We are in the midst of a once-in-a-century health crisis. Take a moment to let sink in. We are in the worst health crisis our world has seen in over 100 years. And as an Assisted Living and Memory Care community, we take this very seriously.

As a country, we have hit the point in this pandemic where 1 in 860 Americans have died from the virus. We’ve topped 424,000 deaths, and expect to have lost more than 500,000 within the next few weeks. Many of us have lost friends and loved ones – or gotten that awful text that someone just tested positive, asking us to pray they have a “mild case.”

For those of us in contact with seniors, the fear that we might infect those we care for is constantly at the forefront in our minds. At Teresa’s House, we’re proud to say that we are one of the only communities to have NEVER had a resident come down with COVID, and that we’ve been able to safely allow family visitation, so our seniors have been able to enjoy normal life.

But the fight is far from over, and we are about to enter a new phase with new threats. What we’re learning is worrisome.

COVID-19: What We Know

We have been on CDC or TDSHS (Texas Department of State Health Services) calls weekly since they started in March, and we read the latest on this virus every single day. The physicians we confer with are as concerned as we are after this week’s COVID call with TDSHS.

The latest round of bad news on that call focused on the arrival of the B.1.1.7. variant, first discovered in the UK. It is projected to be at least 50% more contagious than the current variant that has already killed so many Americans. Children are particularly vulnerable to this new strain and even worse, it appears to be at least 30% more deadly than the original virus.

It is now in over 30 states, including Texas.

More troubling is that there are also new variants being identified in South Africa, Brazil and Nigeria that are likely just as contagious and potentially more deadly than B.1.1.7.

On the plus side, we are relieved to see vaccines being administered across the country, and that steps have been taken to ensure that we have the critical stocks of PPE, medications, oxygen, ventilators and testing equipment. But not everyone is eligible, and roll outs take time. While we wait, we remain dedicated to doing all we can to reduce the spread of this deadly disease. And Teresa’s House was just approved as a vaccine provider, offering ongoing protection to our seniors and team.

What We’re Doing

We take the ongoing threat extremely seriously and work our tails off to keep everyone safe. We built UV lighting into our HVAC systems, provided KN 95 masks to all of our staff and built a community where every patient room can be set up for isolation/negative pressure as an added safety measure. Teresa’s House has been recognized as the safest senior care community in the state for COVID. That means enhanced safety for our residents and greater opportunities for families to stay connected and involved with their loved one.

Right now, our focus here at Teresa’s House remains the same: to keep your loved ones safe and connected by following strict COVID protocols and providing the most caring, homelike environment possible.

  • As we move forward with ongoing vaccinations, it is important to understand that the vaccine may not be as effective with these new strains, and our seniors will remain particularly vulnerable, so we will work to provide updated vaccines as they are available.
  • Providing ongoing updates and education for our families to help ensure safe visits.   
  • We will continue to follow the protocols for our staff and guests including:
    • Taking our own personal responsibility very seriously by avoiding public gatherings in the outside community, wearing masks, frequent handwashing and being extremely cautious when out in public.
    • During surges/lockdowns, helping our seniors connect through video chat and other technologies when face-to-face interactions are not safe or possible.
    • Ensuring medical grade PPE be worn by all staff members, and visitors. The quality of masks matter and we set our standard at KN95 or N95 and above. Good masks save lives.
  • Making sure our seniors maintain a healthy lifestyle with
    • Engaging inside and outside activities,
    • Daily movement and exercise,
    • Delicious (and nutritious) homecooked meals
    • Lots of laughter and fun – laughter really is the best medicine
  • Helping our staff stay mentally and physically healthy so they can care of our residents. We work to stay positive, vigilant and well-informed.

How You Can Help

We are all so tired of COVID and its impact on our lives. But we cannot let our guard down and we cannot do this alone. Please help us protect the most vulnerable in our community. Stay safe, get vaccinated as soon as you can and upgrade your mask. 

If you or a loved one think it’s time for assisted living or memory care but have been hesitant to get the help you need due to COVID, please reach out to us. We are about to open our last state-of-the-art custom small-house-designed home for new residents.  Nationwide the small house design has proven to be safest, and ours is even safer.  We would love to tell you more about how Teresa’s House offers an unparalleled standard of living in the safest environment possible.

This is a 2-part blog series. Read Part 2 here.