FAQs

Here you can find answers to frequently asked questions from residents, family members, staff, and vendors.

COVID-19 UPDATES

Have you had an outbreak? How many cases have you had?

Despite our aggressive actions to mitigate and control the spread of the virus, including proactive and where possible, broad testing, we have not been able to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our retirement communities completely. We have been fortunate so far that there have not been any large outbreaks. The most positive cases we had at once in one community was five residents and three staff members (at The Gardens at Town Square in late March/early April 2020). We are committed to full transparency and will continue to maintain a detailed status of COVID-positive cases associated with our retirement communities here.

How many cases do you have currently?

The COVID-19 situation is changing constantly. We are committed to full transparency and will continue to maintain this detailed status of COVID-positive cases associated with our retirement communities. When we learn of a new case, we rapidly follow protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus. Please refer to this page for current information regarding any cases among our communities.

What agencies are you working with?

We work closely with King County Public Health and Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

Can you tell us what floor the residents who tested positive were on? What information can you give out?

Unfortunately, we cannot release private and identifying information per HIPPA restrictions. We release all information we can give out without violating privacy.

How many residents and staff are vaccinated?

We are pleased to share that our residents and staff at Era Living retirement communities were among the first priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, and vaccine clinics were held in each of our communities starting early in 2021. As of February 12, 89% of all residents and staff have received at least their first dose, including 98% of all residents and at least* 75% of staff.

 

Will your communities be offering residents and staff booster shots?

Yes, we expect to offer boosters after they become available to senior living communities through our pharmacy partner, Walgreen’s. At this time, we expect to offer the booster to residents only.

SAFETY PRACTICES

What are your protocols when you learn that someone in the building has tested positive?

If a resident currently residing in one of communities is positive, we enact strict isolation procedures for that resident. Additionally, we:

  • Rapidly identify potential exposure and take appropriate action.
  • Ask all higher risk staff members to stay home.
  • Proactively screen each resident to at least once a day.
  • Ask if they have any symptoms of illness and take appropriate action.
  • Conservatively treat any resident with any following symptoms as COVID-19 positive until they are tested:
    • Fever/sweating
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Runny nose
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Chest pain associated with breathing
    • Feelings of exhaustion or weakness
    • Loss of energy
    • Sleepiness
    • General body aches
    • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or bloody mucus
    • Presence of confusion or changes in mental status, such as confusion, loss of alertness, disorientation, defects in judgment, or strange or unusual behaviors
    • Changes in sense of smell or taste
    • Change in appetite
    • Red eyes
    • Headache
    • Muscle pain
    • Dizziness
    • Bluish lips or face
    • Unexplained falls or increase in falls
  • Depending on our assessment of the risk and/or recommendations of public health officials, we may test all consenting residents and staff; move from in-person dining to food delivery; cancel activities; cancel indoor visitation; and/or ask residents to remain in their apartments except for essential outings. Typically, restrictions are applied for two weeks and lifted if there are no additional cases identified.
  • All other precautions will remain in place, and we will continue to follow any additional guidance from the CDC or King County Public Health.

What kind of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) does staff use when assisting residents, whether or not they’re ill? Further, what kind of hygiene practices does your staff use in between residents so they do not transmit pathogens?

We are asking staff with symptoms to stay away from the community. We have increased our supply of PPE, and we are doing ongoing staff training on how to properly use this equipment. We use gloves with all residents, and staff use new gloves with each resident/apartment. We have been selective about full PPE. We only use it if resident is symptomatic or has tested positive for COVID-19.

RESIDENT PRECAUTIONS

How are you ensuring residents still have their independence and freedom?

All of our residents live with choice within our communities. We communicate often and urge our residents to consider their own safety, as well as the safety of their neighbors, our staff, and our staffs’ families when they make choices about their activities. We actively enforce compliance with any government mandates within our common areas to protect our residents and staff. However, we cannot control what residents do inside of their own apartments or when they leave our buildings.

How can residents safely visit with friends and family?

At this time, we are offering both outdoor and indoor apartment visits with small groups of family or friends, unless King County Public Health has advised us to pause indoor visits at a particular community due to current cases.

If a resident at a building with positive cases is eager to move and walk, what should they do? Walk the halls, back garden?

Walking is considered an essential activity. We ask that residents wear masks, practice physical distancing, and maintain excellent hand hygiene.

Is it safe to live in a retirement community right now?

