Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness & Response
UPDATE: December 16, 2020
As cases rise off-campus, Westminster-Canterbury has seen a noticeable increase in staff infected with the coronavirus. Staff have family who also work or attend school. These cases are being handled according to our protocols, and we have no evidence of any resident/staff cross-contamination on campus. So, complete masking all parties indoors in common areas and handwashing do work!
Additionally, residents have been traveling off-campus to visit family in larger numbers around the Thanksgiving holiday. Many also leave campus for medical procedures. So, we have recently learned that several of our Independent Living residents have tested positive for COVID. All positive cases are quarantining in their apartments and are being monitored by our healthcare team.
Per CDC guidelines, other residents who had direct contact with the positive cases are staying in their apartments.
We have suspended all common area events and common area dining for a reset period. We still have no confirmed cases in our Assisted Living and Hoy Nursing Center.
NO resident is on “lockdown.” All quarantining residents may leave campus to visit with families off-campus if escorted by our team to and from their mode of transportation. Those with direct exposure may not be in our common areas on campus until cleared of COVID.
Update: December 2, 2020
Click Here to read CEO Ben Unkle's Coronavirus Update that he recently shared with our residents.
UPDATE: November 6, 2020
As we head into colder weather and the holidays, we are blessed that all of our residents continue to be COVID-19 free.
This virus has been with us for nearly eight months. While our policies evolve, our COVID Principles are the same.
Allow residents to CHOOSE among options for their own protection that provide:
As much of the FREEDOM of a private residence as possible;
As much of the SERVICE of resort-style senior living as possible; WHILE
HONORING THE NEEDS OF THE VULNERABLE wherever individuals mix on campus.
The most dangerous activity on our campus is taking off our masks to dine indoors for the typical duration of a meal with persons whose behavior presents greater risk. Still, we have allowed older adults to take the risk of sit-down indoor dining in common areas for their social and mental health from the beginning of this pandemic. This option is limited to residents who have followed similar, mutual precautions. Residents may leave campus at will any day or every day, but those residents who leave campus at will may not use our seated dining venues in our common areas. Pool and exercise activities where heavy breathing occurs indoors is also restricted to avoid mixing persons taking differing levels of precaution. Residents who leave our campus do have a special gym and simply pick up their meals or have meals delivered to their apartments.
Residents may move from one precautionary range of options to another. Regaining green band status for unrestricted use of seated dining and some common amenities does require a reset period in order to give some level of assurance to our other diners about the precautions taken by fellow diners who may be seated nearby.
From the beginning, we have created new programs for visits and engagement during the pandemic.
As the weather has grown colder, we have added indoor visitation venues for families, with convenient daytime and nighttime hours. To ensure the health of our residents, each venue has a plexiglass divider between the visitors and the residents. Masks are worn at all times. Residents book these visitations in advance.
Our Transportation Services continue to provide rides, for a nominal fee, for those who do not wish to drive to their medical, dental or veterinary appointments. The team also offers a variety of automobile maintenance services to keep cars in good working order.
For those who wish to drive and keep their car active, while maintaining a green wristband status, we have launched a GPS tracker system. This system allows residents to go to their health-related appointments while the community has the assurance that they are not also traveling to high-risk places, which would put the rest of the community at risk.
Our COMPLIMENTARY grocery delivery program continues to be popular with our residents. We have also enhanced the grocery offerings of our on-campus Starfish Pointe store.
To help keep our residents engaged while adhering to critical social distancing requirements, we added 12 to 14 hours each day of virtual engagement programming on our internal TV Channel-143. This allowed residents to continue to enjoy fitness, educational and other programs, many of which they previously had to participate in person.
We are extremely pleased to announce that we have partnered with Coastal Pharmacy to offer pharmacy services on campus. Known as Starfish Pharmacy, it accepts all insurance plans. A full line of prescription drugs are available as well as a selection of over-the-counter medications and vitamins.
People need to be needed. Our residents have always given back to the community -- both Virginia Beach and Westminster-Canterbury. They have been nothing short of amazing with their time, expertise and enthusiasm during this pandemic. A few initiatives we would like to highlight:
Birdsong Tutors - Residents serve as virtual tutors to students in need, many of whom are the children of our staff members. Using the BirdsongTutor.com platform, they are helping children with math, reading, spelling, English and more. If you would like to become a Birdsong Tutor or have a child in need of tutoring, please visit www.birdsongtutor.com. Also, check out the coverage of the program on CNN -- https://vimeo.com/458199475
More than 25 of our Independent Living residents decided to pool their creative abilities and make holiday goody bags for their friends in our higher levels of care. They made more than 150 bags for Halloween and are now working on gift bags for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
To ensure older adults remain connected and engaged to people off of our campus, we offer two programs:
Norfolk Academy students are contacting WC residents for mentoring and companionship via our Birdsong Tablet.
