at that time. Both individuals are now quarantining at home. Beyond those already mentioned, we are not aware of any other individuals reporting signs or symptoms of the virus.

As we do our contact tracing, we are not certain if the cases within each building are linked or not, but at this time we are doubtful that the cases between the two buildings are connected. We are continuing to work closely with public health and our medical directors and are following their directives.

This pandemic has caused many days to be challenging, but today has been especially so. Yet we remain focused on continuing to protect our residents and serve them as best we can, and we remain confident in our ability to do so because of our absolutely phenomenal staff.

October 29, 2020 - Positive Staff Case
Unfortunately we learned today of a new staff positive case – this time in our Lake Geneva building. This new case is completely unrelated to the Walworth case we posted about last evening. Our Lake Geneva staff person is symptomatic at this time. We are working with public health, and our medical director, and are personally notifying our residents and their family or personal representative. In-person visits in Lake Geneva have now being suspended as well, but window visits (through a closed window) and phone or video calls are encouraged. We will be testing our staff and residents in an attempt to learn of and limit any potential spread. Thank you in advance for continuing to keep our residents and our staff in your thoughts and prayers. We will continue to provide updates as we are able.
October 28, 2020 - Positive Staff Case
Late this afternoon we learned of a COVID positive staff case in our Walworth building. This individual is experiencing minor symptoms – which is what caused them to go in to be tested. They are currently quarantining at home. However, since they did work recently we will be testing our Walworth staff, as well as our residents, in an effort to identify if there has been any spread. We are not aware of anyone else showing any signs or symptoms of the virus at this time.

We have reached out to notify public health, and our medical director, and are in the process of individually notifying our residents and/or their representatives, as appropriate. As you might expect, we are suspending any in-person visits in our Walworth facility for the moment. This applies to our Health Care, Assisted Living and Independent Living portions of our building. Window visits – through a closed window – or phone or video calls are certainly still encouraged.

At this time, we are still planning on hosting the outdoor Halloween parade around our Walworth building on Saturday for trick or treaters. By design, there will be no contact between residents and the trick or treaters, and we already have plans in place to be COVID-smart with regards to any volunteer’s interactions with visitors.

We have been so fortunate to this point that our infection control procedures have worked in preventing any spread from positive staff cases in the recent past, so we’ll certainly be hoping and praying that those precautions are effective again!

October 24, 2020
We received the test results from Tuesday’s COVID-19 testing and they all came back negative! This allows us to once again permit outdoor visits for our Lake Geneva residents beginning next week, and it confirms that no one else became infected as a result of our recent COVID-positive staff case! We are so grateful for and excited by this result!

As was mentioned in a previous posting, in accordance with federal guidelines we have been providing routine COVID testing for all of our staff. The testing is being done at a frequency that is based on our county’s positivity rate as calculated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. To this point, the Walworth County positivity rate had been at its highest level, requiring the routine testing to take place twice per week. While the local case numbers are certainly still concerning, the CMS Walworth County COVID positivity rate has now – for the moment – dropped to a slightly lower level. As a result, the routine staff testing requirement has been reduced from twice per week to once per week. Our intent is to remain vigilant and focused on continuing to maintain all of our infection control processes while appreciating this small reprieve for our nasal cavities!

October 22, 2020
We’ve received several questions over the past couple of weeks about the differences between the testing types and how we choose which one to use.

Basically, there are currently two types of diagnostic tests that detect the active COVID-19 virus and they look for evidence of the coronavirus in different ways. Molecular tests, often called PCR tests, are run through a laboratory and are designed to detect COVID-19’s genetic material. Rapid tests, often called antigen tests, are designed to detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. The rapid antigen tests are typically less accurate (especially for asymptomatic individuals), but much faster – producing results in around 15 minutes. The PCR tests run through a laboratory are typically more accurate, but take longer to get results – usually multiple days. As we now are required to do consistent routine testing, the other challenge in choosing a testing type is the availability of the different types of testing supplies. We initially were doing more rapid testing primarily because we were able to get rapid testing supplies. However, we are planning to transition to more lab testing in the coming weeks as those supplies are soon supposed to become more available, and as we prioritize the accuracy of the results over the speed of the results.

We do believe there continues to be value in both types of tests, and we anticipate continuing to use both types at various times in the future.

October 19, 2020
We have received the rest of last Tuesday’s test results that we were waiting on, as well as all of the test results from Friday’s testing, and all of the results came back negative for both buildings!! In addition, to this point no staff or residents are showing any signs or symptoms of illness either!

We will still have another round of testing tomorrow for all of our residents and staff in Lake Geneva, and the results of this round of testing should allow us to be quite confident of whether there was any transmission from the COVID-positive staff case. Our twice per week routine testing will also continue tomorrow for our staff in our Walworth building.

We will plan to provide another update once those results become available.

October 16, 2020
We know that many of you have been anxiously waiting for an update from Tuesday’s tests and we apologize for the delay in this posting. As of this moment, we have most of the test results back from Tuesday’s round of testing and so far everyone is negative. There are still several staff and resident samples that either have not been processed yet or at least have not had results posted yet. Those still awaiting results appear to be a random collection with no known connection so we have no idea why those samples do not yet show results, but we’ll keep checking back on them. To be clear – we believe those samples either have not yet been fully processed by the lab or the results have just not posted yet – we are not aware of any issues with those samples at this time.

Our staff member that tested positive is doing well and indicated today that they are asymptomatic. They are in the process of being cleared by their doctor, public health, and the Golden Years and we look forward to their safe return to work once all of the required guidelines have been met.

In addition to monitoring things carefully within our walls as a result of the most recent positive test, every day the news seems to report that Wisconsin has broken a new record for COVID positivity so we recognize the risk remains high in the community as well. While we realize we are certainly not in the clear, every negative test result is a huge relief and every day that goes by with no individuals showing signs or symptoms of illness is a massive blessing!

Thank you for continuing to keep our residents and our staff in your thoughts and in your prayers!

October 14, 2020
We recognize there is a piece of testing information that we failed to share in our previous update. While it doesn’t change the current reality of a positive staff case, the staff member that tested positive this Monday did receive both a rapid antigen test earlier last week, and a lab PCR test on Friday last week. Both tests were part of our routine testing, and both tests came back negative. Once this individual discovered they had been exposed to a known COVID case, they were tested again on Monday. Most likely their previously negative tests just mean there wasn’t enough of the virus built up in their system yet last week to test positive, but unfortunately they still could have been infectious during that time. However, that testing pattern hopefully also indicates that this case was caught as quickly as humanly possible, ideally helping to limit any potential spread.

We are grateful that at this point we continue to have no staff or residents showing signs or symptoms of COVID. However, we realistically acknowledge that most likely it is too early for signs or symptoms to be showing up yet anyway if there was in fact any exposure as a result of our recently positive staff person. The experts we have spoken with seem to indicate that the critical time for indicators of infection to begin to show up would be later this week into early next week. In addition to our twice-weekly testing, we do monitor staff daily – and residents multiple times daily – for any signs or symptoms and we clearly intend to keep up that practice indefinitely.

October 12, 2020 - Positive Staff Case
We understand how frustrating it must be to keep receiving these back and forth updates, but also want to err on the side of openly and honestly communicating our status with everyone. Unfortunately, today’s update is to inform that we have had a staff person test positive for COVID in our Lake Geneva building. This positive test did not come as a result of our routine testing, but instead was taken as a result of their exposure to a recently identified and confirmed COVID case. Meaning, we are confident this is a legitimate positive case – not a false positive. They are quarantining immediately and at this time are asymptomatic.

Once again, we are working closely with Walworth County Public Health and our medical director, and all residents and staff will be tested tomorrow as we seek to identify early if there has been any transmission. All outdoor visits in Lake Geneva have again been suspended, but closed window visits and video calls are still allowed and definitely encouraged. We are also in the process of updating our staff, residents, and their families in an effort to keep everyone informed.

Based on the timing of this positive test, we believe that our staff member was quite likely infectious – even though they were asymptomatic – during the recent times they were in the building. While our staff are trying to be extra cautious and are now even being tested twice a week, it’s clearly still very possible to come to work while infected and simply not know it. We continue to emphasize the precautions we’ve put in place like scrubs, masks, symptom screening, and extra sanitations in our attempts to not only keep the virus out of our buildings, but also prevent any spread if/when the virus does infect one of us. Once again, we find ourselves eagerly hoping and praying that those preventative measures are effective.

We so value your continued prayers and support and we’ll continue to keep you informed as best we can.

October 9, 2020
We just learned that both recent positive tests in Lake Geneva were actually “false positives!” The lab testing confirmed that neither staff person has been infected and the earlier “positive” test results were inaccurate. While that is definitely the best possible outcome, unfortunately it doesn’t remove the stress and extra effort that the incorrect results caused for everyone throughout this week!

Even though these specific results turned out to be false positives, there is truly no option other than to treat any positive test as legitimate until it is proven otherwise. While both staff members did remain asymptomatic throughout the process, this virus spreads so quickly – even through asymptomatic people – and is so deadly for our residents that we will continue to take all precautions with this virus.

We are continuing to coordinate with our local public health department and our medical director, and have also now directly contacted the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to make sure they are aware of the events of this week as a result of the false positive tests.

