Facilities administration in a pandemic can be difficult to understand, especially for those who have not experienced one. At Evershine Care want to help others emerge from this pandemic by explaining how we managed the care of our clients and facilities during and after the pandemic.
How It Started
Like most facilities, Evershine Care was caught off-guard by the pandemic. We were prepared for the symptoms of the pandemic, increased precautions, a stressed workforce, and fear. We were not prepared for the side effects of moving to a pandemic-proof environment. Evershine’s leadership got right to work, even before the lockdown was announced. We asked all non-clinical, administrative staff to work remotely. We put very strict infection control measures in place, guided by the CDC and the local Department of Health. Our compliance team drafted policies for PPP, work assignments, testing, and eventually, vaccines. We also had to do the same thing for our clients. Asking clients and families to socially distance themselves from their loved ones is a delicate exercise in diplomacy. We did not take for granted what we were asking people to do. We had asked these same families to trust us with the care of their family members, and now we were asking them to stay away. Moving our environment from an open door to a closed community was difficult, to put it mildly.
Evershine Care provides care to diverse clients who have many complex diagnoses, in four facilities. Our clients’ needs require very competent, highly skilled, and compassionate people to provide for them. As the world copes with the pandemic, it is essential to remember that this virus impacts not only adults but also those who are developmentally disabled. As healthcare professionals in an ICF’s model of care, our primary goal is to help these individuals cope with the pandemic. We have found that providing basic information about how people can protect themselves from infection and what symptoms they should be alert for can give them a sense of security during a time of uncertainty.
We arguably have the most high-tech, compassionate, and dedicated staff of any facility of its kind. We’re very proud of the team we have in place. When our clients became isolated, so did our staff. We decided we needed a strategy for both clients, and staff impacted by isolation. Last, we needed to have a strategy for working with community organizations, and regulators to ensure we were staying compliant with existing licensure requirements, medical, nutritional, transportation, and clinical staff. For the first time since we opened our initial facility in 2014, we were challenged internally and externally for the first time.
Immediately we got to work. We had a four-prong strategy, safety, compliance, retainment, environment, and wellness. It’s our SCREW program, and we still use it today.
Safety measures included CDC guidance, the social distancing of clients and staff, and locking down the facilities. Compliance measures include PPP protection, safe distancing practices, and infection control measures. Retainment meant we had to convince our talented team members to stick with us throughout the pandemic. We retained our qualified staff through incentives and pay increases. Environmentally, we shut down. We asked that our employees not work multiple jobs or multiple worksites. We asked that everyone use extreme caution and safe distancing practices, even when not on Evershine grounds. We ensured the environment inside our facilities, while isolated, was still nurturing for our clients. Finally, we made wellness a priority. With some help from state partners, we ensured each employee knew where to connect with community resources for mental healthcare. For our clients, behavioral health services were pivoted to a virtual experience.
How It Went
With very few exceptions, every member of the Evershine care team pulled their weight and assisted others when needed. We participated in every session with our state department of health partners and sustained our environment as mapped by our compliance team. As cases began to fall around the country and vaccines became available, Evershine care had maintained a rate of infection of zero. We were able to retain most of our staff, and recruitment efforts were robust. We toed the line, and it made all the difference for our clients. We invite others to learn from our program and will gladly share our strategies with other ICF facilities.
And as always, we will continue to provide all necessary services: food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, patient transportation (if needed), onsite activities, and off-site community resources. It may not be the same, but it is a new normal we’ve embraced for optimal living for our clients.
4844 Calle Bella Ave
Las Cruces, NM 88012
By appointment only