Video calling via our Birdsong Connect App is connecting families to loved ones around the world in a senior-friendly way.
Never has the value of living in a Life Plan Community where one has a “tribe” of neighbors willing to love and support each other and with extra supportive services been more apparent. Our residents are constantly expressing gratitude they are NOT required to fend for themselves in a private house during this pandemic. As always, the key to joy and well-being is socialization and choice. We must balance all dimensions of wellness and still provide appropriate precautions to protect those in our community whose health is vulnerable when the stakes are so high.
We hope this update finds you and your family healthy and happy. Should you have any additional questions please feel free to call our COVID Hotline at 757-217-2387.
August 20, 2020
We are pleased to share with you a recent news story reported by Investigative Reporter Chris Horne of WAVY-TV10 about Westminster-Canterbury's success in preventing COVID-19 from entering our campus.
August 7, 2020
We have our first positive COVID test of a red-wristband resident (residents leaving campus at will). It was caught via testing in our early exit protocol test through the desire of the resident to move to green wristband status (use of common areas) earlier than 14-days. The resident did not have significant contact with other residents. However, one staff member and two other residents are quarantining in apartments out of an abundance of caution due to their sharing one of our transportation vehicles and the same driver.
August 5, 2020
We have no knowledge of any positive cases among any of our residents, a rare feat for an organization our size. However, as cases climb in Hampton Roads beyond our campus, we have seen community spread reach some of our team members. In this most recent case, detailed below, the individual was asymptomatic and these types of cases cannot be caught by screening.
One of our part-time Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) who last worked at our Hoy Center on July 30th received a positive COVID test result. This past Monday, August 3rd, (four days after the CNA last worked at Hoy), we conducted COVID testing on all Hoy Center residents, for the second time, as part of our current testing protocol.
All COVID tests for Hoy residents that have been returned thus far remain NEGATIVE.
All Hoy Center team members are being tested again this week. Based on this new positive team member result, we will continue our weekly testing of BOTH all Hoy Center residents and Hoy team members. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines require at least two weeks of testing with all negative COVID results before weekly testing ceases.
Our precautions of wearing our masks correctly covering both nose and mouth, screening and checking temperatures for each team member daily, social distancing, and frequent handwashing, have been effective firewalls protecting residents. We believe these precautions will continue to result in the same excellent record of resident protection.
As we have in the past during this pandemic, we will continue our efforts to be transparent and keep our residents, their families, our staff and others updated on COVID-related information.
July 20, 2020
As cases climb in Hampton Roads beyond our campus, we are starting to see community spread reach some of our team members, mostly through their own family members at home. Asymptomatic cases cannot be caught by screening. Fortunately, we also see that when we test those who work around infected staff members that our workplace protocols for both residents and staff (masking always, washing hands, and physical distancing) have been effective and held up well to stop further spread on the campus. Thus far, the virus has not infected any residents.
Last week, we closed some dining venues when a teammate was positive, reopening only as the staff was cleared to return to work. Wider tests of dining staff have shown us that our firewalls are effective in stopping spread: masking at work for both staff and residents, physical distancing, and frequent handwashing all worked because the results from wider dining team testing were very favorable.
On July 20, we learned one of our Hoy Center teammates (who does not have direct patient care duties) has tested positive for COVID. As a precautionary measure, we are increasing the frequency of monitoring of vital signs of residents in Lighthouse 1B closest to where our teammate works. Some of our leaders had sufficient contact that we are asking them to work from home until cleared for return.
Our experiences here teach us all that we each have the power to protect ourselves from COVID using the firewalls we have implemented: mask, physical distance, and wash your hands frequently. These steps help tremendously.
July 13, 2020
ALL of our residents remain 100% COVID-19 free.
However, as COVID cases rise outside our campus in Hampton Roads, particularly after the July 4th holiday, we are also seeing some increased staff infections which are limited at this time to our dining team.
We are voluntarily closing two dine-in venues after consultation with the local Health Department and will test all the dining staff who worked in these venues out of an abundance of caution. The closure should last a week, but reopening will be dictated by the test results and the timing of getting those results. In the meantime, we will deliver meals and will keep our Overlook Dining Room, our third dining venue, open. Our kitchens are fully operational. Westminster remains rare in the industry for having kept its community indoor dining rooms open safely during the pandemic with strict infection control to limit the chances of the virus spreading from staff (who must travel in the broader community) to residents.
