As we continue to live through the Coronavirus pandemic, there is finally hope on the horizon. On Thursday, Feb 4th, our residents and employees received the 2nd dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine.

We continue to follow all instructions and listen to updates from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and we are still restricting all non-essential visitors.

For the safety of our residents, they are not allowed to leave Brookhouse premises except for critical medical appointments. We have made every attempt to be creative in our activities and social gatherings inside while maintaining adequate distancing.

We thank you for patience during this time. Please call or email me with any questions 978-740-2493

 

 

 

 

Judy Kane, Administrator
jkane@brookhousehome.com

Updates to Families

March 18, 2021

Dear families,

There is finally something BIG to celebrate! The women of Brookhouse are FINALLY having meals in the dining room all together!! You should hear the chatter and laughter. It’s amazing and so wonderful after an entire year of having meals in their rooms. Since everyone has been fully vaccinated, it is now allowed. Today the ladies enjoyed a delicious St. Patrick’s Day feast of traditional corned beef and cabbage prepared by Chef Dennis. Irish soda bread and apple cake completed the meal. There was a lot of green in the room – New, handmade St. Patrick’s day masks were given to every resident. It’s so good to see everyone enjoying themselves and smiling. In a few minutes, Claude Fournier will be performing on the piano! (He has been vaccinated!)

The visitation rules have changed, but just a little. If visitors are fully vaccinated, there can be up to 4 people visiting at a time per resident. We still are using the formal parlor and dining rooms for visits, and still need to be scheduled with Marsha. mdicesare@brookhousehome.com

Per my weekly call with DPH today, we also heard that new residents, and residents returning from rehab or the hospital and are vaccinated, do not need to quarantine. This is also huge news. These weekly DPH calls are always led by Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Lab Sciences at MA DPH, and his team. Today, Dr. Madoff updated that although we are moving in the right direction, and can see the “light at the end of the tunnel” there is still a tunnel. Concern specifically is that the virus and “variants of concern” are still lurking and we need to remain vigilant wearing masks and social distancing.

Vaccinated individuals may gather in smaller settings but we need to remember that the guidance given to the general public by the CDC, does not always stand in Long Term Care settings. We need to continue enhanced precautions.

All in all, things are improving. This past year has been a nightmare for everyone, but we have continued to stay on the path to wellness.

Stay safe, and be well. Get vaccinated!

March 4, 2021

Happy March to everyone!

Since my last update, things have continued to improve on the COVID front. It has been one month since any resident or staff has tested positive and we can resume family visits, by appointment and with precautions, but it’s an improvement! Most all of us have been “fully vaccinated” (meaning two weeks have passed since receiving the second dose of the vaccine). The MA DPH and CDC are still asking that we practice the same precautions, so we follow their mandates. I do expect that we will be able to ease restrictions a bit in the coming months and when the warmer days are here it will be nice to get outside, and visits can be outdoors as well as indoors.

In April, we will be upgrading our electrical system in the whole house. We are in need of an updated service with more amps, that will allow us to improve our HVAC systems. As this is a 200+ yr. old building, it will be a big project. There will be some minor disruption to the residents, and we have informed the ladies that this is a good time to do some “spring cleaning” in their rooms, and we can help. The electricians will be installing new outlets so we need access to all the walls.

We have two new residents and would like to remind families that we appreciate referrals if you know of anyone who could benefit from residency at Brookhouse! We have a few available rooms, which is rare, and we’re ready to welcome new ladies to the house!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Spring! Please contact me anytime with questions.

February 9, 2021

Hi everyone,

The most exciting news I can report to you is that on Thursday, Feb 4th, our residents and employees received the 2nd dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine. (A few received their first dose, and Walgreens is coming back on February 25th for the last doses.) Considering where we have been in the last 11 months, this is great news!

We were about to resume family visits this week, when we learned that unfortunately one resident tested positive for COVID just before she received the second dose of the vaccine. Therefore, we must go forward 14 days from Feb 4th before we can resume visits. Although this is a setback, I believe it is going to be much smoother sailing from now on.

