Hospice Sainte-Croix begins COVID-19 testing for field staff – Brainerd Dispatch

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Hospice Sainte-Croix officials want Brainerd Lakes area residents to know that they are doing everything they can to keep the most vulnerable safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Brainerd’s office began weekly COVID-19 testing for all field staff, including nurses, aides, social workers and chaplains, according to Cate Pardo, the Hospice’s public relations coordinator. Holy Cross.

“All 14 local staff members tested negative, which is great news for our medically fragile patients and our nursing home and assisted living partners in the communities we serve in Crow Wing County,” said said Pardo.

St. Croix Hospice provides end-of-life care and advocacy to patient, family, and caregivers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.

“We are an independent palliative care agency,” Pardo said. “The reason we did this is to ease the burden on nursing facilities of having to test staff who aren’t actually, you know, their employees.”

The weekly staff testing comes in response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ recent announcement requiring COVID-19 testing for all skilled nursing facility workers, including visiting hospice staff.

“They should have basically tested our clinical staff, and we kind of take that on ourselves and say, ‘You focus on your facility staff, and we’ll do our own testing, so you don’t’ You don’t you don’t need to add additional tests to your already full plate,” Pardo said.

Jared Anderson is the regional director of clinical operations for St. Croix Hospice, which caters to patients who don’t normally seek end-of-life care, and the care agency never turns away anyone who isn’t able to. pay for palliative care services, officials said.

“Our primary patient is someone who has been given an expected prognosis of six months or less, so based on his diagnosis and medical history, his doctor and primary care team said, ‘It’s likely that ‘They die within six months,’ that’s the qualifier for hospice,” Anderson said.

Such patients include, for example, people who are immunocompromised or have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

“We serve a patient wherever they call ‘home,’ whether it’s a private residence, an assisted living facility, or a skilled nursing facility,” Anderson said.

Completing employee testing means helping to ease some of the burden on congregate care settings, he said.

“We knew that our EHPAD partners were going to have a logistical problem. It’s a lot to manage, you know, coordinating the scheduling of recurring testing at this scale, so we proactively looked for an option for our team to reduce that burden on them,” Anderson said.

St. Croix Hospice Minnesota offices include Grand Rapids, Hermantown, Brainerd, Sartell, North Branch, Bloomington, Oakdale, Mankato and Rochester.

“We don’t have to,” Anderson said of COVID-19 testing of employees administered by St. Croix Hospice. “By being proactive, we are reducing the number of tests they (nursing facilities) have to run while providing them with the results they need to have.”

Swabbing the nasal cavity involves Hospice Sainte-Croix staff members administering the test on themselves under the direct supervision of one of Hospice Sainte-Croix’s registered nurses.

“What they do is they take the swab in a sterile procedure, which we train them on, and they insert about half an inch into the right nostril and twirl it around for 15 seconds, pull it out , insert that same swab into the left nostril, do the same 15-second process,” Anderson said.

St. Croix Hospice workers who test positive for COVID-19 are immediately removed from the field to minimize exposure to others and quarantined per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“All of our employees do daily symptom tracking where they monitor themselves for any respiratory symptoms as well as the temperature which is reported to our branch managers at the end of the week unless there is a positive symptom,” said Anderson.

“Entering hospice early has many benefits,” including symptom management, pain relief, medical stabilization and comprehensive support for patients and their families, according to officials at Holy Cross Hospice.

Anderson said St. Croix Hospice’s COVID-19 testing of its caregivers is intended to ensure that patients and others living in congregate settings continue to be protected from contracting the potentially fatal respiratory disease.

“We take this to really be leaders in the community and do our part in trying to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by being in multiple facilities and being able to meet patient needs when it is the more critical,” Anderson said.

FRANK LEE can be reached at 218-855-5863 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at

www.twitter.com/DispatchFL

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