We’ve all seen tragic stories in the news regarding certain congregate settings, such as nursing homes/skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), where physical distancing is challenging, and the virus has spread widely and rapidly. Retirement communities with independent living and assisted living have distinct advantages over these settings given that residents have their own apartments. Residents are generally a lot more independent and have more space to themselves than residents of SNFs. SNFs are clinical, healthcare settings, while retirement communities are residential.

If you are considering retirement living for yourself or a loved one, we advise reviewing the company’s COVID-19 precautions to ensure appropriate measures are being taken in common areas and that the company has access to sufficient testing resources.

ADDITIONAL FAQs FOR STAFF

What is Era Living doing to protect our workplace from COVID-19?

As you know, the elderly residents we serve are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and we have taken swift, responsive action to protect our communities from the spread of this virus. We began implementing protective actions at the onset of the virus’s identification in this area. We have worked closely with local and federal health officials and adjusted our response as the situation has evolved.

How should I protect myself?

We urge you to practice vigilance both at work and in your personal life, to protect yourself, your families, your co-workers, and our residents. We ask that you:

  • When you are at work or other essential outings, stay at least six feet away from others when feasible, and wear a mask.
  • Practice recommended personal hygiene habits in and outside of work, including washing your hands with soap and water frequently, and coughing into a tissue or your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you’ve just washed your hands.
  • While at work, do not engage in unnecessary contact with residents, such as hugging, hand holding, etc.
  • Avoid visiting hospitals, long-term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you do need to visit one of these facilities, limit your time there, wear a cloth mask, and keep six feet away from patients.
  • Stay away from people who are ill.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects (like doorknobs and light switches). Regular household cleaners are effective.
  • Practice self-care. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong. Take a break from social media and the news when you can, and do something that makes you feel good instead.

Do I have to be screened every time I show up to work?

Yes. Screening employees is an important precaution to ensure the safety of our residents, other employees, and their families. It’s also a requirement mandated by the governor.

Should I wear a mask to work? Is it required?

All employees are required to wear a surgical mask at work in our communities. Additional PPE is required when coming into close contact with residents.

I’m concerned about my safety or the safety of others in our community. Who should I talk to about this?

It’s our goal that everyone feels safe and supported at this time. We encourage you to first talk to your supervisor or your executive director about your concerns. If you are still concerned, then we want to hear from you at the home office. You can email safety@eraliving.com with your concerns or report them anonymously by phone at 206-470-8012.

What should I do if I feel sick, or suspect I’ve been exposed to COVID-19?

It is required that you report any signs of illness or any suspected exposure to COVID-19 to your supervisor by phone. It is important that you not report to work until you have been authorized to return by your executive director or supervisor (who must receive authorization from Karen Nordby, Regional Director of Operations). There are multiple locations to get tested for free around the King County area. Additionally, depending on test kit availability, you may be able to be tested by Era Living. Please discuss with your executive director.

I have symptoms of illness and/or have tested positive for COVID-19. When can I return to work?

Employees who are sick and have been diagnosed to have COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19 due to known or unknown exposure should stay home until the following conditions have been fulfilled:

  1. Follow-up testing has been completed and is negative, all symptoms have completely resolved, and at least ten days have passed since positive test. OR, it has been at least 14 days from date of positive test and symptoms have completely resolved.
  2. The Regional Director of Operations, Karen Nordby has provided approval to your supervisor or executive director for you to return to work. A doctor’s note for an employee to return to work is not sufficient at this time.

Employees with other symptoms of illness who have tested negative for COVID-19 may return to work when:

  1. All symptoms have completely resolved for at least 72 hours

I work at another senior living community or skilled nursing facility that has a positive COVID-19 case. What should I do?

All employees are required to report potential exposure to COVID-19 to their supervisor or executive director. If you work at another community, please notify your supervisor by phone as soon as you learn about a positive case there. It is important that you not report to work at an Era Living community until it’s been determined by the Regional Director of Operations, Karen Nordby, that it is safe to do so.

What emotional support resources are available to me?

We recognize that the uncertainty of this situation is causing a lot of anxiety and angst. We encourage you to take advantage of our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you would like any professional support through this. As a reminder, this is a free and confidential service available to all Era Living employees. Follow instructions given in previous memos or contact Human Resources for more information. There is a special resource section related to the coronavirus pandemic here. If you are finding yourself with heightened anxiety, you may find the “Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook”, published by The Wellness Society, helpful.

Will I get paid while out for an extended time related to COVID-19 symptoms or exposure?

Your executive director or supervisor will have more information if you need to take time off because of COVID-19 health reasons. A Time Off Request Form will need to be completed.