Additionally, residents may have mentioned to you that they’ve been seeing some new faces around the home. That is because the MA DPH sent us some extra helping hands last week, due to a shortage of staff who were out needing to quarantine. Three RN’s and 3 CNA’s have been extremely helpful and professional in filling in. This DPH response team is very experienced and have been travelling all over to assisted livings, nursing homes and rest homes to fill in where they are needed during the pandemic. They will probably be gone by later this week, but it was very helpful to have them while they were here.

I want to thank you all for your patience and cooperation during these most trying times ever. Rest assured we are taking the best care of your loved one, and we are all looking forward to the spring when we can go outside, breath in some fresh air, and feel our energy renewed. Stay safe, and be well!

January 15, 2021

Hi everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that our first COVID vaccine clinic went off without a hitch yesterday. We are very excited to have the first dose given to all residents and staff. We have heard no complaints from anyone other than some arm soreness at the injection site, but all is well otherwise. The second dose will be given on February 4th. Again, it will be run by Walgreens pharmacists and staff.

Please remember that we are still expected to practice the same precautions (masks, social distancing, limited gatherings, meals in rooms, and no going out unless emergency or necessary medical appointments) We are required to follow the rules given to us by the MA DPH and the CDC. As soon as we are told we can relax or reduce some precautions, we will let everyone know.

January is off to a good start! Be well!!

December 11. 2020

Hi families!

I hope everyone is doing well, and staying healthy during these difficult times. We have been doing great, given the restrictions placed on our activities and all the ladies are well. The COVID testing guidelines we must follow have been weekly testing of 100% of our employees. This week, one employee tested positive for COVID-19. That person has no symptoms but must stay home and quarantine for the next 14 days.

According to MA DPH regulations, we now must test 100% of our residents which we just completed today. Test results should be in by Sunday. Please do not call us to ask about results – no news is good news and if your loved one is infected, we would immediately let you know. Because we have practiced such diligent precautions, I do not expect anyone will be positive. However, as you all know, this virus is insidious.

Sadly, the rules also dictate we must cancel all group activities and family visits for the next 14 days. We know how difficult this will be especially leading up to a holiday. We are trying to keep spirits up with music, festive food, and room visits. I just went room to room with a poinsettia plant and a holiday card for each lady. There are other things coming as well – one family is donating Chinese Food for New Year’s Eve, another family is gifting chocolates, and a couple of local charities are giving a small gift bag to each lady and a cash gift. I can tell you more about that later on.

Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about all of this. We are doing absolutely everything in our power to take care of your loved one, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Stay well, be safe, and have a happy holiday!

November 3, 2020

Dear families,

Another season is upon us and the weather has cooled. I hope this finds you all well. I also hope that you are coping with this pandemic individually and as families as well as can be expected. Rest assured that your mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, friend at Brookhouse is also well and being taken care of by all of us here. We remain COVID free!! However, the pandemic is not slowing down unfortunately, and is actually on the rise. Salem is expected to be in the red soon, per Mayor Kim Driscoll, and all residents of the city are being asked to get COVID tested twice in November. There are free testing sites in many are locations.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and we have great plans for an enjoyable day here for all residents. With extra thought and planning, we will be having two seatings downstairs for dinner. We will arrange tables in a few different locations so they are distanced, 6 feet apart, and the ladies of Brookhouse will be able to enjoy a meal OUTSIDE of their room for the first time in months! We are going to make this a special occasion for them and many extra staff will be here that day to help them have a nice day. Chef Dennis and his staff are preparing all the traditional turkey day fixings and some extra touches!

I’m sure you all understand this is not your normal holiday season, but we will increase indoor visits and virtual visits for all families the day before the holiday. Visits with the residents should still be scheduled through emailing or calling Marsha, Activities Director. mdicesare@brookhousehome.com . Because we will all be busy here on Thanksgiving Day, family visits will not be scheduled. Just as we did on Halloween (you may have heard) with our staff Thanksgiving parade room to resident room – we’ll make sure they enjoy themselves! And, the day after Thanksgiving, we will have our annual pajamas and pizza day – everyone looks forward to it!

Please stay well, and let us know if you have any questions.

September 16, 2020

Hi again everyone,

I am forwarding the following from Marsha who kindly listed the complete list of rules. Have a great day!

  • Visitors need to sign in with phone number and email upon arrival at the door
  • Visitors have to notify us if they develop any symptoms within 2 days of being here
  • No bathrooms to be used by visitors
  • Temperatures will be taken and visitors cannot have recently been in contact with Covid positive people
  • Cannot have traveled recently
  • Nothing brought in for residents
  • Only 2 visitors per visit
  • If a brief hug is wanted, hands must be sanitized before and after hug, and must face away from each other.

The visitation schedule is as follows,

visits are 30 minutes long and have to be booked with Marsha in advance of the day

Monday 10:30am or 11:00am
Tuesday 1:00pm or 1:30pm
Wednesday 1:00pm or 1:30pm
Thursday 1:00pm or 1:30pm
Friday 10:00am or 10:30 am
Saturday 10:00am or 10:30 am

Have a great evening!

Kindly,

Judy Kane
Administrator

September 15, 2020

Hi everyone!

First and foremost, all residents and staff of Brookhouse remain COVID free! We are on a bi-weekly surveillance testing schedule which allows us to monitor staff.

Today I wanted to update you on some news we received from the MA Dept. of Public Health. It’s good news – – Beginning September 25th, we are able to have indoor visits! The visits still have to be monitored by our staff, and in a designated area only. We knew at some point we would have to be able to adjust the pandemic visitation policy as weather changes.

Visits may be outside as long as weather permits so, on the day of your visit, you will be informed if you will be indoors or outdoors. The front living room and formal dining room will be used for this purpose and entrance will be through the front Derby St. door.

Thank you for your continued patience as we adhere to the guidelines: They are as follows:

  • Visitors must remain at least 6 feet from the resident and attending staff member for the majority of the visit.
  • Brief physical contact may be allowed if desired by both the resident and visitor. In order to reduce risk of transmission individuals must:
    • Use hand sanitizer before and after contact;
    • Hug with faces in opposite directions; and
    • Limit the duration of close physical contact and avoid close face-to-face contact even when face masks are used.
  • Staff, residents and visitors must wear a face mask for the duration of the visit.
  • Brookhouse will schedule frequent cleaning and disinfection of the designated visitation space.

Visitors must continue to schedule visits at least 2 days in advance by calling Marsha DiCesare, Activities Director. Call 978-744-0219 or 978-740-2493 and press 5. Or you can email Marsha at mdicesare@brookhousehome.com

Please – no last minute calls into nursing for visit requests! Due to the fact we must supervise every visit, and we have limited staff, we cannot have multiple days of multiple visits and Marsha will do everything possible to accommodate every family.

Thank you so much for helping us keep our residents safe!

Kindly,

Judy Kane
Administrator

August 17, 2020

Hi everyone!

I hope your summer is going well and you are all staying safe.

Following up on my August 1st email, I wanted to let you all know that our one resident who tested positive for COVID in July has completed her quarantine period of two weeks is healthy and is able to return to normal activity. We also had to test all the staff again because of that, and I’m happy to say that we were all negative for COVID. We are now back to a fully COVID free house!!

Brookhouse is continuing to follow all state and DPH guidelines and are still not allowing visitors (except by appointment outside) and we continue to have meals delivered to residents’ rooms. Another positive is that our ladies are able to enjoy some socially distanced activities! Marsha is doing a great job seeing to that!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

jkane@brookhousehome.com

July 28, 2020

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all doing well. Here we are in the middle of the summer and trying to stay cool – in many ways ! ?? The breeze from the ocean has been lovely! We are happy to see many of you visiting your family member here in our garden or on the lawn. As a reminder, you can call or email Marsha at mdicesare@brookhousehome.com to schedule a time to visit.

The COVID pandemic continues to be on the forefront, but we are faring well and having some fun wherever we can. Please see our newest blog entry on our website to see some of the creative ways we are focusing on “Wellness”.

