Ricochet News

ECHO implements further preventative measures

May 28, 2020
ECHO implements further preventative measures

Port Elizabeth - With the exponential growth and risk of exposure around the country growing every day, it is critical that those individuals with existing and underlying health issues and particularly the elderly, are protected by robust protocols and procedures.

"At the ECHO Foundation, we have a ready-to-go crisis management plan in the event of a potential outbreak in one of our retirement villages or frail care facility," says Dean Gurney, ECHO Foundation CEO.

"The health and safety of our residents and staff remain our top and only priority at this time, and we will keep doing everything humanly possible to keep their risk of exposure low.

"This being said, and all will agree, there is no perfect plan to combat this unseen virus, which sometimes shows no signs or symptoms."

ECHO Foundation in Port Elizabeth has 10 independent living villages with 1 500 Residents, along with a Frail Care facility in South End housing 150 Residents, as well our Walmer Township facility, housing 10 residents.

"Our Residents in Frail Care are cared for 24/7 by 76 carers overseen by a nursing management team. These residents are in varying states of health, as well as a third in differing stages with Dementia and Alzheimer’s," Gurney explains.

"The ECHO Foundation Pandemic Response Team (ECHO PRT) has undertaken a complete risk assessment and gap analysis, including constant monitoring of residents and daily screening of all ECHO staff on entering and leaving the premises.

"We are cognisant of the fact that even with strict screening protocols in place, it will not always be possible to identify a person carrying the virus showing no symptoms."

He adds that the ECHO PRT have implemented full set of protocols, procedures and protective measures to minimize the risk of exposure to staff and residents prior to lockdown in March, however in recognition of the pervasive nature of COVID, the ECHO PRT have developed a detailed contingency and action plan including additional PPE and Hazmat gowns, screening/testing directives, contact tracing, and transport protocols, as well as the preparation of isolation and quarantine areas. Prescribed treatment measures,

"OCSA contact procedures, standby deep cleaning and a list of standby replacement staff are on hand in the event of a positive test result or outbreak."

Currently visitors are prohibited by law under Stage 3 of lockdown from visiting the residents, which is extremely taxing on the emotional and mental wellbeing on both the residents and their families, however entirely necessary to limit the risk of exposure to our residents.

"We are particularly heart-warmed by the manner in which our ECHO carers have stepped up to fill that emotional void of the Residents as best they can," Gurney adds.

"ECHO management has been in contact with other aged care facilities and villages in Port Elizabeth, sharing information and supporting one another in any way possible. Both Heine Barnard, CEO of Methodist Homes, and Maureen Andreka, CEO of Algoa Bay Council for the Aged (ABCA) concur, that sharing of information and supporting each another is most valuable at this difficult time.

"As our President states: WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! For the aged and elderly, and those that care for them, that looks to be for some time yet to come."

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