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Contact: Steve Vinson, Senior VP for Communications
Telephone: 229.931.5925
Cell: 662.891.3236
Email: svinson@magnoliamanor.com
Website: www.magnoliamanor.com

July 22, 2020

Magnolia Manor COVID-19 update

Magnolia Manor Home Office, Americus, GA, July 22, 2020 – President and CEO Mark R. Todd reported that Magnolia Manor campuses remain closed, despite plans to reopen. The organization had been preparing to reopen some campus programs if no new cases of COVID-19 were present.

“Because our residents are at higher risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC, the Governor’s order has extended our Shelter in Place until August 11. We don’t know if it will be extended beyond that.”

“The order requires persons living in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, including assisted living communities and personal care homes, all of which we operate, to continue to shelter in place.”

“In addition, many of our residents also have other chronic conditions covered by the order, so they would be required to shelter, even if they didn’t live with us.”

Chief Operating Officer Hill Fort added, “The order also restricts gatherings and such things as communal dining. Our residents also love to visit the campus beauty shop, so you can imagine how unpopular that announcement was!”

“Our residents are tired of being so restricted. We really feel for them. They have not had the human interaction or physical activity they used to enjoy. It’s really sad. Our staff are going out of their way to compensate, but social distancing rules prevent them from being able to replace everything residents used to enjoy before the pandemic.”

Todd added, “This whole thing is so unnatural for our residents. We have requested a new interpretation of “Shelter in Place” to include appropriate precautions that would allow for more social interaction. This is important for their mental health and overall welfare.”

“If you’ve ever been on a cruise ship, you know how easy it is to lose perspective. Our residents feel the same way because they are in such a small, restrictive environment. It’s really beginning to affect some of them, so we feel we must be their advocates. Shelter in Place was supposed to be about protecting them, but we are seeing another side of this lockdown that is very concerning.”

He added, “We aren’t being restrictive or punitive: we’re just adhering to the requirements we’ve been given. We understand that no one really knows how to navigate this pandemic, and we’re all doing the best we can. But these requirements are having unintended consequences, so we’re trying to advocate for our residents with our regulatory authorities.

Todd continued, “We and other providers have also expressed concerns about staffing issues, PPE shortages, the need for frequent reliable testing and retesting of both residents and staff, and the need for additional funding as we continue to battle this virus.”

Magnolia Manor had made numerous adjustments to meet the needs of residents during the pandemic. Instead of congregational worship, chaplains now deliver devotional thoughts in hallways as residents come to their doorways to listen. Some sing or play the guitar to add excitement. One resident plays the dulcimer. Chaplains also record sermons and post them on social media. Campus activity directors visit with residents individually. Some use “cheer carts” loaded with a different surprise each day. It may be flowers one day and ice cream the next, or it could be silly costumes that provide the perfect photo op. The perennial favorite, Bingo, now happens with residents sitting in their doorways while staff call out numbers from the hall.

The Executive Order also prohibits visitors in long-term care facilities, so families have been staying in touch through phone calls. Others work with staff to use computers and smart phones to make video calls instead of in person visits.

Todd went on to say, “We urge families to stay in touch because our residents need regular contact with people they love. However, it concerns us that because of hearing difficulties, some residents have opened their windows to visit with family members who drop by. This compromises their own health and the welfare of others in the building. All it takes is one person failing to follow social distancing rules, and our resident could be infected. Then, we could have an outbreak,” said Todd.

“We have now purchased ultra-light full duplex wireless headsets for each campus to help residents hear better when conducting window visits. The resident uses one unit, and their loved one uses the other. Because both are noise cancelling, even our more hearing-impaired residents have fewer problems understanding family members. The units aren’t cheap, but we wanted ones that were reliable and could be sterilized between uses. We hope this will prevent the need to open a window.”

Alternatively, he urged family members to protect their loved ones by using cell phones to talk to each other when conducting window visits, instead of opening a window or door and putting our residents at risk.

“Our residents are fiercely independent. You don’t live to be 85 or 90 years old unless you’re strong. They don’t like being told what to do, but I’ve been amazed that so many have taken the restrictions in stride without complaining. They are amazingly resilient and are even willing to try new technology.”

Fort indicated that while Magnolia Manor complies with the current Executive Order, they continue to talk about reopening. Political pundits trying to capitalize on the pandemic are making it harder for his staff because family members are hanging on every word they hear.

