Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

11/13/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be of great concern to our community, our state, and our nation. The disruption that this pandemic has had on all our lives is obvious.

Although we are encouraged by the news that vaccination trials are producing optimistic results, it may be several months before COVID vaccinations will have a significant reduction of the risk level. The CDC has indicated that limited COVID-19 vaccine doses may be available this year, but supply will increase substantially in 2021. In the meantime, we will continue our efforts to slow the spread of this virus.

Among our efforts, we have continued the required testing of the staff who work in the Health Services or Assisted Living area of our campus. We have had individuals providing ancillary and contract services test positive over the last month, but at this time, we are pleased to report that we do not have any active cases of COVID-19 among any residents or staff in Health Services or Assisted Living licensed areas.

The Oklahoma County COVID-19 positivity rate is currently at 13.3%, which is at the highest positivity classification, also known as the “red zone.” Until the Oklahoma County positive rate is below 10.0%, Epworth Health Services and Assisted Living remain in the “red” classification. As a result, we will continue with required testing protocols for staff in Health Services and Assisted Living and limit visitation to outdoor appointments using safety protocols. If the Oklahoma County positivity rate remains above 10.0%, the requirement for us will be testing our Health Services and Assisted Living staff twice per week.

In the non-licensed areas of Epworth, including independent living, we have additional information to report. Two positive COVID tests have occurred for administrative staff, for whom contact tracing was performed. Today, we were informed of a positive COVID test for one of our independent living residents. The exposure happened with family, off campus. Thankfully, there does not appear to be any exposure to other residents from this positive case.

Our prayers go out to all who have been impacted by this dreaded virus. The resiliency of our residents and staff is admirable and inspirational. Together, and with God’s help, we will persevere through this pandemic to brighter days ahead.


10/15/2020

The continuing increase in COVID cases in Oklahoma is escalating the risk of COVID entering Epworth Villa. Despite our efforts, we have additional positive COVID cases to report.

We have identified one additional positive COVID test among Assisted Living residents. This has extended the temporary pause of any visitation in assisted living until we can see no active cases of COVID for 14 days.

An employee of Select Rehab who had served residents in Households 1 and 2 has tested positive for COVID. All the residents in Households 1 and 2 have tested negative.

Oklahoma has removed the phases of reopening in deference to CMS visitation guidance directives. Due to the county positivity rate and COVID activity in Epworth health services and assisted living, we will continue only virtual and compassionate care visitation in those areas until we are 14 days with no COVID positive and a county positivity rate below 10%.

An employee whose office is in the accounting and executive area has tested positive. All other staff in that area who may have been exposed have tested negative.

An independent living resident has tested positive. If we see additional positive COVID tests in independent living, we will consider renewing more restrictive preventive measures in independent living.

The health and safety of our residents and staff is our highest priority. Without our health, we struggle to thrive. We are thankful for the tireless efforts of our staff to perform numerous COVID tests, clean areas incessantly, and constantly wear masks while doing strenuous work and caring for the needs of those we serve. We celebrate you.

Ron Kelly
President & CEO


10/03/2020

In our last update on September 24, we shared that five of the over 200 staff members at Epworth tested positive for COVID-19. We have some additional developments to share.

Four of these staff had worked in assisted living and are on leave while they quarantine. Initial tests of residents who had potentially been exposed were all negative, however, three assisted living residents have recently tested positive. Although the residents have experienced some minor symptoms, thankfully, they all seem to be recovering well while in isolation. All the assisted living staff were tested, and no additional positive results occurred. We will continue to closely monitor.

We also had a hospice nurse test positive who served a resident in Household 4. All the residents and staff in Household 4 were tested and all results came back negative.

Our COVID precautions remain in place. Along with the continuation of COVID-19 safety protocols, Epworth is following all the testing requirements for residents and staff. No visitors will be allowed in Health Services or Assisted Living until we have 14 days without any active COVID cases within our community. For the time being, we have ceased all outdoor visitation for health services and assisted living until further notice. In addition, our Independent Living residents may only receive visitors within their homes and apartments but not in common areas.

The rising number of active COVID cases in Oklahoma is a significant concern. Our team has responded well to this most recent challenge. Thank you for joining us on this journey to overcome this pandemic.

Ron Kelly
President & CEO


09/24/2020

In recent days, five of the over 200 staff members at Epworth tested positive for COVID-19. Since our last update on August 27th, Epworth had not had any cases of COVID among our residents and staff until now.

Four of these staff are in assisted living. The residents who were potentially exposed in Assisted Living have been tested and are all negative.

In addition, one health services administrative employee tested positive. Residents and staff who had contact with this staff person have all been tested and results are negative.

