Resident Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are answers to commonly asked questions about the coronavirus and how it will affect day to day life at The Highlands of Wyomissing. If you have resident or family questions, please contact the Pandemic Response team at (484) 220-8500 or [email protected]

Quarantine FAQs

Who is being quarantined?

Residents returning from doctor’s appointments, the ER or hospital, or anywhere outside of The Highlands’ campus will be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days.  Those who have been traveling or away from The Highlands for an extended time are also being quarantined.

If quarantined, how is mail accessible?

Quarantined residents should contact Maintenance to have their mail delivered.

Will I be quarantined if I walk outside?  Can I walk on the Wyomissing trail without being quarantined?

Today you can walk the campus outside, but remember to stay 6 feet away from other walkers.  Please refrain from walking the Wyomissing trails.

Are people who are quarantined permitted to sit on their balconies or patio or walk around outside?

No. It is vital that residents remain in their residence for the duration of the quarantine period.

Will we be permitted to leave the campus? I have lots of appointments and as long as I wear a mask, can I keep these appointments?

As a clarification the governor has extended the stay at home guidance for Berks County until June 4th.  At this point in time, regarding before June 4th, the answer is “no.”  Residents can go to required appointments that can not be scheduled through telehealth but will be quarantined for 14 days upon their return.   

If/when a resident has been placed in quarantine, will there be any charge for any of the services (namely laundry, trash collection, mail delivery, etc.) The Highlands will provide during the 2 weeks?

At this time there is no charge. 

Health Services FAQs

Since we can't visit my dad we are sending cards every couple days. Are you still delivering the US Mail to the residents in Skilled Care?

Yes

Does the Highlands have an intake process for accepting packages from family members to be delivered to the residents? If so, can items be dropped off any time during regular business hours or have specific days and/or time slots been instituted?

Families members are welcome to drop off packages at the front desk.  We will see that the package is delivered to your parent.

During the Zoom conference it was mentioned that we could call Vickie McNeill to set up specific date and time for facetime. My dad does not have a cell phone or tablet. Does Vickie provide the tablet?

Yes, Vickie has a tablet in which your parent could use to Facetime with you.  Call Vickie McNeill in Skilled Nursing at 484-220-8389 to schedule a date/time for the Facetime session with your parent.

I understand the necessity of keeping residents in their rooms and appreciate the ability to Skype with my mom and the family - is there any other plans for streaming activities? Basic cable is getting boring for those who are still mentally alert.

We understand that basic cable can get boring and as such have expanded the number of movies, intellectual programs, and musical entertainment being broadcast on our in-house TV channel 956.  Our activity director, Vicki McNeill, will make sure your family member is aware. 

If my mother becomes ill, how and where will she be treated?

If your mother becomes ill or sick, we will take care of her as we always do.   In conjunction with our Medical Director, The Highlands at Wyomissing has established protocols, for caring for anyone who is presumed or confirmed to have contacted the Covid-19 virus.  As always, we would inform the Resident’s family and include them in discussions with the physician.  Options to mitigate risk by assessing residents in-house as opposed to being sent to the hospital will be discussed with you if it is an appropriate option. 

Are residents eating in any of the dining venues?

Guidance was issued on March 19th by the CDC and DOH and all dining rooms have been closed since that time and residents in all levels of care are being provided meals in their rooms while communal dining has been temporarily suspended.  

Are residents isolated in their rooms? What efforts are made to engage them? Any plans for outside activity as the weather improves?

For their safety and well-being, residents are encouraged to remain in their rooms; however, in both Personal Care and Skilled Nursing if residents are walking in the hallways or in the common areas we endeavor to maintain social distancing at all times.  We have held some socially distanced activities such as hallway bingo. 

Skype, Facetime and other virtual platforms are being used to engage with family and friends.  Please contact Vicki McNeill at 484-220-8389 (Skilled Nursing) or Kathy Marabella at 484-220-8515 (Personal Care) to request arrangements. 

In Personal Care our residents are welcome to enjoy our new, secure outdoor spaces when weather permits.  In Skilled Nursing, available staff have been encouraged to accompany residents outside as often as possible.  We recognize the importance of everyone getting fresh air and sun!     

Are non-residents being admitted?