In response to COVID-19, we have temporarily expanded our sick policy, to help alleviate potential financial and other concerns that employees have felt while quarantined from work. If you are out for up to 14 continuous calendar days for reasons related to COVID-19 outlined below, then we’ll provide additional sick time that covers whatever shortfall your sick bank doesn’t cover during those 14 days. If you’re out longer than 14 continuous calendar days, you will also have the option to take an advance of up to five days of sick time (HR will be providing more details on this policy). You will then draw from vacation, if hours are available in your vacation bank. This benefit is available if you need time off from work for any of the COVID-19 related reasons listed below:

  • You have tested positive for COVID-19
  • You are caring for a member of your household who is COVID-19 positive
  • Your healthcare provider has advised you to stay home because of one or more of the following: you are age 65 years or older, have an underlying health condition, or you live with a high risk person. You may be asked to provide a certification from your healthcare provider, if applicable.
  • You are asked by Era Living for the reasons listed below to quarantine for 14 days or until testing can confirm you are negative for COVID-19. We are referring to this as “ERA-Quarantine” on time off request forms.
    1. You are experiencing symptoms
    2. You were possibly exposed while at work at an Era Living community
    3. You were possibly exposed while at work at a different company
    4. You were possibly exposed by a member of your household

The number of additional hours available to you is dependent upon three things: your sick bank, how many hours you are scheduled for the time you are on leave, and the length of your leave (a leave could be shorter than two weeks). Click here to view examples of how this works.

This benefit is designed to help employees who would otherwise run out of sick time so that they can continue to be paid while being out. Further, it is designed to help employees from depleting their vacation banks. Please read about Washington State benefits available to you should you exhaust all your banked time, outlined below.

This benefit was announced April 22, 2020, and is retroactive to March 1, 2020. We will be reviewing Time Off Requests to identify those who took time off for the reasons listed above to pay them sick time they didn’t have at the time and, if applicable, replenish vacation hours. If you were absent for one of the reasons above and did not complete a Time Off Request, please do so immediately. If you have any questions about this benefit, please reach out to Human Resources.In the event that you are out for an extended time, and you exhaust all paid time off options available through Era Living, Washington State has also enacted a number of benefits to support people who lose income as a result of COVID-19. Healthcare workers who are sick with COVID-19 or who are quarantined may be eligible for unemployment benefits or L&I time loss and medical treatment benefits. Visit the websites for the Employment Security Department (ESD) or Labor and Industries (L&I) to learn more and apply for benefits. You may also try to contact them by phone, but hold times tend to be extremely long (ESD: 360-902-9500; L&I: 800-547-8367). It may be helpful to note that unemployment or other state benefits do not typically pay at 100% of what you would receive through the use of company-sponsored time off banks. Below are several scenarios:

  • I was directed to quarantine by Era Living. If this applies to you, you should apply for unemployment benefits after exhausting time off benefits outlined above. The ESD has indicated that employees who are quarantined as a precaution by their place of employment are likely eligible for unemployment benefits should they run out of banked time off. Employees should file with the ESD here.
  • I believe I contracted COVID-19 through exposure at work: If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and you believe you contracted the virus through exposure at work, then you should notify your supervisor and file a claim online through L&I FileFast. Employees in this scenario may be eligible for benefits that might include both time loss and payment for treatment. The claim process should begin as soon as possible starting the first date of quarantine.
  • I have contracted COVID-19, but did not contract it at work: If you have a non-work related diagnosis of COVID-19, then you may qualify for FMLA (unpaid) and/or Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (paid through state benefits). Eligibility is specific to your situation, so please communicate through your supervisor or reach out directly to Human Resources at the home office. The PFML program is also administered through the ESD, and more information can be found here.
  • My healthcare provider has advised me to stay home because I am age 65 years or older, I have an underlying health condition, or I live with a high-risk person. You should speak with your supervisor to see if there are alternative work assignments for you. This may or may not be possible, given the nature of the work the we do. If it is not possible, then you will be given a leave of absence that protects your job. Leaves of absence are only paid to the extent you have sick and vacation banks from which to draw, including the additional sick time outlined above. Should you exhaust your banks, you should apply for unemployment benefits.
  • Due to a decrease in workload, I have been temporarily taken off the schedule. You will be given the choice of using vacation or sick time. The ESD considers this a furlough and you should be eligible for unemployment benefits even though you are still employed. Note again that unemployment benefits do not typically pay at 100% of what you would receive through the use of company-sponsored time off banks.

You should note that employees are not likely eligible for benefits through more than one state program– Unemployment, Washington Paid Family Leave, and L&I—at a time. Ultimately, it is up to Washington State ESD and L&I to determine eligibility. If you receive benefits from more than one program, you may be asked to repay a portion.