Along with the continuation of COVID-19 safety protocols, Epworth is following all the testing requirements for residents and staff.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has established that Oklahoma nursing facilities will use the CMS guidelines for lifting COVID visitation restrictions in health services and assisted living. The two primary prerequisites provided by CMS for accommodating indoor visitation are as follows:

  • There has been no new onset of COVID-19 cases in the facility in the last 14 days
  • The Oklahoma County COVID-19 positivity rate is below 10% (current rate is 7.5%)

Considering this requirement, we hope to be able to accept visitors in 14 days.

Thank you for your continued prayers and patience as we endeavor to thrive together during this challenging time.

Ron Kelly
President & CEO


08/27/2020

We are pleased to report that since the July 24th COVID-19 update, all previous positive COVID residents and staff have recovered and have returned to home and work, respectively. Currently, we do not have any active COVID cases at Epworth.

Despite these encouraging results within the Epworth community, we remain in “Phase 1” of the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s phasing in our Health Services and Assisted Living areas. This phase implements the highest level of protection for our residents and staff, which sustains the restriction on visitation. We will remain in this phase until Oklahoma County reaches the “low risk” category for the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s (OSDH) COVID-19 Alert System and at least 14 days have passed since our last positive COVID test within the Epworth community.

The figure below illustrates that even though the case count per 100,000 population in Oklahoma County of 16.21 reflects a recent downward trend since the beginning of July, it remains above the 14.39 threshold that is necessary to improve to a “Yellow” or “low risk” level on the OSDH COVID-19 Alert System.

Thankfully, more than 14 days have passed since our last positive COVID test within our community. As a result, if Oklahoma County dips below the 14.39 threshold, assuming no additional COVID occurs within Epworth, we will be cleared to move to Phase Two. Among other liberties, Phase Two allows for guided visitation in our Health Services and Assisted Living areas.

For our independent living, we have continued to ease back into resident life at Epworth, including the thoughtful reopening of our independent living dining venues with social distancing and other protocols for resident and staff safety.

In addition, we continue with screening all entrants to the community and with a requirement for mask-wearing while in public settings indoors, which is also mandated by the City of Oklahoma City at this time.
We are grateful for the efforts of our staff, residents, and the entire Epworth family in battling this virus. All things considered; we are thriving despite the COVID challenges we all face. We thank God for His abundant provision of grace.

Ron Kelly
President & CEO


07/24/2020

The battle against COVID-19 in our nation, state, and city continues to be challenging. We are closely watching the rising case count, hospitalizations, and now, sadly, the recent increase in deaths caused by COVID in Oklahoma. Our efforts have helped us to avoid outbreaks at Epworth, but we remain steadfast in respecting this dangerous foe and protecting our residents and staff.

Since the July 15th update, two staff and one resident, all in Household 1, have tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, they are all recovering without any symptoms. The resident was relocated to our COVID unit in Household 2 and is doing well. Testing was completed on all residents and staff in Household 1 with no additional positive cases.

In addition, a dining services employee has recently tested positive for COVID. That employee is isolated at home. We have tested all the other dining services staff and are awaiting results.

We remain in “Phase 1” of the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s phasing in our Health Services and Assisted Living areas. This phase implements the highest level of protection for our residents and staff, which sustains the restriction on visitation. We will remain in this phase until our county reaches the “low risk” category for COVID and at least 14 days have passed since our last positive COVID test within our community.

We are continuously encouraged and inspired by the tireless work of our amazing staff and the perseverance of our residents. God has blessed us with an incredible Epworth family.

Ron Kelly
President & CEO


07/15/2020

As has been widely reported, COVID-19 cases have dramatically increased in Oklahoma in recent weeks. Although this has brought a few challenges, overall, the news is good.

In early June, we relocated our one remaining resident from our COVID unit back to her home. Thankfully, we have not had any resident test positive for COVID-19 since then.

In recent weeks, we have had four staff people test positive for COVID-19, none of whom work in health services or assisted living. Three of those four have met all criteria for recovery and have returned to work. The remaining employee is due to return to work on Monday.

We would prefer to have zero cases among our staff, but we are encouraged that when we have had cases, they have been contained.

Because of the recent positive tests among our staff, we remain in “Phase 1” of the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s phasing in our Health Services and Assisted Living areas. This phase implements the highest level of protection for our residents and staff.

Your continued prayers for God’s protection and provision are appreciated.

Ron Kelly
President & CEO


06/08/2020

In our ongoing effort to provide regular updates to the Epworth family regarding COVID-19 and its impact on our community, we have some encouraging news to share.

Last week, the one remaining resident in the COVID unit was released by the Health Department, which means that all four residents who stayed in the COVID unit have successfully returned to Household 4. In addition, no residents or staff have tested positive for COVID-19 since our last update. As a result, no residents are in isolation and no staff are required to stay off-campus due to COVID-19.

Considering the formidable challenge that we have all faced with COVID-19, we are grateful beyond words to share this news.

