Our plea for broad testing

Broad-Based Testing, Paired with Aggressive Preventative Measures, Markedly-Reduces COVID-19 Spread at Ida Culver House Ravenna

  • Two rounds of broad-based early testing for residents and staff in early March provided much-needed data that informed preventative measures and has helped keep infection rates low
  • We are making an impassioned plea for immediate broad-based testing for all elderly and staff in retirement, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities

On April 6, we announced that data from two rounds of broad-based COVID-19 testing at one of our communities, Ida Culver House Ravenna, informed targeted preventative measures that continue to show promising low COVID-19 infection rates.

“Through partnership with the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) and with the support of the Seattle Fire Department and the City of Seattle, data stemming from two rounds of broad testing among all 80 residents continue to greatly inform our aggressive preventative measures and thus far, have kept infection rates very low – even when the risk for outbreak was high following two known infections in early March,” said Nisan Harel, Vice President of Operations. “We know that elderly individuals, and those who care for them, are most at-risk for COVID-19 infection. It’s time to allow broad-based testing for all residents and staff in retirement, nursing home, and assisted-living facilities to help inform targeted preventative strategies to protect residents and staff, while also preserving valuable personal protective equipment.”

Results from Rapidly-Deployed Early Testing Showing Positive Results

On March 10th, 2020, just one day after learning that the community’s first COVID-19 positive resident passed away – and receiving news of a second positive resident – we partnered with UWMC to deploy rapid broad-based testing onsite for all staff and residents.

The quick and thorough response enabled the immediate identification of three more residents and two staff members who were positive for COVID-19 at Ida Culver House Ravenna. The residents were asymptomatic at the time of testing, and identifying the virus at this early stage enabled the Ida Culver House Ravenna team to strictly isolate them and put targeted, aggressive preventative measures in place. We changed our staffing schedule to avoid staff crossover to other residents and ensured staff interacting with positive residents were fully protected with PPE. In addition, the following strategies were implemented to help inhibit further spread of the virus:

  • Restricting non-essential visitors and screening essential visitors for risk factors.
  • Taking temperatures of all staff at the start of their shifts and all visitors.
  • Canceling dining room meals.
  • Canceling all resident activities, including bus outings to the grocery store.
  • Doubling frequency of surface cleaning and disinfectant protocols in common areas.
  • Reminding all residents and staff to practice rigorous hand hygiene and avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Strongly encouraging staff to take extra precautions in their personal lives given the vulnerability of the residents we serve (in advance of government orders). This includes, among other things, staying at home and avoiding large groups of people as much as possible.
  • Committing to transparent and frequent communication with our residents and staff.

To test the effectiveness of these strategies, a second round of follow-up testing was conducted on March 17th in partnership with UWMC. Only one new resident was confirmed as COVID-19 positive, and we are pleased to report that today three of our four positive residents are now negative. Since the second round of broad testing on March 17th, only one new staff coronavirus case has presented at Ida Culver House Ravenna.

Figure 1. COVID-19 testing outcomes at Ida Culver House Ravenna

Era Living Pleas for Greater Testing Availability to Protect Elderly Communities and Workers

As a result of these outcomes, we are making an impassioned plea to local, state, and government officials to begin enabling broad-based testing immediately for elderly individuals across retirement, nursing home, and assisted living communities.

Harel added, “It has been heartbreaking to watch the coronavirus situation unfold in communities around our state.  We know from our own experiences – as well as data from countries such as Germany and South Korea, that are succeeding using broad-based testing – that identifying those infected early can dramatically change outcomes for the better. Prioritizing PPE for broad testing for community living environments of vulnerable people would be far less wasteful and in our opinion, more effective at curbing the spread of the virus, than trying to use PPE on everyone in our communities.

Please note that an earlier version of this page and our press release excluded the support of the Seattle Fire Department and the City of Seattle in our acknowledgement. We apologize for this omission and are grateful for their support.