What happens to my medical benefits if I have to take time off of work due to COVID-19?

Your benefits will continue uninterrupted, even in the event you exhaust your sick and vacation banks, if:

  • You have been quarantined by Era Living
  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • You must stay home to care for minor children due to school/daycare closure
  • (Beginning April 13, 2020) You are high-risk as defined by the CDC and must self-quarantine

Any unpaid premiums will be put into arrears and withheld in future pay periods upon your return to work.

Have there been changes to other benefits that may help me financially?

401k – The CARES act allows for penalty-free withdrawals and federal tax deferrals for Coronavirus-Related Distributions (CRDs). It also allows required minimum distributions (RMDs) to be waived in 2020. Eligibility requirements apply. For more details, contact Voya at (800) 584-6001.

FSA – If you are enrolled in an FSA plan, then you can use those pre-tax funds for additional items. The CARES act reinstated over-the-counter medications without prescription to FSA plans. It also added menstrual supplies.

I heard that the federal government passed a law that gives employees more sick time. Does that apply to me?

No. The FFCRA, which went into effect on April 1, 2020, does not apply to employees at Era Living or any other senior housing provider. Healthcare organizations were specifically exempted from this law. Further, only small businesses are eligible. The positive side of this decision by the federal government to classify us as healthcare providers is that our industry has been listed as a priority recipient of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to keep our employees safe, and the classification enables our employees to access state benefits as outlined above.

ADDITIONAL FAQs FOR VENDORS

What communities have positive cases and how widespread is the outbreak?

To date, we have not experienced significant virus outbreaks at any of our communities. There are currently a limited number of cases across some of our eight retirement communities. You can view the latest information here.

What are you doing to protect your buildings from COVID-19?

As you know, the elderly residents we serve are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and we have taken swift, responsive action to protect our communities from the spread of this virus. We began implementing protective actions at the onset of the virus’s identification in this area. We have worked closely with local and federal health officials and adjusted our response as the situation has evolved.

What additional precautions are you taking in buildings with positive cases?

We continue to use our infectious disease protocol in an attempt to limit the spread of this virus and have strictly isolated those residents who have tested positive in our communities. Staff are self-isolating at home until it is safe to return to work. You can read more here.

How should I or my staff protect themselves when entering your buildings?

  • All visitors must wear a cloth face covering during their visit. We encourage everyone to follow the CDC’s recommendations and best practices on this. If a visitor needs to enter our building and does not have their own facemask, then if available, we will provide one for use during their visit. It must be returned to the front desk and will be sterilized before it is used again. We require vendors and other third-party workers to have a face covering given that many of them visit many senior living or clinical settings, which may increase their risk of exposure.
  • All visitors will be asked to wash their hands upon entering and leaving the community.
  • All visitors are asked to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from others, practice rigorous hand hygiene, and avoid touching their faces.

We strongly urge that everyone follow similar practices at other facilities and to exercise extreme caution and vigilance in your personal lives—following the guidelines from the CDC and public health officials.

What is your screening process for visitors? What if I or one of my staff members does not wish to complete it?

All visitors providing essential services are required to participate in a screening process before they are permitted to enter one of our buildings. If a visitor does not wish to complete this screening, then they will be asked to postpone their visit. All visitors must answer a series of screening questions to assess their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Those who meet any of the following criteria will be asked to postpone their visit:

    1. They have symptoms of illness or have been in close contact with someone with symptoms of illness, including fever/sweating, chills, repeated shaking with chills, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pain associated with breathing, feelings of exhaustion or weakness, loss of energy, sleepiness, general body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody mucus, presence of confusion, change in mental status, red eyes, change in sense of smell or taste, change in appetite, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, dizziness, bluish lips or face, or unexplained falls or increase in falls.
    2. They have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or someone who has been exposed to COVID-19.
    3. They have recently visited or come into close contact with someone who has visited any other building or business associated with a known case of positive or presumed positive COVID-19.
    4. They are unvaccinated and have recently returned from air travel. Visits should be delayed for at least 14 days after return, and you can confirm no symptoms of illness such as those listed above.

Additionally, all visitors must have their temperature taken upon entry. Those with temperatures above 100.4 degrees F will be asked to postpone their visit.

Media inquiries should be directed to our publicist, Natalie Quick 206-779-0489.

Please note that these pages are not intended to be all-encompassing and should not be considered to be providing medical advice. In all instances, you should consult with a relevant expert for guidance specific to your circumstances.