We continue following the guidance of federal, state, and local authorities regarding COVID protocols. We are grateful that our staff, residents, and families, have been cooperative and committed to protecting the residents of Epworth as we help them thrive.

We ask that you keep praying for God’s protection and provision.

Ron Kelly
President & CEO


05/21/2020

Since the last update on May 15th, we have received additional testing results on which we provide the following update.

Out of the over 200 independent living residents tested last week, two residents in independent living, who are not showing any symptoms, tested positive for COVID-19. Those two residents were retested by our medical director, Dr. Ashley Ford, via the Mercy Clinic, and the results were negative. They will continue to be monitored by Dr. Ford. Although we consider these negative tests to be encouraging news, we do not know the reason for the discrepancy.

Following our proactive strategy of testing over 500 individuals at Epworth, including staff, residents, and some contract staff, other than the two independent living residents described above, we have not had any additional positive COVID-19 tests since the last update on May 15th. Based on the recommendation of our medical director, Dr. Ford, and the guidance provided to us by the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma County-OKC Health Department, we will now transition to symptom-based testing, unless broader testing is recommended or required by one of these sources due to a regulatory change or additional cases of COVID-19 within Epworth.

In addition, we have one resident in Health Services who remains quarantined in our COVID unit. Three residents who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 and were being cared for in our COVID unit have been released to return to Household 4. These residents were back to Household 4 through guidance provided by the Oklahoma County-OKC Health Department, which indicated they were no longer a risk for transmitting the virus to others.

Thank you to our staff, residents, and families who have bravely fought this COVID-19 battle. Together, and with God’s help, we will continue to persevere.

Ron Kelly
President & CEO


05/15/2020

COVID-19 has proven to be a dangerous adversary, requiring vigilant and careful planning and action. Since our last COVID-19 update on May 8th, we would like to update you on our findings and our continuing efforts to battle this virus.

Epworth has engaged a private lab to proactively test all our residents and staff. The status of the results and our response is as follows:

  1. One additional resident who had previously tested negative for COVID-19 has now tested positive for COVID-19 while residing in Household 4. This resident has been relocated to our COVID-19 unit in Household 2, receiving care in isolation with three other residents from Household 4 who previously tested positive for COVID-19.
  2. A new employee who worked a total of two days in Household 1 has tested positive for COVID-19. She was in Household 1 on May 7th and May 8th and has not returned to work.
  3. Prompted by the positive tests described above, an additional round of testing for all residents in Households 1 and 4 was requested by our Medical Director, Dr. Ashley Ford, revealing no additional positive tests.
  4. Epworth tested all the residents and staff of Assisted Living and received no positive results for COVID-19.
  5. Epworth offered testing for all independent living residents this week. Testing completed on Monday, May 11th, and Tuesday, May 12th, including staff tested on those dates, revealed no positive results for COVID-19. We should receive results for testing on Wednesday, May 13th, and Thursday, May 14th, in the coming days.
  6. As reported originally on May 2nd, a staff person in Household 4 tested positive for COVID-19, and she remains at home, without symptoms.
  7. As reported originally on May 2nd, Household 3 residents and staff were quarantined for precautionary reasons due to a potential exposure to COVID-19 that occurred on April 15th. That quarantine has been lifted and the staff members are now back to serving our residents.
  8. As reported originally on May 8th, two staff members who had worked in Household 1 and Household 4 tested positive for COVID-19. They have not worked at Epworth since the positive test result for COVID-19.

To summarize our COVID-19 status as described above, Epworth has had a total of five residents in Health Services test positive for COVID-19, including one who has died and four currently receiving care in the COVID-19 unit at Epworth. In addition, a total of four employees in Health Services have tested positive and have not returned to work. Despite our desire to see no COVID-19 at Epworth, we are pleased that we have been able to limit and contain the virus.

The State of Oklahoma has arranged for the National Guard to provide cleaning services for nursing facilities across the state. Epworth has been informed that we should expect the National Guard to provide this service on Saturday, May 16th, starting at 9:00 a.m. They will focus their efforts on the four households in Health Services. This augments the outstanding efforts of Epworth’s Housekeeping and Environmental Services team, who have done spectacular work in our infection control efforts.

The State of Oklahoma had originally indicated they would be providing testing at Epworth, but it has not happened. Thankfully, we have not waited for the State and our proactive testing has assisted our efforts in containing the virus.

We continue to follow CMS and Oklahoma State Department of Health directives, including the isolation in our special unit of all residents who have tested positive, using full PPE for direct care. Any staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 as confirmed by our medical director are not allowed to report to work.

Epworth continues to be blessed by God’s protection and the remarkable work of our team in keeping COVID-19 from spreading. Thank you for your prayers and support as we continue this battle together. The courage of those impacted by this dreadful virus stirs us to fight even harder.

Ron Kelly
President & CEO