Building community is key to good health and wellness outcomes

As I’ve mentioned in other communications, we are totally following the stringent guidelines of the MA Dept. of Public Health and the Governor. We have performed the baseline COVID testing of residents and staff. On July 7, we tested all employees. Everyone was negative for COVID. As also per guidelines we then tested 30% of employees last Thursday, July 23. One staff person tested positive, although asymptomatic. That staff member is now out on quarantine and not working until after that period of 14 days passes. Due to the fact we had a positive test result in the house, we now will be testing ALL staff again, and ALL RESIDENTS as well. No one has shown signs or symptoms. After this mass testing is complete, we then will be testing all staff EVERY WEEK. The residents will not be tested again. Once 100% of staff has been negative for 14 days, we will then go back to bi-weekly testing of 30% of staff. These are the the rules set by the state.

I feel very confident that we are doing everything possible to keep our residents well. If anyone has questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or RN Carol Gawrys cgawrys@brookhousehome.com

Kindly,

Judy Kane
Administrator

June 5, 2020

Dear Families,

Spring is here! Our grounds are blooming under Julia’s green thumb and creative spirit. We have a new raised bed for a kitchen garden; everyone is excited to see things grow. Her creative bunches of beautiful peonies around the house brighten our day.

Chef Dennis has broken out the grill and we look forward to eating out as soon as the restrictions allow.

Marsha has initiated a sharing and caring group to allow all to verbalize how they are feeling in this moment; many then realize they are not alone in their feelings. Marsha also continues to schedule FaceTime and Zoom for residents at their request or family’s.We are very fortunate to report no positive covid-19 cases are in our building. This is directly related to the stringent adherence to the guidelines put forth by the Department of Public health through Governor Baker. Precautions such as no communal dining, masks worn by all, temps taken on all staff as they enter daily, social distancing and no residents off BH property must remain in place.

On a bright and positive note. Governor Baker has issued a memorandum that will allow outdoor visits with residents to occur with physical distancing, and protection requirements described below in detail:

Visit will occur in a designated outdoor visitation space
Only scheduled and confirmed visits are allowed
A staff member must remain with the resident at all times during the visit
Visitors are limited to no more than two individuals
Visitor must remain at least 6 feet away from resident at all times – no exchange of food, drinks or gifts allowed.
Staff and resident will wear surgical masks, visitors must wear face covering during the visit
Visit scheduled in advance and is weather dependent, sufficient staffing, and the health and well-being of the resident dependent.

Visits at Brookhouse will begin on June 9, 2020. They will be Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 1:00p-2:00p. Each visit is limited to 30 minutes. Please book your visit through Marsha, contact her at mdicesare@brookhousehome.com. Marsha will get back to you with your confirmed visit date and time.

We appreciate everyone’s continued patience and cooperation as we keep your loved ones safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.

As the Governor stated today , the timing of when we can begin to return to “normalcy” is 100% dependent on how well we continue to adhere to the precautions. So far, I am very proud to say that Brookhouse has exceeded in all areas.

Feel free to contact us with any questions. Stay safe.

Kindly,

Judy Kane
Administrator

May 22, 2020

Every single resident at Brookhouse remains COVID-19 free! As a baseline, staff and residents were tested by the National Guard on 5/11 and the results were 100% negative for the virus! This has been an incredibly difficult time for our residents and our staff. Not being able to see their loved ones has many residents feeling down, but our staff is doing an amazing job at keeping spirits up. We have been face-timing and Zoom-ing with family members, and making sure we have activities where the women can still enjoy while maintaining a safe distance. Everyone is wearing masks, and we are not nearly ready to relax our precautions. There is clear evidence here that what we have been doing is definitely working, so we will keep doing it all! We will certainly let everyone know when we are ready to allow new admissions, and possibly some visitors – but not yet!

Thank you for your continued support and faith in Brookhouse.

Sincerely,

Judy Kane, Administrator

March 16, 2020

As the Coronavirus situation evolves, we are making every possible effort to reduce the risk to our vulnerable population. We are receiving daily instructions and updates from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

We have restricted all non-essential visitors. Essential visitors include medical personnel and our staff. Upon entry, they are screened and their temperature taken. Temperatures above 100.3 and over are not allowed inside. Deliveries are received outside.

Today we have informed residents that they can only leave the property for essential medical appointments. Many providers are cancelling non-urgent medical appointments. We have instructed our residents they may go outside, but must remain on Brookhouse property.

We thank you for patience during this time. Please call or email me with any questions 978-740-2493

Judy Kane, Administrator
jkane@brookhousehome.com