Contract residents are being admitted, but please understand that anyone coming from outside of the Highlands' campus is being quarantined for 14 days.  

How are residents in Personal Care and Skilled nursing accessing salon services?

The salons are currently only operating for Residential Living residents that are functionally unable to wash and set their own hair.  Our Personal Care and Skilled Nursing staff are trained to wash resident's hair and will be providing this service to residents needing any assistance.  

I understand there is renovation work progressing in Heather Court. How is that done compliantly to protect the Heather Court residents during this time of work shutdown?

There isn’t any renovation work occurring in Heather Court.  General maintenance to refresh and paint available rooms is being handled by Highlands staff who are screened at the beginning and end of each shift. 

Is work also progressing on the new memory care section?

Yes.  The area being worked on is completely cordoned off from residents. Residents do not have any interactions with the construction team.

Please provide a quick update on the progress and timeline of the Blue section and the common areas.

We believe that this question is being asked about the current status of the construction project to renovate Personal Care.  Although work continues, the project remains behind schedule and we do not foresee this project ending until late June. 

Will you be testing all the residents of Skilled Nursing?

Recently we have obtained test kits for COVID-19 and have tested all Skilled Nursing and Personal Care residents.  Results have been communicated with the residents and their families. 

As the situation has been changing so much recently, is it possible to schedule these calls more often?

Yes.  Zoom meetings with families of Personal Care and Skilled Nursing are held on Mondays and Thursdays at 2:30 p.m.  Please contact the Pandemic Hotline to sign up for the call.

I would like to ask Dr. Winans or his representative to share the doctor's routine of care, (i.e., how often does he check on residents)?  What is his assessment of the situation at the Highlands? 

Dr. Ruxandra Jadic is The Highlands’ Medical Director and is responsible for the oversight, care, and wellbeing of all residents in Skilled Nursing.  She has instituted the virus assessment which includes 12 signs and symptoms that may indicate viral systems.  This virus assessment is being completed on all residents in Skilled Nursing.  

Our assessment of the situation is a very serious one.  We take very seriously the spread of the coronavirus.  Every day we do our part to aggressively prevent and mitigate the spread as we deliver compassionate care under challenging circumstances. 

How have sanitation procedures changed? How often is 'deep cleaning' happening?

We are continuing to do the enhanced cleaning which we implemented on March 11.  The enhanced cleaning is focused on sanitizing high touch areas.  All other cleaning is being done routinely. 

Please share how nursing supervisors are monitoring staff-resident interactions, such as handwashing, changing gloves, etc. to reduce cross-contamination.

It is the responsibility of all staff to monitor and be responsible for all interactions.  All staff are trained on basic precautions which includes washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, how to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, changing gloves between resident care, and donning and doffing PPE. More importantly, our team is continuing to do enhanced cleaning of high touch areas which is designed to stop the spread of contagious illnesses.

What concerns do the staff (medical and aides) have regarding the policies and practices currently in place?  Specifically, I am interested in the impact of state level policies requiring nursing homes to accept patients with COVID-19.

What concerns all of us is simply the unknown.  We are highly trained and competent in managing outbreaks.  We are up-to-date and knowledgeable regarding the latest guidance issued by the CDC and Department of Health.  But we are still learning much about this new virus.  The health and wellness of our residents and the staff who support them is our top priority. 

How soon will tests results be shared with families? Will it be difficult if the resident has dementia or is combative?

Test results are shared as soon as they are available generally 2-3 days.  Yes, due to the nature of the testing it can be difficult for any resident.

Are Personal Care residents able to get coffee at the coffee bar or is it closed?

The coffee bar in Personal Care is closed at this time.  Coffee can be served with their meals to their apartments.

Have you found replacement staff for the employees that have tested positive?

Yes, we are using our own per diem staff.

Are all personnel regardless of symptoms being tested?

The Highlands is not testing staff.  Staff are being referred to their own physician for testing for symptoms.

I know staff routinely monitor O2 levels.  When staff get a low O2 do they consider COVID as a cause?

In accordance with Highlands’ protocols and guidance issued by the DOH, we are checking vitals 3x/daily.  This includes, pulse oximeter reading, temperatures, et al.  Any noted changes are being communicated to the clinical team and the Medical Director.