“While we talk about reopening, we also talk about how we might have to continue in lockdown indefinitely. One thing is certain: what we are doing now is not sustainable, nor is being so restrictive in the best interest of our residents.”

Todd added, “We might be protecting them from catching the virus, but is there a sad price to be paid in the process? Our residents don’t complain, but we certainly see the consequences of such a restrictive government mandate. Hopefully, our leaders will give us some professional latitude to be more flexible within our lockdown perimeter.”

Meanwhile, for the seventh consecutive week, there have been no new resident COVID-19 cases at the Americus Nursing Center.

Todd stated, “In fact, we had no residents test positive in the last seven days anywhere in the organization, and only one Magnolia Manor resident remains hospitalized! The seven residents at our South campus who previously tested positive have now received two consecutive negative results and are considered recovered even though they never exhibited any symptoms. This week, nine employees tested positive as part of our routine testing, but only two were symptomatic.”

“Residents and employees are all treated as infected if they test positive, even though we are convinced many are false positives. This illustrates what I said earlier about needing reliable testing. For one thing, imagine the emotional strain of receiving a positive result and wondering if or when symptoms might appear. That’s a burden no one should bear, especially a ninety-year old resident.”

Magnolia Manor continues to test residents and staff regularly as a safeguard against new outbreaks.

Thirty-four Nursing Center residents have recovered, and eight have passed away. No residents are currently receiving in-house care, and none are hospitalized. Thirty-three employees who previously tested positive have since recovered. Only one new employee has tested positive in the past week.

The Americus Retirement Center has no new resident cases, and the only resident to have tested positive has recovered. This week, one employee received a positive test result. Four other staff had previously been diagnosed, and all have now recovered.

The Mattie Marshall Memory Care program in Americus continues to report no resident or employee cases.

The Columbus East campus has no new resident cases this week. This week, Magnolia Manor reports ten more residents have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to fourteen. Eighteen residents continue to receive care in-house, and none are hospitalized. Eight residents have died of the disease with no new deaths this week. Seventeen East employees have tested positive since the pandemic began, with one new positive this week.

At Columbus West, six residents previously tested positive, and five are receiving in-house care. Unfortunately, one has now passed away. There have been no new resident or employee positives this week.

At the Columbus Assisted Living program, there have been no new cases reported this week among either residents or employees. One employee previously tested positive.

Magnolia Manor’s Marion County campus has reported no new resident cases in the past week. Eleven are receiving care in-house, and one remains in the hospital. Five have recovered, and there have been no new deaths. Previously, two residents died of COVID-19. Sixteen employees have tested positive for the virus, including one new one this week.

As reported earlier, residents at Magnolia Manor South in Moultrie who previously tested positive were retested twice and found to be negative both times. They remained asymptomatic and are considered recovered. No campus employees have tested positive this week or previously.

The resident at Magnolia Manor on the Coast in Richmond Hill has now been cleared with two consecutive negative test results and never exhibited symptoms. There has been one new staff positive this week. One employee had previously tested positive.

The St. Simons Nursing Center has no new identified resident cases, but two employees tested positive this week. Four staff had previously tested positive.

There continues to be no know positive resident or employee cases in the St. Simons Assisted Living program. The employee who was previously reported as positive has now been cleared.

Magnolia Manor of St. Marys has reported no new employee or resident cases after one employee previously tested positive.

The Midway campus in Liberty County reports no new resident or employee cases after one resident and three employees previously tested positive. The resident continues to receive in-house care.

Magnolia Manor’s Macon campus reported no resident cases, but two employees tested positive this week.

The organization has regularly reported that any staff with symptoms are placed on leave and must be cleared before returning to work. Residents testing positive receive care in a special campus quarantine unit to help control the spread. Strict infection control protocols are utilized across the organization, including the use of PPE.

Magnolia Manor continues to follow all guidelines recommended by the CDC, CMS and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

As a 501(c)(3) faith-based nonprofit, Magnolia Manor welcomes donations, which are tax deductible as allowed by law.

Headquartered in Americus, Georgia, Magnolia Manor is a faith-based, tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization affiliated by covenant with the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Magnolia Manor was established in 1959 and employs almost 1,000 staff who serve about 1,500 senior adults daily throughout South Georgia. Services at our nine locations are open to all persons, regardless of denominational affiliation. We provide various levels of care, including Independent Living, Catered Care, Personal Care, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Rehabilitative Therapy and specialized Memory Care.

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