December 21, 2021
Dear Regina Health Center Community,
On behalf of the employees and administration of Regina Health Center and the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, I extend our warmest greetings for a Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year!
Once again, our celebrations and festivities will be accompanied by pandemic awareness and COVID precautions. But, thanks be to God, we will have the comfort and consolation of being able to visit with family and loved ones. The isolation of last year’s pandemic restrictions made us aware and appreciative of the importance of our connections with one another. While there seems to be no let-up in this most recent variant of the coronavirus, we are fortunate to have the benefit of the vaccine this year. Having recently received the vaccine booster shot, we are in a much better position this Christmas season to welcome visitors.
According to CMS and CDC guidance, visitation is permitted, as before, and residents are permitted to leave the facility as well. Because of the surge in the omicron variant, we are asking everyone to take a cautious approach for the health and well-being of our residents. We are requesting that masks be worn at all times, even during visits. Although it may seem inconvenient, it is a very small and reasonable compromise to ensure the well-being of your loved ones. Of course, masks have always been a requirement for employees at all times throughout the pandemic. The added measure of safety afforded by masking of residents and guests during visits is a wise investment in caution.
Also according to CMS and CDC guidance, visitors are permitted to visit only in residents’ private rooms. Residents with a roommate should visit in a lounge or parlor away from others. Once temperatures are recorded and visitors have signed in, guests are asked to go directly to the resident’s room, refraining from accessing other areas of the facility. Regrettably, this means that guests are not permitted to share a meal with the residents in the dining rooms or attend Mass in the chapel or other Activities events. While disappointing, we understand that this is one reasonable measure we can take to help ensure the well-being of our residents.
Another reasonable measure to ensure the safety of all is to refrain from visiting if you are unwell. Cold-like symptoms are often the precursor of a positive COVID test. Influenza and other upper respiratory infections can have a very serious negative effect on our vulnerable population. Virtual visits are a good alternative; we can assist residents – and even provide an i-pad – to accommodate such a visit. Please exercise good judgement when deciding to visit or to take a resident out of the facility for a family gathering.
It’s important to recognize the heroic efforts of our staff over the past 18 months. Already a challenging job, the task of caregivers and support staff have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Regina employees have risen to the challenge of added work and a reduced workforce. Please make sure you thank them and recognize them for their tireless efforts. While gifts to individuals are not permitted by Health Department rules, expressions of appreciation and gratitude are always welcome and encouraged. Nominal gifts for the benefit of all employees, such as cookie trays or other modest gestures, are appropriate and appreciated.
Once again, I want to point out that the best way to eradicate the coronavirus is to be vaccinated. Science tells us that if the virus has no hosts in which to replicate and spread, it will cease to be a threat. This is not my opinion – this is scientific fact. This week, thousands of our fellow Americans have died from the coronavirus, but not a single person has died from the vaccine. Even our Holy Father has advocated for vaccination. In an address to the American people, Pope Francis said, "Being vaccinated with vaccines authorized by the competent authorities is an act of love. And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love." He added: "Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable."
I will close with another wish for a blessed and Merry Christmas to one and all. May the New Year bring us prosperity, peace and good health. And may God bless each of you and those you love.