At this point, outside visits for residents will be able to resume again in Lake Geneva next week, and – as has been hinted at for a couple of weeks now – we continue to work on figuring out how we can safely and appropriately offer indoor visits within the restrictions outlined by the state and federal guidance.

This past week certainly tested our responsiveness and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation and support. While we would rather not have to go through something like this again, we would obviously always prefer a scare like this over a true outbreak! We know that many around us are not as fortunate and are struggling right now with actual outbreaks that threaten the lives of their residents and staff. Our hearts sincerely go out to them, and we continue to be so incredibly grateful for the amazing efforts of our staff as we fight every day to protect and care for our residents.

October 6, 2020
From the concern related to the news of positive staff test results, to the cautious relief related to the news we are able to share tonight, these last 5 days have created quite a roller coaster of emotions for all of us, and we’re sure those of you reading these updates have felt the same way!

After testing most of our Walworth staff today and testing all of our Lake Geneva residents and staff today, we are thankful to report that all tests came back negative! We are still awaiting confirmative laboratory test results on the 2 recent Lake Geneva positive staff cases, but it is a great relief to know that no other staff in either building, and no Lake Geneva residents tested positive today! In addition, both staff members that tested positive recently continue to be asymptomatic and physically feeling good, though they are both understandably concerned and anxiously awaiting these follow up lab test results.

We can’t thank you all enough for your continued words of encouragement, your continued prayers, and your continued trust in us as we continue to do our best to serve our wonderful residents during these crazy times!

October 5, 2020 - Second *False* Positive Staff Case
*We have since learned that this test result was a “false positive”. Follow up lab testing confirmed that this staff person actually did not have COVID-19.*

As part of our continuing routine staff COVID testing, a second staff person in our Lake Geneva building tested positive for COVID-19 this evening. As with last Friday’s positive case, this second individual is also not showing any signs or symptoms of the virus, but is also quarantining immediately. They will also be getting a full lab test right away to rule out any possibility of a “false negative” from the rapid test they received. We do not know if there is any direct connection between these two cases, but both individuals have not had any known contact with a COVID-positive person.

Upon entry to the building, all of our staff must check their temperature (and wash their hands and put on PPE) and our residents have their temperature and vitals monitored multiple times per day. At this point, all of our staff and all of our residents continue to show no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

We continue to coordinate closely with public health and our medical director, and we will continue to test both our residents and our staff in an effort to hopefully identify early if there are any other positive cases. We also remain focused on doing all we can from an infection control perspective to try to prevent any spread within our buildings.

We will keep providing updates as new information becomes available.

October 4, 2020
We are excited and relieved to be able to share with you all that this evening we received the test results from Friday’s COVID tests for our Lake Geneva residents. All came back negative! At the direction of public health and our medical director, and out of an abundance of caution, we will still proceed with a second round of testing for our Lake Geneva residents on Tuesday in addition to continuing our new routine of staff testing. We will continue to provide updates to you all as additional information becomes available. Thank you all for your prayers and your continued support!
October 2, 2020 - *False* Positive Staff Case
*We have since learned that this test result was a “false positive”. Follow up lab testing confirmed that this staff person actually did not have COVID-19.*

We just learned this evening that one of our staff in our Lake Geneva building has tested positive for COVID-19. They are not symptomatic and obviously have begun quarantining immediately. We are working on getting confirmation through a full lab test to rule out any potential of a false positive from the antigen testing that produced the positive test result today, but in the interim we will certainly act with caution in an effort to prevent any potential spread. At this time, we are not aware of any residents or any other staff showing any symptoms.

As was mentioned in our previous posting, there have been many new requirements released by the state and federal government recently – specifically in relation to COVID testing and visitor restrictions. We have been working diligently to digest all of these new, sometimes conflicting, and repeatedly changing guidelines in an effort to ensure we remain compliant with all of the requirements. At the direction of the state, our priority on these new regulations has been the testing component. Beginning this week, our staff began receiving routine COVID testing at a frequency that is outlined by the federal government and is based on our county’s positivity rate. Because of the high positivity rate in our county, the current testing rate is twice per week. It was as a result of this “routine” testing that the positive case was discovered today.

We are coordinating with our medical director and public health department for their guidance on the best ways to proceed. At their direction, we are testing our residents, and we continue to emphasize our infection control processes to try to avoid any possible spread throughout our building. For now, all outdoor visits in Lake Geneva have been suspended, but closed window visits and video calls are still allowed and definitely encouraged.

We have been reaching out to notify our staff, our residents, and their families tonight in an effort to keep everyone informed, and we will do our best to provide timely updates here on our website as well.

For any of you that have been tracking along with COVID rates in Wisconsin, the past week has been pretty scary. The most recent data indicates that Wisconsin has the 3rd highest total number of COVID-positive cases in the nation over the past week. However, states 1 and 2 on that list (Texas and California) have a total population that is 5x-6x larger than Wisconsin which illustrates how significant and extensive the current infection rate is in our state.

While we certainly don’t want any of our staff or residents to ever be infected with COVID-19, we are grateful that our staff member is currently not experiencing symptoms, and in light of the lack of symptoms, we’re thankful for the early notification that this testing provided.

We’ll keep doing all we can to attempt to prevent the spread of this virus while continuing to provide the best care we can for our residents. These times are certainly tough, but we remain confident because of the support we receive from all of you, and because of our absolutely incredible staff.

September 22, 2020
Over the past several weeks we have begun receiving an influx of updated guidelines from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with regards to new COVID testing requirements and new restrictions for visitors. We are working hard to understand the details of this guidance, and ensure that we are remaining in compliance with the regulations while also staying focused on providing the best care that we can for our residents and their families during these difficult times. In the coming days we anticipate we will be releasing some pretty significant updates to our policies based on these new guidelines. Stay tuned…
September 15, 2020
We want to continue to share some of our residents’ thoughts during this pandemic. For this post, we asked several residents “What scares you the most about Coronavirus?” Below were their responses:

Ruthmary – “That people aren’t taking it as seriously as they should.”

Dorothea – “That it will never go away”

Peter – “Dying.”

Helen – “How vulnerable we are to it because of our age.”

Marie – “The fact that it is so dangerous with no cure and people are dying at such a fast rate.”

Dawn – “I’m actually not worried at all. The staff is absolutely beyond words and they are taking care and making sure we are taken care of.”

Sue – “How our age is so susceptible to it”

Marion – “That someone in my family is going to die from it.”

Mary – “Every day I pray for endurance and the right attitude. It has helped me realize that my faith has to be strong.”

September 8, 2020
We’ve continued to be blessed with no cases of COVID in either of our buildings. Our staff continues to be intentional about the precautions and screenings we have in place as well as remaining diligent about completing extra sanitizing and cleaning. As we head into fall we recognize more challenges are ahead – even in just trying to distinguish between symptoms of COVID, a common cold, the flu, or just allergies.

For several weeks now, our hair stylist Robin has been able to meet strict restrictions allowing her to be back in our Walworth building providing hair styling services. Unfortunately, due to the guidance issued by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, she has not been able to be in our Lake Geneva building…until now! With recent changes to the guidelines issued by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Robin is now able to offer her services – with continuing tight restrictions – in both of our buildings. Our Lake Geneva residents are SO excited to welcome Robin back as the length of their hair shows it has been a long time since she was here last!

Finally, as we experience rainy and cool weather this week, we’ve sadly needed to cancel many scheduled outdoor visits for our residents. For right now, outdoor visits remain weather permitting, but we are exploring what other options may be available as we recognize that the coming months will bring worse weather, not better.

We will continue to provide updates as they are available and we continue to appreciate all of your prayers and support!

August 26, 2020
We’ve had some technical difficulties lately that have prevented us from posting to our website so apologize for the recent gap in providing updates. We think those issues are resolved, and during this time thankfully we haven’t had major updates to share anyway!

The best news we have currently is that our COVID-positive staff person can now officially be considered a formerly COVID-positive staff person. We are grateful to be able to share that they have recovered and, after receiving all of the necessary physician consents and clearing all of the required infection control hurdles, have now returned to work! With our staff person now recovered, and with the knowledge that their case didn’t cause any additional infections within our buildings, we can’t imagine this scary time turning out any better!

Unfortunately, the department of public health continues to report many new cases every day in Walworth County, and we’ve again heard of recent outbreaks in other local facilities. As a result, we don’t anticipate significant changes to our infection control processes anytime in the near future as we continue to try to best protect and care for our precious residents and our staff.

August 14, 2020

We have received the results of our second round of COVID-19 testing and are thrilled to announce that all residents and staff once again tested negative!

There are so many benefits to working in geriatric healthcare…but being on the receiving end of a nasal swab is decidedly not one of them! However, when a second round of test results confirm that there was no transmission within our building of a deadly virus that has caused a worldwide pandemic, the discomfort of those swabs is forgotten much more quickly!

It’s impossible to overstate how grateful we are for this outcome and how proud we are of our incredible staff. Their diligence to wearing their masks and personal protective equipment – despite the constant discomfort of doing so – and their focus on following strict infection control procedures very likely just prevented an outbreak within the Golden Years and likely saved the lives of an unknown number of residents.