Will there be testing of residents again in the future, or will that be determined only if additional symptoms surface?

Yes, if physician deems appropriate and if symptoms present.

If a resident is on hospice care but positive, how is The Highlands managing this? What, if anything, is being done for the residents? What happens if the resident expires for any reason including Covid 19?

Regardless of the Resident’s needs, we will provide care and services in accordance with our protocols and under the direction of our Medical Director.  In your example, any Resident on hospice will remain on hospice. 

Do Special Services such as Physical Therapy travel between locations?

No, Therapy staff are assigned specific locations 

Can flowers and other items be delivered to Skilled Nursing and Personal Care?

Yes, please drop the items at the front desk and we will deliver the items to the residents.

All all meals made in the same kitchen?

yes

My mom lives at The Highlands. She has tested positive for COVID-19. She seems fine as of now. If she would show symptoms, would the family be notified the same day?

Yes, all residents having tested negative or positive.

I heard caregivers are no longer permitted in Skilled Nursing until the situation improves?

They are permitted if a consistent assignment can be arranged by Home Care.

Are staff wearing full PPE for residents who are negative?

Staff are wearing N95 masks, goggles and gloves, but not gowns.

Social Distancing and Health Precautions FAQs

How long will this social distancing/isolating last?

The well-being of our residents and staff is our primary focus.  We will continue to follow the direction being provided by the CDC, CMS and PA Department of Health, and public safety officials as it relates to social distancing/isolating from others.

Are we allowed to have other Highlands' residents visit us in our apartments?

No, a better option is to call, email, Facetime or send letters/notes.

Should we be wearing masks when walking through the hallways or in the common areas?

Based on CDC and DOH guidelines and for your protection as well as the protection of staff, we are requiring that residents wear masks whenever they are walking in the halls, collecting mail, removing trash or in any common areas.  Additionally, residents should wear their mask whenever they need to open their door to accept meals, medications, mail, deliveries, etc.

All the staff really need gloves and masks, and not homemade masks.

Per CDC guidelines, all staff are required to wear either medical or cloth masks while on campus.  All direct service staff are required to wear both masks and gloves when providing care.   The CDC recently issued guidance that supports the use of cloth masks and that they should be laundered/sanitized daily.  

Can we sit in the hallways while our apartment is being cleaned?

We have temporarily suspending all housekeeping services to apartments, villas, and Gaelsong apartments.  We will evaluate these services going forward.  

Is it safe to be eating the food from our kitchen that is being delivered to us? Is it safe to be accepting the newspaper or packages delivered to our door?

Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.  It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.   In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.” Although we take great care in protecting people making the delivery to your apartment, once the contents are received it is incumbent upon all to refer to the basic precautions above.  You may wish to consider wiping packages with a disinfectant wipe and then practicing good hand hygiene.   Although we do not know how long the virus remains active on surfaces, we know it cannot get into our body by just contact.  Great care is taken by our staff while preparing all meals for delivery. 

I am scheduled to have therapy. Is it safe for me to have the therapy provider coming into my residence?

It is safe.  Highlands’ therapy providers are screened prior to entering the campus.  If you are receiving therapy, home care, or home health services from a provider other than The Highlands, please ensure that they are being screened at our front door prior to entering your residence.  This is critical, and it applies to villas as well.  We require all direct care workers to where masks and gloves. 

If mail delivery will not be provided to residents in the apartments, can residents please be limited to one resident at a time in the mail room?

Currently residents are restricted to 4 people in the mail room at one time.

I have been in my apartment without visitors for more than 14 days. If I am not quarantine, can I visit other residents in their apartment?

The health and wellbeing of everyone on the campus remains our number one priority.  As such we ask that all residents (apartments and villas) refrain from visiting other residents, avoid contact with others, wear your mask when not in your residence, wash your hands often, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 

Dining on Campus FAQs

Since I get 20 meals a month, can I refuse a meal when I choose? 

Yes.  

Do I need to notify someone if no meal is wanted that day?

You will be called for your meal choice and can notify Dining Services at that time that you do not want a meal.

What should I do with my food cartons that are being delivered?

Please dispose of these cartons in the trash and not the recycling.  Signs are posted.

Is it possible to include fruit as a dessert instead of the calorie loaded pies, cakes, etc.

Based on experience in the dining rooms, residents prefer pies and cakes as dessert.  Fruit is now being provided 4 times a week in the meal delivery.  Residents may purchase fruit through the Bistro Market delivery service. Additionally, fruit is included as part of the Breakfast Meal delivery service.

Can we order our evening meal choice online?

Breakfast (7 days a week)

Pre-ordering required. Cost: $5.00 billed to resident account.
Orders will be delivered between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m.
Telephone calls to 484-220-8316 will be accepted between the hours of 7:00 and 9:00 a.m.  Voice mail messages will not be accepted.  Emails to [email protected] need to be submitted no later than 9:00 a.m.  Please include the following information in your email: Name & Residence Number

Lunch (Monday-Saturday)

Pre-ordering required. Cost: $8.00 billed to resident account.
Orders will be delivered between 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. 
Telephone calls to 484-220-8316 will be accepted between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.  Voice mail messages will not be accepted. 
Emails to [email protected] need to be submitted no later than 12:00 p.m.  Please include the following information in your email: Name & Residence Number, Choice of meal selection and iced tea, lemonade, water or juice

Main Meal at Noon (Sunday)

Pre-ordering is required. Cost: one meal credit per resident; those who do not have remaining meal credits will be charged $17.00 on their monthly bill.
Orders will be delivered between 12:00-2:00 p.m.
Emails to [email protected] need to be submitted no later than 10:00 a.m.  Please include the following information in your email:  Name & Residence Number, Choice of meal selection and iced tea, lemonade, water or juice.

For residents who have not submitted their order by email, Staff will call residents for order selection between 10:00 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. Voice mail messages will not be accepted. 

Dinner (Monday-Saturday)

Pre-ordering required. Cost: one meal credit per resident; those who do not have remaining meal credits, will be charged $17.00 on their monthly bill.
Orders will be delivered between 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. 
Emails to [email protected] need to be submitted no later than 1:00 p.m.  Please include the following information in your email: Name & Residence Number, Choice of meal selection and iced tea, lemonade, water or juice

For residents who have not submitted their order by email, Staff will call residents for order selection between 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Voice mail messages will not be accepted. 

Evening Meal (Sunday)

Pre-ordering required. Cost: $8.00 billed to resident account.
Orders will be delivered between 4:00 -6:00 p.m. 
Telephone calls to 484-220-8316 will be accepted between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.  Voice mail messages will not be accepted. 
Emails to [email protected] need to be submitted no later than 11:00 a.m.  Please include the following information in your email: Name & Residence Number, Choice of meal selection and iced tea, lemonade, water or juice

No advance orders.  Please only order for one day at a time.  No special requests can be accommodated. Any questions about this information should be directed to: 484-220-8308

Can we place our Bistro Market Orders online?

Bistro Market (7 days a week)

Pre-ordering is required.
Orders will be delivered starting at 11:00 a.m.
Telephone calls to 484-220-8268. Voice mails will be accepted. 
Emails to [email protected] need to be submitted no later than 9:00 a.m.  Please include the following information in your email:

Name & Residence Number
Market orders selections from those items listed on Bistro Market order form.

No advance orders.  Please only order for one day at a time.  No special requests can be accommodated. 
The resident portal is unable to accommodate meal orders.

Can we order wine or beer from the Bistro Market?

Residents cannot order beer and wine from the Bistro Market.  

Going Off Campus FAQs

Can I go to a doctor’s appointment if I drive or my family takes me?

We would advise calling your physician’s office to see if you can postpone your appointment.  Many physicians’ offices are rescheduling appointments for a future date or conducting telehealth appointments.  If you must go to a physician’s office, please contact our Home Care Health Support office so they can assist with your arrangements.

General FAQs

Am I still able to use my key to access door #9 or must I return to the lobby area & be screened?

Based on the Governor’s directive to close non-essential businesses, the work to change out the exterior door locks is postponed.  You may use the exterior door key when returning from your walk and not need to be screened in the lobby.

When people walk or drive around campus, are they permitted to go out the back gate, turn right at the stop sign, and use the roadway behind Sheetz and get to the Skilled Nursing/Personal Care area so they can make a continuous loop around the building?

If you are doing this to run your car engine, we would prefer that you turn the engine on while parked and not drive.  If you are doing this to go for a drive, please do not as this may cause other people to be suspicious and concerned.  Many residents have been assisting us in ensuring compliance of all restrictions.

Can my family members drop off meals, groceries and medications?

Yes.  Please ask them to drop off the items at the main entrance.  Our staff will deliver them to you.

There isn’t anything left to do – what can we do with our time?

Read. Watch a movie. Telephone, email, or Facetime with family and friends.  Write letters.  Organize your residence.  Clean out a closet.  Exercise within your residence.  Word puzzles are available on the Mailroom Bulletin Board.  Check-out some online classes.  Tune into Channel 956 for daily Highlands programming!

In order to pay my monthly bill to The Highlands or to other organizations, I transfer money every month from various accounts to my checking account?  How would I handle this when the banks are closed?

Please call the customer service number for your bank to get instructions on how to initiate those transfers through a telephone call or through on-line banking.

Can the clusters of chairs in the hallways be spread apart 6 feet so residents can sit in the hallways?

No.  All common areas of The Highlands are restricted from use to enforce social distancing requirements issued by the state, CDC, and DOH.

When will virtual town hall meeting be held? Do I need to use a different meeting ID number for each virtual town hall?

At this time, we will be holding virtual town hall meetings every Tuesday and Friday at 2:30 p.m. Yes, there will be a new meeting ID for each virtual town hall meeting. Check the resident portal at www.thehighlandsportal.org.  We appreciate your participation so you can stay informed with accurate information regarding the pandemic and state of The Highlands.   You can also watch the meetings on TV Channel 956.

Do you have filters on the vents for the units in the main building? Is there any way that the Coronavirus can travel from unit to unit? Also, what is the total number of residents in the main building?

Yes we have HEPA filters on the vents in the main building.  To the best of our knowledge, no.  There are 270 residents in the main building (apartments).

Can we have pizza or take-out food delivered to our villa front door if they leave it on a table outside the door, with no human contact whatsoever? From last Tuesday’s virtual town hall: May villa residents use such services as Delivery Dudes?

Yes, provided that there is no contact/interaction with delivery personnel. Many organizations are going to “contactless” ordering and delivery. Please be safe.

Regarding Tuesday/Friday 2:30 p.m. town hall on Channel 956. How can I get a hard copy of both the written questions and the called-in queries (Zoom?)  The audio/video is much better but still not clear on 956

We are not providing hard copies of the questions and answers, but our website www.thehighlands.org is updated routinely with FAQs.

Will the contributions for PPE for staff qualify as a charitable contribution or tax purpose?

Yes.  The Highlands is a non-profit organization.

Was THAW successful in its application for CARES Act Funding?

We received good news that our application for relief through The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Loan Program was approved. The Payroll Protection Program (PPP), administered by the SBA. The total amount of the loan is $2.4 million.

In a community like ours, social connections are very important. We care about each other, and we have a certain joy in caring about each other. When someone dies, it is an undeniable public event. It cannot be kept confidential.

We agree the social connections are really important for residents and staff.  We all care for everyone in a very deep and meaningful way.  COVID-19 has made this sense of community even more transparent. 

We have not changed any procedures regarding publicly acknowledging residents who have passed.  Roses are still being placed in each location that the resident resided and the resident only Resident Portal www.thehighlandsportal.org is updated in the "In Memoriam" section if they were a residential living resident. 

The only caveat: it is the family's decision that allows us to make announcements.  

 

I enjoy walking around our campus. I usually go around the perimeter. That means a lot of walking on the grass, which feels very nice. But I wonder whether The Highlands is doing anything to mitigate the dangers of Lyme disease

Without heavy spraying of pesticide, which pose numerous health concerns of their own, we cannot assure a tick free zone.  If you enjoy walking in the grass or among the trees, we suggest wearing a hat, long sleeve shirt, and long pants to protect your arms and legs.  Then, before re-entering the building, examine your clothing and skin for any unwanted passengers such as ticks.  If spotted simple brush them off and kill them if possible.