The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Epworth family in a significant and heartbreaking way. Our beloved Chaplain, Rev. Marsha Purtell, passed away on November 16th, after over a year of dedicated service at Epworth. Our hearts go out to her family and our prayers are lifted on their behalf.
In the face of this tragic loss of a loved one, friend, and colleague, we persist in our efforts to slow the spread of this virulent disease.
The magnitude of the battle is evident in the growing COVID-19 positivity rate of 17.7 % in Oklahoma County, which currently is in the highest positivity classification, or the “red zone”.
In keeping with regulatory requirements at “red zone” level of positivity, Epworth has continued its rigorous testing protocols. As a result, in recent rounds of testing we have identified the following:
- Six staff members in assisted living with positive COVID-19 tests. These staff are recovering away from Epworth Villa.
- Five residents in assisted living with positive COVID-19 tests
- No additional positive tests or active cases of COVID in Health Services
In assisted living and health services, we continue with restrictions of in-person visitation and the practice of COVID protocols as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). We appreciate the determination of our residents and staff to follow these protocols.
In independent living,
- Two residents recovering from COVID-19, one remains in isolation.
- Several residents with past exposure to COVID-19 are completing quarantines this week.
- One employee has tested positive.
There is a great deal of sadness that this pandemic has brought to families across the globe. Touched by the loss of a beloved staff member in addition to the beloved resident from early in the pandemic, at Epworth we will continue for as long as it takes to overcome this disease. Thank you for joining us in that effort.
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.
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.
President & CEO
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.
President & CEO
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.
President & CEO
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.
President & CEO
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.
President & CEO
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.
President & CEO
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.
President & CEO
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.
President & CEO