With these results we will once again be allowing outdoor visits in our Walworth facility beginning Monday, August 17. The same visit restrictions we had in place previously – by appointment only and with masks and social distancing – will remain in effect.

Our COVID-positive staff person continues to struggle with the effects of this virus. They have needed medical treatment to manage their symptoms and seem to briefly see improvement only to get worse again. Thankfully they are back home currently, but please do keep them in your prayers.

As we rejoice in the news that we get to share today, we are well aware that this virus continues to be a danger. We remain focused on our goal to do all we can to protect and care for our residents and your prayers and support continue to fuel us toward that goal.

August 10, 2020
As if dealing with a worldwide pandemic wasn’t challenging enough on its own, today our amazing staff needed to figure out how to help everyone try to continue to social distance while safely sheltering during a severe storm that brought with it a tornado warning and flash flooding that temporarily shut down the street right in front of our Walworth building. All we needed was a plane crash and an escaped zoo animal and our emergency events bingo card would have been filled!

Thankfully, other than some fallen tree branches and some wet areas in the basement, our residents, staff, and both buildings came through the storm unharmed.

In addition to the blessing of remaining safe during today’s storm, late this evening we received verbal notification that all of Saturday’s COVID tests came back negative!! Despite this encouraging news, we unfortunately will not yet be allowing in-person visits in our Walworth location. At the direction of our medical director and county public health, we will be proceeding with a 2nd round of testing scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. It was important to test right away on Saturday to give us as much heads up as possible if there were any positive cases so that we could begin isolating and quarantining ASAP. However, with the way COVID-19 seems to progress and the range of time for how it grows in a person’s system, it’s important that we test again to verify that we didn’t have any false negatives from Saturday due to a “positive” person not having enough viral load in their system at that point. The results of this second round of testing should allow us to be quite confident of whether there was any transmission from the original COVID-positive case.

While we recognize we can’t fully celebrate yet, we are definitely encouraged by and thankful for the negative test results we received today. We anticipate having the results of tomorrow’s testing by the end of the week and plan to provide updates as we are able.

August 9, 2020
Thankfully we have not yet received any reports of COVID symptoms from any residents or any other staff! While we are extremely grateful for that, we know that we are not yet in the clear so we are staying alert and continuing to actively monitor for signs and symptoms closely.

Over the last several days we have been in frequent contact with Walworth County Public Health, our medical director, and the State of Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center. After some effort, we were able to obtain enough testing supplies to test the 75 residents and staff that were determined to be the individuals with the greatest likelihood of exposure to the original COVID positive case based on specific criteria outlined by our medical director and public health.

We were able to pick up the testing supplies late on Friday evening (8/7) in Madison, and our incredible Assistant Director of Nursing in our Walworth building, Perla, returned early Saturday morning (8/8) to begin collecting all of the specimen samples. In addition to Perla specifically deserving a ton of credit for her efforts, every single one of the staff that were selected for testing made the effort – on short notice – to come in on Saturday morning to be tested. By Saturday afternoon the samples were sent to the lab for processing and we have been told we should expect results by Monday evening (8/10). Obviously, those test results will be significant in helping to direct the next steps that we take.

Many have expressed concern and have had questions about the staff member that tested positive. As I’m sure everyone understands, there are not a lot of specifics that we are at liberty to share. However, we can say that to this point they have been managing their symptoms at home, and just recently have started seeing some signs of improvement.

We know that this individual, and all of our residents and staff, appreciate your thoughts and prayers!

August 6, 2020 - Positive Staff Case
Today is a day we’ve been dreading, but also diligently preparing for. We learned tonight that one of our staff has tested positive for COVID-19. They are symptomatic, but at this point are doing ok and are quarantining and resting at home. This individual is a part-time staff member in our Walworth location. Due to their limited schedule, the requirements of their role, and our cautious approach when anyone reports even minor symptoms, this person has had very minimal exposure to our residents and to our building over the past week. However, based on the timing of their illness it is likely that they were infectious during the limited time that they were in the building.

At this point we are not aware of any residents or any other staff showing any symptoms, and we are praying that there is no greater transmission within our facility. However, we are going to respond cautiously and proactively in an effort to do all we can to help prevent any spread. We’ve put in place precautions like scrubs, masks, symptom screening, and extra sanitations for this very moment – not only to try to prevent the virus from entering our buildings, but also to prevent its spread if it does get in.

We are coordinating with our medical director and public health department for their guidance on the best ways to proceed. At their direction, we will be testing some of our residents and staff, and we continue to emphasize our infection control processes to try to avoid any possible spread throughout our building. For now, all outdoor visits in Walworth have been suspended, but closed window visits and video calls are still allowed and definitely encouraged.

This evening we have been reaching out to notify our staff, our residents, and their families in an effort to keep everyone informed, and we will do our best to provide timely updates here on our website as well.

We’ve all worked hard and have been blessed to be completely COVID-free to this point. While we are definitely not excited about this new unknown challenge that we now face, we still feel so blessed because we are taking on this challenge surrounded by such a supportive group of residents and their families, and the most amazing collection of people that we get to call our staff family.

August 5, 2020
We have enjoyed seeing our residents be able to visit with their loved ones face-to-face again…well, masked face-to-masked face. It has required a bit more effort than expected by our staff to be able to coordinate everything and make sure we’re staying within the state and federal guidelines, but it’s certainly been worth the extra effort for our residents and their families to have this option available to them.

A major reason for the early success of the outdoor visits is the compliance and support of the majority of those who have come to visit. We so appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we streamline our processes and work through some details.

COVID-19 continues to spread nationwide – as well as locally – so while we’ve been blessed that our residents and staff have been protected from this virus so far during this pandemic, it’s been scary to open up a new front for potential exposure by allowing visitors. Whether everybody agrees with our policies or not, we continue to ask that everyone please comply with the preventive measures we’ve put in place for the safety and peace of mind of all of our residents and our staff. We’ll continue to monitor these outdoor visits – as we are required to do – and God-willing we will be able to continue to offer them as an option until more reopening guidance is released.

July 30, 2020 - Outdoor Visits
As was alluded to in our previous posting, we are now able to accept outdoor visits for all of our residents! In addition to sharing the details here on our website, we have already personally spoken to each resident, and have also reached out to a resident representative for each resident to explain details of this new process.

To be clear – the visitor guidelines below are for our assisted living in Walworth and our skilled nursing health care centers in both Walworth and Lake Geneva. This does not impact the previously released visitor guidelines for our independent living Retirement Village.

Beginning immediately, visitors may call to schedule a time to visit outdoors with their loved one. All visits must be scheduled, no “walk-ins” are allowed at this time. No more than two (2) visitors may be with any one resident at a time and visits may not exceed 1 hour.

Visitors to our assisted living should call 262-275-6103 and schedule their visit with Becki.
Visitors to our skilled nursing health care center in Walworth should call 262-275-6103 and schedule their visit with Carol.
Visitors to our skilled nursing health care center in Lake Geneva should call 262-249-1960 and schedule their visit with Ally.

Visitors should arrive at the building entrance at their schedule time and should be prepared to sanitize their hands, have their temperature taken, attest to symptom screening questions, and sign-in agreeing to follow our policies for visiting. Wearing a face mask is required throughout the entire visit. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own face mask, but one will be provided for any visitor who does not have one. In addition, visitors are also required to maintain social distancing at all times. To assist with infection control and social distancing, there are designated visiting areas set up that have social distances visibly marked, and those areas are disinfected by our staff after every visit.

At this time, visits are weather and illness permitting. Any residents/visitors showing symptoms cannot visit and in the case of bad weather, visits will have to be rescheduled. There is currently no alternative allowed for indoor visits.

While outdoor visits are now permitted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS), they still are not recommended by the CDC or DHS. The policies we have put in place follow their guidelines for outdoor visiting, and while hopefully it will never be an issue, Golden Years does retain the right to deny visits based on a resident or visitor not complying with the infection control guidance.

It’s been a long 139 days since we closed our building to visitors. We feel so blessed that our residents and staff have remained protected so far from this virus, and we remain committed to trying to keep it that way. We understand that the continuing restrictions may be frustrating for some, but we’re excited to at least be able to take this small step and enable our residents to spend some time in-person once again with the people they care about!

July 24, 2020
We apologize that we have not posted an update yet this week – but we’ve been busy!! We received updated guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services earlier this week that stated that because we remain COVID-free, we will be permitted to begin allowing outdoor visits for our residents! There are several restrictions on these visits that we are working to understand fully, and we have a bit of preparation and required documentation to work through first to make this happen, but we are anticipating having more details to share with everyone early-to-mid next week! Stay tuned!
July 16, 2020
In some of our upcoming posts we will be sharing some of our resident’s thoughts about this current pandemic. Most recently, we asked “What do you think of when you hear the word COVID or Coronavirus?”

Dorothea – “Turn around and go away. It’s a pain in the neck!”

Helen – “I’m sorry we ever got it from wherever it started and I wish they could do something about it.”

Marie – “It’s a very scary thing!”

Dawn – “Terrible illness.”

Sue – “I hope we don’t get it!”

Marion – “It’s just awful.”

Ruthmary – “It’s a horrible disease.”

Mary – “I think of lockdown.”

Peter – “Beer.” (No, not Corona, the Coronavirus) “Oh, it’s very bad!”