Staff members who fail our daily screening or have symptoms are quarantined and tested. All team members wear masks, even in our kitchens and other places where that is uncomfortable. We continue to set the standard for infection control. We were recently notified that our Hoy Center is under consideration as a Pillar of Excellence by the health department for its infection control processes.
June 9, 2020
Virginia Department of Health Point of Prevalence Survey Results Show Westminster-Canterbury COVID-19 Free: More than 1100 Residents and Staff Tested
On June 2-3, 2020, Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay voluntarily accepted an offer by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to test all residents and staff for the COVID-19 virus. None of the more than 1100 residents and staff that participated in the survey tested positive.
Because Westminster-Canterbury is a large campus of over 1100 residents and staff and has remained COVID-19 free, the VDH was extremely interested in performing this survey with our population. The campus’ experience runs contrary to the experience of other senior living communities of similar size.
“While we are extremely thankful that our community is COVID-19 free, we will continue with the protocols that got us to this point, including social distancing and wearing masks,” said Westminster-Canterbury President and CEO J. Benjamin Unkle, Jr.
Update: April 28, 2020
We know that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is understandably top of mind for those who live and work in our community and for their families. The preservation of health and safety guide all the steps below to protect the well-being of all on our campus.
Our community is blessed to have no cases of COVID-19, and our goal is to keep it that way.
We can attribute much of this to our COVID-19 Task Force, which meets daily to review our current state and plan for the future. The task force adjusts our policies and protocols to leading information and the latest best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), and the Virginia Department of Health. This ensures we are educated and prepared.
We also credit the health of our campus to everyone adhering to the COVID-19 preventive measures we have put in place. We know these policies and procedures are not always easy and can restrict daily life and work activities, but they have proven to be effective. Thank you for your cooperation.
Below are some new updates on life at Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay during this pandemic.
All residents are asked to wear cloth masks if they leave their apartments. Team members have been required to wear masks since March 30th as a precautionary measure. Our Medical Director recommended these steps to enhance the protection of physical distancing.
Residents have access to Birdsong Tablets and the FREE web version of the tablet at www.birdsongtablet.com. This technology helps to promote engagement and prevent social isolation and boredom. The tablet has 8000 curated entertainment experiences and user-friendly video communications tools.
Outpatient therapists have been assigned to specific resident areas of the Westminster-Canterbury community as a precautionary measure.
Other Measures Previously Implemented
Only essential medical professionals and team members are allowed in The Hoy Center, where the long-term care members of our community and skilled Stone Rehab patients reside. This precaution further protects our most vulnerable residents. We do permit end-of-life patients to receive family members in accordance with their end-of-life wishes after a visitor health screening has been completed.
No visitors are allowed on campus, except pre-approved essential medical professionals and service vendors which are very limited. These individuals, along with our team members, are screened upon entry and are required to wear a mask.
Residents are not allowed to leave and re-enter the campus grounds unless they are scheduled for a medically necessary appointment. This is to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. Our health care team arranges for telehealth visits and complimentary transportation when hands-on care is necessary. Villa residents come and go freely and enjoy meal delivery, but do not use our Towers.
Attendance in large group gatherings is restricted. In its place, Westminster-Canterbury offers 12 hours of programming on our in-house TV station, including educational and fitness classes, lectures, concerts, and other entertainment as well as community worship and other events.
Lengthy isolation can create health hazards, too. Our residents continue to dine in our on-campus restaurants which are open, adhering to social distancing, and limited to small group sizes. We also offer a home delivery service option for dinner for all who wish to remain in their apartment homes.
We provide complimentary grocery shopping services for Independent Living residents who want to cook their own meals.
From the beginning of the pandemic, we strongly encouraged team members and residents to follow CDC recommended practices which are proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water; covering your cough; staying at home if you are sick; avoiding close contact with others who are sick; and carefully wiping down desks, computers, tables, door handles, etc., with disinfectant cleaners. We have posted signs on our entryway doors to notify visitors of the symptoms of COVID-19 with a request that visitors do not enter if they are experiencing these symptoms.
Open and transparent communication is crucial. We will continue to provide updates on our website. This is in addition to the direct conversations we have with our residents, their families, and our team members.
Finally, I want to take a moment to thank the many people supporting the work we do to provide a safe and healthy environment for the residents we serve. While currently, many of our efforts address COVID-19, we continue to focus on our mission of creating a community that fosters joy and well-being for our residents as we navigate through these changing and challenging times together. We appreciate your support.
J. Benjamin Unkle, Jr.
President and CEO
Westminster Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay