Home health care faces COVID-19

Tara Hutchison/Torrington Telegram Shawn Wyse the owner and director of Robin’s Nest Home Care of Torrington stands with her business’ sign. Workers are urged to continue taking precautions.

GOSHEN COUNTY – Community health care faces challenges during the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

Shawn Wyse the owner and director of Robin’s Nest Home Care of Torrington said her staff has been instructed on the precautions they need to take when caring for clients.

“The point of home care is to help patients that would otherwise be institutionalized or in a facility with the help of services we provide, and other people in the community provide,” Wyse said. 

Wyse said the clients who receive home care are able to stay in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. Patients who receive home care for the most part are not seen by health care providers other than staff within the company. 

Home care staff provide assistance during visits and medication setup, and Wyse said the Robin’s Nest staff make sure patients have adequate supplies to last two-weeks in case they can’t leave home.

During the current health concerns Wyse and her staff are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of their clients. Wyse said Robin’s Nest is keeping current with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are strategizing accordingly.

Wyse said the most at-risk are patients who have heart and lung problems, brain injuries and diabetes. A major concern that Wyse has is if the staff has to be in contact with a patient who tests positive for the virus is how to make sure they are not spreading it on other visits.

“We’ve had to sit down, like this morning we had a group, we came together as all of our staff to prioritize who has to be seen first,” Wyse said. “We talked to the senior center and they have a plan in place where they can still deliver meals. We offered that if we have to go pick up meals for our patients, we will,”

Wyse said with the prioritization they can ensure patients are getting seen if one of the staff falls ill. In order to keep the staff and the general public safe, they’ve addressed protocol for employees when faced with the potential exposure to the virus.

“We are screening everybody that comes into our office, we are screening everybody that we go into their home – even if they just have a neighbor over there visiting. Everyone that is in the home at that time, we are monitoring them for a fever,” Wyse said. “Anybody with a temp of 100.4, we are going to mask up and we are going to ask them to leave and we are going to have to monitor them closer and we’re going to have to put them in isolation.”

Wyse said the staff is being extremely cautious to disinfect every frequently touched surface such as doorknobs, countertops, etc. These are common practices that are already in place, but they are just adding extra steps to make sure they are able to prevent it as much as possible. 

Robin’s Nest clients have been provided a newsletter explaining the importance of frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizer as much as they can – especially after going into public places. Wyse said they have also been advised to have over-the-counter medications available to treat illnesses and to stay home and get enough rest if they do become sick.

The challenge they face is ensuring patients still receive care in the event of a quarantine.

“That’s our hard one,” Wyse said. “We actually have calls out to the Department of Health, and Public Health as well, for guidance on that because we have our plan if somebody gets sick and how we cover them, but what happens if one of our staff comes up positive? And then has exposed all of us.”

If a quarantine is put in place, Wyse worries who will be able to serve the clients for those two weeks, but they are awaiting confirmation as to how to handle that part of the situation. 

“I hope that these measures are going to help,” Wyse said.