July 9, 2020
As the COVID numbers continue to rise locally and nationally, we continue to feel so blessed that we have remained COVID-free to this point!

There is currently restricted visitation allowed for our Retirement Village residents, and even more restricted visitation allowed for our Assisted Living residents. To this point we have still not received guidance permitting us to allow visitation for our skilled nursing residents, but we are being told to expect updated guidelines in the next couple of weeks that will hopefully allow for some in-person visitation. In major exciting news for our residents, we have received some new guidance regarding allowing a beautician into our Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing areas. We are currently working through the paperwork and training that is required to allow that to happen, but are looking forward to being able to offer those services to our residents again in the near future.

This continues to be a challenge for everyone, and we’re excited at the thought of allowing visitation for everyone in our buildings – even if there are restrictions. With that in mind, we thank you for your compliance with our evolving policies during this time as we try to keep our residents safe, and as we follow the requirements given to us. In addition, we so appreciate your continued prayers and your support.

July 1, 2020
Our fantastic activities director in our Lake Geneva building, Liz Fuller, has been at the forefront of our attempts to provide meaningful and enriching activities for our residents during this time. She graciously agreed to share some of her thoughts for our posting today:

 

The good, the bad, and the ugly of life post lock-down here at Golden Years of Lake Geneva.

The good: We have all heard the mantra we are all in this together, well that phrase really sums up life at the Golden Years during the lock-down.  Residents, family and staff all have the same goal: to keep Covid-19 out of our building and keep our residents healthy and as happy as possible in spite of the challenge of missing physical contact with family and friends.

As staff we are careful both at home and at work.  We know the sacrifice our residents and their families are making in not being able to be together and we want to do our part as well.  When we arrive at work, we change into fresh scrubs provided by Golden Years, into shoes that are kept strictly for work, and don one of the lovely masks provided by our volunteer seamstresses.  Choosing a mask from amongst all the fun patterns is an exciting way to start the day – we all have our favorites!

While there have been many changes to our regular daily routine, new routines have been established – our residents are a resilient bunch.  We can no longer have meals served all together in the dining room. While that means most residents now eat their meals in their rooms, it also means the dining room is more often available for activities – which is great for having appropriately social distanced gatherings.  We can easily have our group of 10 or fewer residents in the dining room for group activities.  The activity schedule is also different from before lock down (we miss our volunteers), so we have established a new routine that includes some of our favorite, albeit somewhat altered activities: BINGO every week, movies several afternoons during the week, a traveling happy hour, ice cream socials, and everyone’s favorite – regular time outside to enjoy these beautiful summer days that we have waited so long for!  We know holidays and special days like birthdays or anniversaries can be especially difficult, so we do our best to plan special activities so that your family members know they are loved!

We very much miss our pet visitors, however, not deterred by the current state of affairs, our local sandhill crane family has stepped up to the plate with regular visits.  They have been known to tap on resident windows or even curl up for a nap on the doorstep.  It isn’t exactly the same as a pet therapy visit – but we take what we can get.

Families make regular window visits.  Now that the weather is warmer, families are able to gather on the covered porch and talk with their family member on the other side of the window using the speaker phone.  We also have regular skype visits – there is something about seeing the person you are talking to that just makes the visit very special.

The bad: Everyone misses their regular visitors.  Life at Golden Years just isn’t the same without family and friends in and out visiting.  We have so many amazing families that not only visit their own loved ones, but also get to know and care for many of the other residents.  We miss you all and can’t wait for day we can once again have family and friends in our building. Until then keep up the window visits, calls, letters, and video chats!

The ugly: SO MUCH HAIR!  The one person everyone misses (second of course to their family and friends) is Robin.  We are all more than ready for a haircut. We have improvised with clips, hats, and headbands…. we even have several ladies about ready to put their hair up in a pony tail.  As one resident said, “It has been over 70 years since I had my hair in a ponytail!”

The past few months have had their ups and downs, and we look forward to the day things can return to normal.  Until then we will all be here doing our best to keep everyone healthy, happy, and to tame all that hair!

– Liz Fuller, Activities Director, Golden Years of Lake Geneva

June 25, 2020
In our posting nearly 2 weeks ago, we referenced the “COVID-19 Focused Survey” that was beginning in our skilled nursing facility in Walworth. As we mentioned, the survey was being done by individuals from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to ensure that we were following all of the guidelines that have been issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). A portion of the survey was completed remotely offsite as they reviewed records like our written policies and procedures for infection control, our emergency preparedness plans, and our symptom tracking procedures – among many other things. In addition to reviewing paperwork remotely, they also sent a surveyor onsite to observe and evaluate things like our staff’s infection control techniques and their use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as verifying that we have been restricting visitors as required.

We are pleased to share that they completed their survey in Walworth and found NO deficiencies!

Then, shortly after they finished in Walworth, we got a call that the process would be starting in our Lake Geneva facility. Thankfully, after completing their evaluations in Lake Geneva, they also found NO deficiencies!

Because of the awkwardness of having someone watching as you provide care, and because of the potential consequences if the surveyor determines that anything is not just right, it’s always an uncomfortable time – and a lot of extra work – when surveyors are in the building. However, it sure is sweet when they leave having found no issues!

We are all excited with the results of these surveys and are grateful to our amazing staff for the great job they are doing during these difficult circumstances.

June 18, 2020 - Retirement Village Reopening Phase Two
Below is a copy of the information given to our independent living residents outlining Phase Two of our Retirement Village reopening process.

It is important to note that this reopening is for our independent living Retirement Village apartments in Walworth only. All of our current restrictions remain in place for our Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing areas.

 

Effective Wednesday June 17th, Phase Two of our Retirement Village re-opening will include:

Within the Retirement Village: Masks must be worn anywhere outside of your apartment

The CDC recommends that everyone wear masks when leaving their homes, regardless of whether they have a fever or symptoms of Covid-19. This is based on evidence that people with Covid-19 can spread the disease, even when they don’t have any symptoms. (published 5/26/20)

Masks worn by you will protect others and others wearing masks will protect you.

Visitors: only Family Members allowed inside the Retirement Village:

  • Your family cares for you and wants you to be comfortable & safe, so before scheduling a visit, ask them questions about where they’ve been, if they’ve had contact with anyone with Covid-19, if they’ve been involved in large gatherings such as the recent protests, etc.
  • They will be required to stop in the RV vestibule, take their temperature, answer several questions and sign the roster, wear a visitor badge
  • Visits can take place in your apartment or outside
    • no visiting in lobby or other common areas
    • no visiting in other resident’s apartments
    • no guests for meals in the dining room or at activities in the building
  • You and your family members must wear masks during your visit
  • Clean masks are available next to the clipboard (return used masks to “soiled” box) *

Your family members are always welcome to take you to doctor appts, pick up your groceries & prescriptions, do your banking, take you for rides, stop for treats and run errands with you. You and your family member must wear masks while in the car*

If you choose to go into the community (for whatever reason):

  • Sign out on the clipboard
  • Masks must be worn
  • Avoid large crowds
  • Be mindful of the surfaces you touch
  • Use hand sanitizer while you are out (bottles are available to take with you if needed)
  • Wash your hands as soon as you return home
  • Clean masks are available next to the clipboard (return used masks to “soiled” box).

Social Gatherings/Activities inside/outside the Retirement Village

  • Must maintain social distance of 6 feet between each person
  • Masks must be worn (unless eating, drinking)
  • Clean masks are available next to the clipboard (return used masks to “soiled” box)

Beauty Salon:

Robin will continue to open the Salon Wednesday – Friday by appointment only.

  • Masks must be worn
  • Clean masks are available next to the clipboard (return used masks to “soiled” box).

And as always, our greatest concern continues to be for your health and safety, so for the time being, and until further notice, we will continue to:

  • take your temperatures and pulse/oxygen levels each day (except Sundays)
  • serve you at your table in the Dining Room
  • disinfect your mail and packages
  • place, pick up and distribute Sentry orders if unable to go yourself
  • pick up prescriptions at Walgreens if unable to go yourself
  • make deposits at Banks if unable to go yourself
  • help you arrange transportation to essential Doctor appointments if needed
  • provide activities & entertainment & outings (following the rules of social distancing)
  • offer help/instruction/guidance should you wish to video chat with your family

We will continue to monitor the data provided to us by the Walworth County Department of Health on a daily basis. It is our hope that the number of Covid-19 cases in our area will not increase as a result of the recent protests and summer visitors to our area so by mid-July we will be free to determine if we are in position to open the doors a little wider to welcome our friends, our outside volunteers, church services, shopping trips, outings and Natalie the manicurist.

Please know there is a plan at the ready in the event anyone of us is afflicted by the Covid-19 virus. The plan may include the entire Retirement Village going into a full quarantine until the virus is contained. It is our hope that by making wise decisions, wearing masks, following social distancing guidelines, frequent hand washing, and constant prayer, the Retirement Village will remain virus-free.

We remain confident that it is only a result of God’s grace, your courage, diligence and flexibility, and the hard work done by our beloved Cleaning Brigade each day that Golden Years has, thus far, been spared the effects of Covid-19……and we are grateful. Thank you for trusting us to continue to care for you.

June 12, 2020
This week has provided some very interesting contrasts for us as today we mark 13 weeks since first closing our building to visitors. While we have loosened some restrictions in our independent living Retirement Village, access to our skilled nursing facilities and our assisted living has remained tightly controlled for basically 3 months.

On one end of the spectrum, it seems as if more residents, families, and even staff have been asking how much longer our COVID procedures will need to stay in place. While many families continue to come by for window visits, or call on the phone, or video chat, the strain of only seeing their loved ones on a screen or through glass, and the inability to hug or kiss or touch them has been an increasing source of sadness for our residents. All of our staff – and our activities team in particular – have continued to try to find creative ways to engage, entertain, and enrich each of our residents, but while our residents express their appreciation for those efforts, they also simply acknowledge that no activity can replace the physical contact they miss with their family. It’s been a long 13 weeks and we are ALL ready for this pandemic to be over!

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, the skilled nursing portion of our Walworth facility was contacted this week by a surveyor from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services – and we expect a call to our Lake Geneva facility will not be far behind. At the direction of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, our Walworth skilled nursing is now currently under inspection as part of a “COVID-19 Focused Survey” to ensure we are following all of the guidelines that have been issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). They are looking in depth into our written policies and procedures for infection control, our emergency preparedness plans, our symptom tracking procedures, and our written action plans for communicating with residents and families during this time – among many other things. In addition to paperwork, they will be observing and evaluating things like our staff’s infection control techniques and their use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as verifying that we have been restricting visitors as required. If we are found to be deficient in any of these areas – even though we have not yet had any positive COVID-19 cases in our buildings – the penalties can include the development of written plans of correction (which directly impact our facility’s rating), civil money penalties (basically fines, which can range from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per instance), and/or a temporary denial of payment for new admissions (typically for a minimum of 30-45 days and until substantial compliance with the guidelines is determined to have been met). In addition to us being inspected, Walworth County has seen its positive case totals grow from 400 last week, to 470+ this week. So, as much as we all want it to be, the pandemic is not over yet.

We are extremely sensitive to the mental health and well-being of our residents, and we know that this isolation from their loved ones absolutely has a negative impact on them. With that said, the virus’ continued spread in our local communities does not yet give us the comfort that the threat has passed, and the state and federal regulatory agencies that portions of our facility are required to answer to have not yet begun to relax their restrictions – in fact, quite the opposite – they are investigating to make sure we are following all of their guidelines! So, we will continue on and our current restrictions, unfortunately, will also continue on and will remain in place somewhat indefinitely.

June 6, 2020
While the news media’s focus has largely been pulled away from the novel coronavirus for the moment, Walworth County continues to see an increase in positive cases. This week’s reporting brought the county’s total cases to over 400 now, and with vacationers continuing to stream into the area to enjoy the summer weather the numbers are expected to continue to climb.

Despite the State of Wisconsin legally “reopening,” we recognize the vulnerability of the residents we serve and we take seriously our responsibility to care for them. As a result, while many around us are trying to get back to normal, our staff are sacrificially continuing to adjust their lives – both at work, and outside of work – in an effort to keep our residents and each other safe.

All of our infection control procedures within our buildings obviously are still in place, but our staff are attempting to stay cautious when they leave work as well. Many have modified or cancelled their summer vacation plans, are avoiding going out and spending time with friends or family, and are wearing masks when they do need to go out. It’s a 24/7 responsibility that they carry with them everywhere they go. And now that the state has “reopened,” our staff’s actions outside of work are not due to any state or federal rule, but because of their genuine love and concern for our residents and for each other.

The goal of this posting is not to try to get pity or sympathy. We love what we do and we love our residents so we are joyfully making these sacrifices…at least for the most part! The purpose of sharing this is simply to provide some insight into our world and to brag about the absolutely unbelievable staff that we have.

It has meant so much during this time to have many of you reaching out to support our staff and we want to encourage you to keep cheering them on! We might be a little biased, but we are convinced that we absolutely have the best staff and we are so blessed to get to spend our days working – and serving – together, even during these challenging times.

June 2, 2020 - A Resident's Perspective
We asked one of our residents in the Retirement Village in Walworth to share their perspective of what living through this pandemic has been like for them at the Golden Years. Below is the posting they wrote:

 

During a pandemic, life for a resident like me, living in a communal living facility like Golden Years, is totally dependent upon whether the facility is “BC or AC”. That is, whether it is Before or After the Covid-19 virus has invaded the facility.  So far, after 11 weeks, Golden Years has been blessed by remaining BC. The virus has not yet invaded our home.

But this did not happen just by chance. It happened because the owners and staff of Golden Years have dedicated themselves to keeping the virus out.

Since March 12th we have been locked down. That is, except for an emergency or critical doctor appointment, no resident can go out, and no outsider can come in. When staff members come to work each day, they are checked for symptoms of the virus, they change into fresh medical scrubs, they put on clean shoes, and they put on masks.

As residents, we are not confined to our apartments. We are free to go anywhere on the campus, providing we observe the social-distancing rules and do not congregate in groups of more than 10.  Every resident has their temperature and oxygen level checked daily.

Our 4-course noon meal is no longer a buffet. It is now served to us at a table, mostly with only one person to a table and at least 6 feet apart. Our meal is served as it would be in any 4-star restaurant. (it would be a 5-star restaurant but the servers aren’t wearing tuxedos.) We have soup, salad, and desert in addition to the main dish.

During the day there are many activities – usually four or five things to do. There are exercise classes, current event lectures, craft activities, group games, Bible studies, various contests, group walking, outdoor gardening activities, and more.  There is also a movie every afternoon, a couple of morning coffees during the week, and a Friday afternoon “Happy Hour”. There are also many spontaneous small group get-togethers to just talk, play cards, or do things like knitting with friends.

In addition, there are teams of resident volunteers who spend time every day wiping down doorknobs, railings, elevator buttons, and other hard surfaces to keep them free of any possible virus.

Since most of us prepare our own breakfasts and suppers, we often need to do a little food shopping. The staff does that for us. Once a week we can give them a list of whatever we need. They do the shopping and then bring the food back to us.

I have lived here almost 10 years and have always felt the care was wonderful. But with the pandemic raging around us, the care from the staff has become phenomenal. And, most importantly, it is done graciously. Never do we have a sense that any of the staff think it is just their job. It is always done as if it is their mission to take care of us.

I think I can safely say that all of us here at Golden Years are grateful to live here. Since we as older people are far more susceptible to the coronavirus, living here gives us a wonderful feeling of comfort, safety, and security.

– Lauren A.

May 28, 2020
One of the things that brings us joy is helping to facilitate events that enable our residents and their loved ones to spend some time together. One such event is our annual family day that we have traditionally held every summer at our Walworth location. While we had hoped that this pandemic would end soon and life could quickly return to normal, we recognize that bringing everyone together would not be in the best interests of the health and safety of our residents, their families, or our staff. As a result, we are saddened to announce that we have made the decision to cancel our family day event for 2020. We do look forward to someday hosting an event where we can bring everyone together again after it is determined that such a gathering would be appropriate. Thank you all for your understanding.
May 24, 2020
The total number of coronavirus cases in Walworth County continues to rise every day, and this week we became aware of two more local senior living facilities dealing with new resident cases of COVID-19. It was also surreal on Friday to see the Washington Post use a photo of downtown Lake Geneva to highlight their article about areas with uncontrolled coronavirus spread.

We have heard some in the senior living industry indicate recently that they believe it’s a matter of “when”, not “if” we will have cases of COVID-19 in our buildings. While we haven’t yet resigned ourselves to that outcome, it is definitely a sobering prediction. So, we continue to prepare for the possibility that the virus might get into our buildings despite our best efforts.

In previous posts we have described some of our prevention procedures, and while those definitely continue, we have also renewed our focus on staff training. Many of our staff have completed or are in the process of completing their National COVID-Ready Caregiver Certification, and we have also been systematically reviewing and practicing with our staff how to properly handle and use personal protective equipment (PPE).

As we try to prepare, we also find reason for some optimism as we learn about skilled nursing facilities that are having some success in limiting the spread of the virus after it got into their building. Many of the initial nursing homes that experienced positive cases were devastated by the speed and the magnitude of the outbreak as the virus rapidly spread throughout nearly their entire building. As a result, even news of facilities having mild success in slowing the spread of this deadly virus is a welcomed contrast!

May 19, 2020 - Retirement Village Reopening Phase One
As we mentioned in our previous posting, we have been working on a plan for Phase One of reopening our Retirement Village. It is important to distinguish that this reopening is for our independent living Retirement Village apartments in Walworth onlyAll of our current restrictions will remain in place for our Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing areas. The direction given to our Retirement Village residents for this Phase One reopening is outlined below.

 

Effective Wednesday May 20th, Phase One of our Retirement Village re-opening will include:

Visitors:

  • One family visit per day
  • Visits to take place outside only
  • You and your family member must wear masks during your visit
  • Masks can be checked out from the office. Plan ahead, the office is closed on Sundays.

Beauty Salon:
Robin will be returning to Golden Years by appointment only. It will be important for both you and Robin to wear masks during your appointment. Masks can be checked out in the office.

As always, our greatest concern is for your health and safety, so for the time being, and until further notice, we will continue to:

  • take your temperatures and pulse/oxygen levels each day (except Sundays)
  • serve you at your socially distanced table in the Dining Room
  • disinfect your mail and packages
  • place, pick up and distribute your Sentry grocery orders
  • pick up your prescriptions at Walgreens
  • make deposits at your banks
  • help you arrange transportation to essential doctor appointments
  • provide activities and entertainment and outings (following the rules of social distancing)
  • offer help/instruction/guidance should you wish to video chat with your family

Each of these items will be revisited mid-June to determine if we are all clear to move to Phase 2.

We remain certain that it is only a result of God’s grace, your courage, diligence and flexibility, and the hard work done by the Cleaning Brigade each day that Golden Years Retirement Village has, thus far, been spared the effects of Covid-19……and we are grateful.

Thank you for trusting us to continue to care for you. We will get through this!

May 15, 2020
A couple of big things have happened in the few days since our last posting! The President spoke about instituting COVID-19 testing for all nursing home residents and staff, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Evers’ “Safer at Home” order – effective immediately. Both of these items are significant and impact the Golden Years in various ways, so while we apologize this will be a longer posting than normal, we’ll try to explain and respond to both topics as best we can with the information we have at the moment.

To begin, it’s important to note that each section of the Golden Years – independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing (Walworth and Lake Geneva) – is under different regulatory guidelines, and as a result, each area has been issued slightly different guidance during this pandemic. Much of the national conversation has centered on nursing homes, or the skilled nursing portion of our facilities, as that is the highest regulated area and is the area where our most vulnerable seniors typically are located.

Recently, the White House began highly suggesting preemptive testing for nursing homes, but indicated they would be leaving the details up to each state’s governor to decide how the testing would be handled. Governor Evers, through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, has now made nursing homes a priority for COVID-19 testing, but preemptive testing is currently voluntary, not required. (When we say “preemptive” we mean testing before any individuals in a facility become symptomatic)

We are going to try to continue to be on the leading edge of the response to this virus, but as we talk with our medical advisors, testing everyone preemptively to get a “snapshot” of the status in our buildings doesn’t seem to be the most prudent approach. The results of a one-time mass testing can actually be misleading as staff/residents could test negative and pick up the virus the next day, or they could currently be in a pre-clinical stage of the virus, meaning they are already infectious, but it’s too early for a diagnostic test to be able to detect the presence of the disease. If testing becomes more rapid and/or more readily available where testing would be done on a frequent and consistent basis, then preemptive mass testing may have more clinical value.

We will certainly abide by any updated regulations as they are released, but at this time we aren’t planning on preemptively testing everyone in our buildings. We, of course, will continue to monitor symptoms closely and then will quickly isolate and test anyone that shows signs/symptoms of the virus. We also would prepare to test everyone in our building(s) if that became the appropriate response.

With regards to the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling regarding Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” order, the impact on the Golden Years as a whole is somewhat minimal, though varied based on the different areas of the facility. In addition to Wisconsin regulations, the skilled nursing areas (and, to a lesser extent, the assisted living area) are under federal regulations as well. Those federal regulations were not impacted by the Wisconsin “safer at home” order and remain in full effect even with the Wisconsin order struck down. As a result, our policies regarding visitors, resident and staff symptom screenings, social distancing, and infection control monitoring remain completely unchanged in our assisted living and skilled nursing areas.

The area that may see some changes is our independent living Retirement Village in Walworth. However, unlike a standalone senior apartment building, there are additional complexities to consider during this transitional time due to the connection our independent living has to our assisted living and skilled nursing areas. As a result, we are currently working on a plan for rolling out any changes and will provide updates when they are available in the coming days.

We feel so blessed that we have not had any positive cases in our buildings yet, and we are remaining diligent to try to keep it that way. However, we also respect the threat that this elusive virus presents, and we are doing all we can to prepare in case it does get past our prevention efforts. Thank you all for your continued cooperation, prayers, and support.

May 11, 2020
We feel very fortunate that to this point we still have no known positive cases of COVID-19 in our buildings. As the national discussion around testing in facilities like ours seems to be ramping up, we feel it’s important to share that to this point we have not done mass COVID-19 testing of all of our residents and staff. We continue to follow the guidance of the CDC, Wisconsin DHS, and our local physicians, and as we continue our frequent screening of residents and staff, mass testing has not been clinically indicated.

However, while we have not instituted mass testing, a number of our residents and staff have been tested individually for COVID-19 over the past several weeks in accordance with current protocols for healthcare facilities. Each time, the testing has been done out of an abundance of caution due to minor or singular symptoms, or due to their proximity to possible cases (like some of our recent admissions from the hospital as discussed in an earlier post). In every case we have taken the proper precautions, and worked closely with the primary physician, and in every case the test has come back negative.

We intend to continue to be as cautious and proactive as we can, and we will continue to follow the most recent professional guidance both in regards to our infection prevention and our testing protocols.

May 6, 2020
Nationally, hospital healthcare workers are rightly being portrayed as heroes. We are so grateful for them and many of them locally are close friends or family. They deserve the praise they are receiving and we commend them for their service! They are on the front lines of this pandemic. However, we have seen that this pandemic has multiple front lines. It’s with that awareness that we’ve been doing everything we can to prepare ourselves for and protect ourselves from his virus. We have invested countless hours and thousands upon thousands of dollars attempting to get personal protective equipment (PPE) in an effort protect our residents and our staff, and, by extension, our staff’s families. We have been supported in this by many friends who have made fabric masks or donated PPE, but in light of global shortages our efforts in this respect are ongoing.

We’ve personally been blessed to be encouraged and supported by so many of our residents and their families, but we recognize that nationally healthcare workers in nursing homes or assisted livings are not getting the same treatment as our friends serving in the hospitals. While acknowledging our bias, we couldn’t be prouder of our Golden Years staff or more thankful for their incredible dedication during this time. As many around us appropriately follow the orders to stay at home during this pandemic, our staff has continued to bravely show up to work every single day – at personal risk to themselves and their families – to provide care in close contact with our vulnerable seniors in the face of this contagious, invisible, deadly virus.

So, while hospital workers throughout the country absolutely are heroes, there is definitely no doubt in our mind the efforts of our amazing staff have been nothing short of heroic as well.

May 2, 2020
With Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching we recognize that celebrations this year will be unlike any other year. The inability to have visits from loved ones continues to be the hardest part during this time for our residents, and we know that this holiday could be particularly tough as it is typically a day where our buildings are filled with guests. While visitors are not yet allowed in our facilities, we want to confirm that flowers and packages can still be delivered, and we definitely encourage sending cards, calling on the phone, or visiting through a closed window. These communication options are available every day, but they’re especially available on Mother’s Day!
April 28, 2020
As additional information continues to be released from across the country in areas hit hard by the coronavirus, we’ve been paying particularly close attention to reports from other nursing and senior living facilities to attempt to learn from the experiences they’ve had to go through. It has helped inform many of our decisions – some of which we have already shared with you – and one decision in particular that we haven’t talked about, but wanted to take a moment to share with you today.

One of the common trends that seems to be repeating is the apparent spread of the virus to numerous facilities in the same general geographic areas. There can be a variety of reasons for this, but one of the major contributors appears to be staff that work in multiple facilities. Perhaps like other industries, the senior health care market is filled with workers that consistently travel between senior living facilities. For some employees it’s the result of having a second job that takes them to multiple buildings, and for some, as contracted employees, their jobs require them to work in numerous locations. In normal times, these shared staff are essential in order to provide the necessary care to our residents, but in these current times, these shared staff suddenly become a major liability for increasing the risk of virus transmission.

Typically, we have many staff (our own, and contracted individuals) that work in both our Walworth and Lake Geneva buildings, and/or work in other facilities in the area. However, since mid-March we purposefully and drastically worked to limit this practice as much and as quickly as we could. Internally, we completely stopped sharing caregiving staff and put strict restrictions on all other transit between our two locations. It’s been difficult, but our partners that provide services like therapy and hospice have worked closely with us to prevent shared staffing between our two facilities – and any other locations as well. Partners like pharmacy and medical equipment suppliers have strategically worked with us to limit or completely eliminate any contact during deliveries. Our amazing Medical Director, Dr. Hobbs, has been one of the physician leaders during this crisis at the local hospital, Aurora Lakeland Medical Center. As a result, he has not been coming to either of our buildings, but has remained very accessible to us remotely and has been invaluable in providing his support and advice. Finally, while we continually attempt to limit their contact, there are support services that still need to have physical access to our buildings and our residents like diagnostic laboratory, mobile radiology, and emergency medical personnel. If and when their services are required, they have each been very cooperative with our screening and infection control procedures that we have put in place in an attempt to minimize the risk to our staff and residents by limiting their exposure.

Even though these measures are not new and have been in place for about 6 weeks now, we feel they are a really important component of our response to this pandemic and therefore wanted to be sure to share these details. If you have specific questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us directly. The contact information for both buildings and our online contact form can be found by clicking on the “Contact Us” link at the top of this page or by clicking here.

April 24, 2020
Walworth County’s coronavirus infection numbers continue to rise, and yesterday the county officially reported its 100th confirmed positive case of COVID-19. There are at least 2 local nursing facilities dealing with outbreaks in their buildings, and already a week ago Walworth County’s public health department was considering the virus “widespread” throughout the county.

While we have stopped allowing visitors and have strict restrictions on anyone coming into our buildings, we are currently continuing to admit new residents into our facilities at this time. However, even in our admission process we are doing all we can to minimize the risk of introducing the virus into our buildings.

We are currently not admitting known COVID-positive patients into our facilities. We always closely review any referrals to make sure we believe that we have the ability and resources available to serve them well, but during this time we have been even more diligent in our review process. Our local hospitals have been very good to work with in this regard as they recognize the increased risk this virus clearly presents in our environment. As a result, most of the individuals we receive referrals for have already been tested for the COVID-19 virus, and the hospitals have typically been very accommodating with those that had not yet been tested. We have implemented social distancing protocols for all of our residents, but have put in place additional measures to monitor and, for a time, quarantine our newest residents as an extra layer of protection.

More than anything, we hope these intentional steps are effective at keeping the virus out of our buildings! In addition though, we hope these provisions allow us to continue to serve seniors in need in our communities during this time while still providing a high level of reassurance for our current residents and our staff.

April 21, 2020

We have received some feedback expressing concerns about this photo that we recently shared on our social media pages, and the possible infection control risk created by our 3 staff pictured sitting on the floor. So, we wanted to share some additional context to hopefully alleviate some of those concerns and express that we are taking our response to this pandemic very seriously.

The photo was taken about 2 weeks ago, shortly after we implemented a new scrubs and masks procedure in our buildings. It was taken right after “shift change” so that it could capture many of our day shift and pm shift staff, and the 3 ladies pictured sitting on the floor had already completed their shift and took part in the photo just before leaving for the day.

In answer to a specific question that was asked: the picture was not intended to be controversial, and it does feature our actual staff, not paid actors – although our gals did love hearing that someone thought they were models! We simply wanted to show off a few of our many amazing staff that have been working so hard during this time.

Hopefully anyone who visits one of our buildings can tell that we always put a lot of effort into the cleanliness of our facilities, and since early March we have intentionally increased those efforts with an extra focus on sanitation. However, even with that in place you won’t typically find any of us laying down on the floor…and if you do, it probably means we dropped something or we tripped!

The scrubs and masks procedure we mentioned was put into place at the start of April and, much like the process at a hospital, our staff change out of their personal clothes and put on a pair of Golden Years provided scrubs and a fabric face mask when they enter the building. As staff leave the building, they change back into their personal clothes, leaving their used scrubs and mask for the Golden Years to launder. Additionally, our staff either change their shoes upon arriving to work or spray them with disinfectant to avoid inadvertently tracking something into the building.

The health and safety of our residents and our staff continues to be our top priority – especially during this time. While we sadly realize we cannot 100% guarantee that we’ll be able to keep the virus out of our buildings, we are definitely trying to prevent it through actions like extra sanitations, intentional hand hygiene, social distancing, temperature taking, symptom screening, staff training, and our scrubs and masks procedures.

Many of these actions have already been outlined in previous postings on this site, but we wanted to recap them and directly address the photo in light of the concerns expressed.

April 16, 2020
As many of you may have seen, the official number of COVID-19 cases in Walworth County rose significantly today, and there was a news article released indicating that it was due in large part to an outbreak in at least one local facility. So far, Walworth County has chosen not to release any details regarding the name of the facility or its location.

We know there are many concerned individuals wondering if this outbreak might be in one of our buildings, and it is with great humility and gratefulness that we can confirm that at this time there are still no known cases of coronavirus in either of our locations.

We are acutely aware that our status today is no guarantee for our future. As a result, we can assure you that we are remaining vigilant and intentionally doing our best to keep this virus out of our buildings, while simultaneously attempting to do what we can to prepare in case it does. While we have heard rumors of local outbreaks through the healthcare grapevine, we do not have any firsthand information and therefore we have no additional details to share. Our hearts definitely go out to the impacted residents, their families, and the staff that are caring for them.

In additional news, today Governor Evers officially extended his “Safer at Home” order until May 26th. Naturally this means we are planning for all of our visitor restrictions and infection control precautions to continue for at least another 6 weeks.

We will do our best to continue to keep everyone informed, and we cannot thank you enough for your continued support!

April 14, 2020
Yesterday afternoon new guidance was issued by the Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long-Term Care that banned all window visits at any nursing home or assisted living community throughout the state. This guidance was issued in an attempt to respond to numerous accounts that they had received of individuals visiting long-term care residents outside of their windows, yet having contact such as kissing through a screen, hugging through an open window, and not maintaining social distancing. Today, the Board on Aging and Long-Term Care rescinded their complete ban on window visits, and in their revised guidance specifically described activities such as waving to a resident through a closed window as “essential.”

In an effort to follow the spirit of their guidance while preventing the contact they described, “window visits” outside of Golden Years’ rooms will now need to be made through a closed window. We still encourage family and loved ones to visit outside of the window, and we are happy to help facilitate phone conversations during the closed window visit – or anytime – in addition to assisting with video chats through Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding!

April 10, 2020
As our quarantine completes its 4th week (or has it been 4 months?!) we all continue to adjust to this new “normal.”

We find our residents currently expressing a pretty broad range of perspectives. Some are quite concerned about their personal vulnerability – due in large part to their underlying health conditions. Others have expressed that they think the Golden Years is the safest place on the entire planet and therefore they have no concerns whatsoever. However, most of our residents – and the truth – can probably be found somewhere in between those two extremes with an acute awareness of the invisible danger out there, but a comfort in the precautions we are all continually taking.

We continue to track and follow guidance from the CDC, CMS, and Wisconsin DHS, and our decision to go a step further and implement wearing scrubs and facemasks has been strongly affirmed by our medical director and professional advisors. While we recognize that many nationally and now some locally have not been as fortunate, we are beyond grateful that we have not yet had any cases in either of our buildings, and we continue to work hard and pray hard to keep it that way!

April 6, 2020
To be perfectly honest, as we hear of increasing cases locally of COVID-19 we are all a little on edge and hyper-focused on doing all we can to protect our residents and each other during this time. So it’s such a welcomed contrast to look out the window and see the sun, and hear the birds, and see the greening signs of Spring. We know that this challenge is really just beginning, but we head into the unknown of this week – and the coming weeks – so grateful for our amazing, brave, and faithful staff. And we know, as the old Persian adage goes, this too shall pass.

In the words of Gio Marra, our maintenance guy Tony’s brother, during the recent video concert he shared with our residents:
Have a little faith
Have a lot of hope
Always wash your hands
And use a lot of soap!

April 2, 2020
As readers of our past updates are well aware, we have already implemented many things to try to keep the COVID-19 virus out of our buildings, and we are constantly evaluating additional ways to protect our residents and our staff. With that in mind, we wanted to inform you of some additional precautions that we are putting in place.

To be clear, these changes are preventative. There are currently no known cases of coronavirus in either of our buildings and our focus and full commitment is to keep it that way!

Beginning this week, all of our staff will begin wearing scrubs and fabric face masks in addition to the hand hygiene, temperature taking, and symptom screening we have previously had in place. Much like the process at a hospital, upon arriving at work our staff will change out of their personal clothes and put on a pair of Golden Years provided scrubs and a fabric face mask. As staff leave the building, they will change back into their personal clothes, leaving their used scrubs and mask for the Golden Years to launder.

By providing scrubs that stay at the Golden Years, our hope is that our staff won’t accidentally bring anything into the building on their clothing, and will have additional confidence that they won’t inadvertently take anything home to their families on their clothing either. In addition, with everyone beginning to wear masks now – before there is an outbreak – we are hoping to help prevent the broad unintentional spread of the virus by asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals.

This change is not something that has been required of us by any governmental or regulatory entity. We decided to take this step and make this financial investment in an effort to do all we can to protect our residents, our staff, and our staff’s families during this time. This new process is costly, and it definitely requires additional time and effort from each of our staff. It also doesn’t come with any guarantees that it will be successful, but even the fact that it might help prevent or contain this virus makes it completely worth it to all of us.

March 28, 2020
With help from some wonderful (and patient) test subjects over the past week, we were able to enhance our technological ability to facilitate FaceTime or Skype conversations with residents in both of our buildings. We have reached out to family members that have shared their email addresses with more specific details on how to best coordinate video chats with us. If you’re interested in setting up a video chat and did not receive an email from us, please contact us directly. The contact information for both buildings and our online contact form can be found by clicking on the “Contact Us” link at the top of this page or by clicking here.

We also want to certainly encourage everyone to keep reaching out to their loved ones with phone calls or by sending cards and letters. Our residents all seem to be doing well, but we have observed many times already that a message from a loved one definitely helps to lift their spirits and is a cherished bright spot during this time.

As an additional way of staying connected – while we are admittedly very behind at the moment – we will attempt to keep posting photos from both of our locations on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Please feel free to follow us on any of those sites for little glimpses of life at the Golden Years.
March 24, 2020 - Fabric Mask Guidance
As the world struggles with global shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), we have been contacted this week by several generous and caring people offering to help sew face masks for us. Thank you!

Your time and talent can greatly impact our ability to care for our seniors and help ensure our safety as we do. Fabric masks offer the benefit of being able to be washed and re-used. Still a large supply is needed, as each healthcare worker may need to change their mask several times during their shifts, as the mask becomes soiled or damp – for maximum protection.

We aren’t worried about looking stylish – but we are concerned about functionality. Non-matching fabrics, thread, binding strips are just fine – but a well sewn mask with no frayed edges or missed seams or “holes” is important.

In an effort to make sure the masks are as safe and effective as possible, we ask that you consider the following information and guidelines that we’ve adopted from a large Midwest hospital group: 

  • It is most helpful to use a standard pattern to ensure proper fit and function. As a result, please use the following patterns:
  • Recommended fabric for the outer portion of the mask includes heaver, non-stretch fabric such as denim, duck cloth, canvas, twill, or other tight woven fabric.
  • Recommended fabric for the inner lining and filter pocket can be other cotton, cotton-blend non-stretch fabric. It can be thinner and softer, but again recommended minimal or non-stretch. Fabric MUST be laundered in HOT water prior to sewing to prevent future shrinkage.
  • Polyester or other less breathable fabric will not work as well, due to moisture produced when breathing.
  • If using denim or other fabric that is being “recycled”, please be sure it is clean and in good shape. Worn or dirty fabric will not be protective.
  • Elastic should be in good shape, with plenty of stretch and of an appropriate size to fit over the ears. 1/16 inch round cord or 1/8 inch braided work best.
  • If elastic is not available, fabric ties can be sewn on the mask. There will need to be 4 ties (one tie on each of the 4 corners). Ties should be approx. ¼ inch in width, sewn in such a way that there are no frayed edges, and long enough to be tied into a bow on the top of the head (for the top corner and behind the head for the bottom corner).

Completed Masks
Enclose completed masks in a closed plastic bag or closed plastic box. Deliver your masks to either of our locations Monday-Friday between 9am and 5pm:

  1. Walworth, 270 Ridge, Road, Walworth, WI
  2. Lake Geneva, 611 Harmony Drive, Lake Geneva, WI

If you have questions, or need more information, please email us at info@goldenyearswi.com.

March 21, 2020
As our buildings’ closure to visitors stretches into its second week, all of our residents and staff certainly miss the many family members, friends, and volunteers that would frequently travel our halls. We recognize that it’s hard to know how to best stay connected during this time so wanted to pass along a resource that was shared with us by our friends at Aurora Hospice. We also plan to share more information about the attached Tip #2 in the coming days.

Click to open link: A Guide to Supporting Your Loved One During the Coronavirus Quarantine

March 19, 2020
As many of you may have already heard, there are now two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Walworth County reported by the Walworth County Public Health Department. According to the official information they shared, the first case was an individual who had traveled domestically recently and had remained in voluntary self-isolation since returning from travel. The second case is a man in his 60s who is currently receiving treatment. They have not released if the second case was travel related or not. No other information has been shared about either patient’s identity, location or condition. As far as we know, neither individual has any connection to the Golden Years, but it’s still sobering to know that this virus has officially arrived in our county.

We’ve continued to revise our systems over the past few days in an effort to best protect our residents and remain in compliance with the directives issued by our local and national health authorities. One recent change was a modification to our dining service in our independent Retirement Village. We wanted to better enforce infection control practices and better incorporate social distancing, but we were concerned about the social impact of this move on our seniors – most of whom greatly enjoy their daily buffet dinner together. However, after their meal today several residents were overheard commenting that they could really get used to this new plated-service private dining! Leave it to our great dietary staff to even make a quarantine enjoyable!

March 17, 2020
After the many precautions we implemented last week, followed by the flurry of suggestions, guidelines, and requirements issued by our nation’s health authorities, both our residents and our staff are attempting to get used to life in this new “normal”.

We continue to focus on prevention through extra sanitation, screening, and infection control practices, particularly hand hygiene, and this will continue for the foreseeable future.

We have been asked frequently how long we think this might last. Unfortunately, we really don’t know. We believe a significant component will be how compliant people are with these nationwide guidelines, and how effective all of these restrictions are at slowing the pace of this virus’ spread across the country. Much of the recent guidance we have received has indicated that the directives will be reviewed again after 30 days so we certainly expect – and are preparing for – the length of this situation to be measured in weeks or months, not days.

We’ll continue to provide updates on this page, but if you have specific questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us directly. The contact information for both buildings and our online contact form can be found by clicking on the “Contact Us” link at the top of this page or by clicking here.

March 15, 2020
We are so grateful for the overwhelmingly positive feedback and encouragement that we’ve received since making the difficult decision to close our buildings to visitors on Friday. Thank you to the many of you who have reached out.

As hard as the decision was for us to make, we feel affirmed in our choice as Friday evening the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued updated guidance that, among other things, directed all nursing homes nationwide to close to visitors. While that was the most notable part of their updated guidance, as was previously mentioned, there were other components as well. Beginning Friday evening and throughout the day on Saturday, our staff in both of our locations worked to implement those additional directives.

We have now put into place more robust health screening for anyone entering our buildings that includes reviewing and signing off on a series of health and infection related questions, taking and logging their temperature, and in the circumstances outlined in CMS’ directive, preventatively wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as facemasks.

Also, at CMS’ direction, we have suspended communal dining and group activities. Meals are now being served on trays in resident rooms, and all activities are being careful to integrate “social distancing”, which the CDC defines as remaining out of group settings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others.

It has been quite the challenge to keep up with and appropriately implement all of the rapidly changing directives and guidance, but it’s been possible thanks to all of your support, the incredible cooperation of our residents, and the positive attitudes and willing efforts of our simply amazing staff.

March 13, 2020 - Retirement Village
Golden Years Independent Living Update

The Golden Years’ primary focus and concern is the safety and well-being of our precious residents and our valued staff. With this in mind, as of today, March 13, 2020, the leadership of Golden Years has issued a temporary preventative lockdown.

This means:

  • all non-emergency guests including family members and volunteers are asked to postpone their visits
  • bus travel for outings, shopping, and church have been cancelled
  • all non-essential appointments such wellness checks, social gatherings outside of the RV, community volunteer activities and shopping excursions should be rescheduled

In the meantime:

  • Mail service, package delivery and prescription deliveries from McCullough’s and Aurora will continue as usual
  • Trish, Chris and Debbie are finalizing systems to ensure you will continue to receive the groceries and essentials you need as well as providing ways to communicate with your family if needed
  • Linda Austin has offered to host a modified standard precautions/infection control class for all the residents of the Retirement Village

Please know we do not make these decisions lightly and that our concern, as always, is the safety, health and independence of our residents.

We thank you in advance for your patience, understanding, and cooperation.

March 13, 2020
After much thought, prayer, and discussion, we have made the unprecedented decision to close our buildings to visitors. This is a sobering decision for us, and it was not made lightly, but is consistent with our mission. For over 50 years our singular focus has been to provide the best possible care to our seniors. In light of this current outbreak and the devastating impact this virus has proven to have on the elderly, we have decided this is the best way to protect and truly serve our seniors best.

We are certainly aware of and are concerned about the social impact this decision will have emotionally on our residents, and are working toward solutions to address this concern. We would definitely encourage friends and family to remain engaged with their loved ones during this time through phone calls, emails, and/or video chats.

We will continue to provide updates as we are able and as we have additional information to share. Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your understanding as we navigate through these unchartered times

March 12, 2020
We continue to closely monitor the health and symptoms of our residents and staff and are working through the process of providing updated training to all of our staff on the uniquenesses of COVID-19 and the best ways to prevent infection and respond if treatment becomes necessary. We are continuing to limit guests to essential visits only, and all visitors must sign in at the main entrance so we are able to monitor and track if necessary. We are continuing with ramped up cleaning and sterilization, particularly in shared areas and on common touch points.

As this virus continues to spread throughout the nation, we remain in contact with Walworth County’s public health department and continue to follow the guidance offered by the CDC and Wisconsin DHS. We anticipate that we may need to implement further restrictions in the near future. We will keep updating this page as we have more information to offer.

March 11, 2020
At the time of this writing, there remains no known cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) at the Golden Years, or in Walworth County. However, out of an abundance of caution, we are currently requesting that guests consider visiting another time. If a visit is necessary, all visitors must sign in, contingent on passing a self-screening process. Anyone that has signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, has had contact with a known case of COVID-19, or has been in an area identified with the COVID-19 virus is not allowed in the facility.

In addition, we ask that any necessary visitors use proper hand hygiene by washing their hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, always cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use their elbow if a tissue is not available, limit the surfaces they touch, and limit movement within the facility to the resident’s room. We also ask that any visitor notify the Golden Years of any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or acute illness within 14 days after visiting.

We appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation as we navigate through this time.

March 6, 2020
At the time of this writing, there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) at the Golden Years, or in Walworth County.

As this virus has expanded and spread throughout the world, we are taking the coronavirus threat very seriously and have created this space on our website to provide updates to anyone concerned or interested in our status. We are increasing our infection control cleaning diligence and our coordination with our local public health authorities. We have been reviewing our emergency plans and responses, and have been internally meeting over the past couple of weeks preparing our response for this situation should it continue to proliferate.

We intend to provide updates as we are able, and as we have additional information to share.