The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response at Sharon Towers

We have set up this page as the main source of online information for our residents and their families as well as the community at large as we address concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) at Sharon Towers. We urge you to check this page regularly for updates as conditions change.

At Sharon Towers, the health and well-being of our residents, employees and visitors is our primary concern. Because of the type of care many of our residents receive, residents and employees are often in close proximity, making the potential spread of infectious disease a constant concern.

Anyone wishing to receive updates is encouraged to use the blue button on this page to sign up

Information Sources Guiding Our Response to COVID-19

Addressing communicable diseases is a fundamental part of our Emergency Response Plan (ERP). As new and specific threats emerge from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we use the foundation of our ERP to address the specific dangers and constantly evolve our tactics as new data become available.

We are also gathering specific information on the evolution of the outbreak from a variety of trusted public health sources. These include:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS)
  • North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS)

Current Status

Please see below for the latest information. Note that we have indicated the date the information was updated in each section.

How do you communicate with residents about processes and procedures during this time?

During this time, members of our leadership team are on campus on the weekends. Half are present on Saturday and half on Sunday. We have structured schedules to provide as much comfort and reassurance as possible to our residents and team during this period of uncertainty. Residents are notified in writing about procedures. Family members who wish to receive copies of correspondence to residents may contact Angela Rigsbee via email.

 

What is the process if a case of COVID-19, the illness resulting from the novel coronavirus, is diagnosed in a resident or staff member?

Any individual testing positive will be isolated in the appropriate setting (i.e., at home, in the hospital, etc.) Public health officials will be contacted as well as anyone determined to be in close contact with the person testing positive. Staff, residents and our Board of Directors will receive written notification.

 

Have you had any cases of COVID-19? (Updated 5/30/20)

Given that stay-at-home restrictions in North Carolina were going to be relaxed at some point, we began proactive work many weeks ago to separate staff who work in our licensed health care areas from that of the independent living areas. Prior to 5/22/20, we had experienced just a single positive case of COVID-19 (in independent living only), and for more than 40 days following that, all administered tests had been returned to us as COVID-19 negative.

On 5/22/20, we detected a case of COVID-19 in a team member who works in the licensed Health Care and Assisted Living areas and suspected other cases, so we began an aggressive initiative to test all of the residents and team members in this section of the campus as the test kits could be made available to us. This required procuring difficult-to-get kits and testing more than 200 staff and residents who work and live in these parts of the community.

We knew this was the best possible way to determine if there were also positive, but asymptomatic individuals. Not all who are infected show symptoms, and if they eventually do, it can be days after they have already been contagious. Knowing who tests positive is a powerful tool. That knowledge allows for isolating anyone testing positive to reduce exposure to those who did not test positive.

An understandable byproduct of more testing is an increased number of positive tests. Based on available data of both prevalence of COVID-19 in the population as well as the test-positivity rate for those who have been administered the tests, it’s likely that more tests mean more diagnosed cases. As these batches of test results were reported to us, we found this to be true. As of 5/30/20, we received all of the resident test results and team member results from what we are calling “round one testing”. Following completion of approximately 200 tests, round one results confirmed a total of five cases in team members and 14 cases in residents, most of whom have been asymptomatic. We share the results of testing on this page only after the family members of positive individuals have been contacted.

Our greater goal has become to repeat these tests in one week, then weekly after that for the near future; we feel the best way to identify and eliminate the virus from our licensed areas is to retest those residents and team members who tested negative in the previous round. We have been able to contract with an outside firm to conduct the first round of follow-up testing, which is scheduled for June 1st and 2nd. It is our greatest desire that increased testing may at some point be more widely available.

We continue to monitor residents and staff and will initiate testing sooner for anyone who develops symptoms earlier than the next scheduled round of testing.

 

What follow up information will you release about the status of any cases (i.e., recovered, hospitalized, deceased)?

Sharon Towers strives to be as transparent as possible. However, HIPAA and state privacy laws require that we maintain an individual’s medical privacy both during a person’s stay or term of employment and after a person passes away or is no longer employed by Sharon Towers. Accordingly, Sharon Towers does not release information regarding its residents and staff unless otherwise permitted under HIPAA and state privacy laws.

General Access (Updated 5/21/20)

Yesterday afternoon Governor Cooper announced a limited opening of Phase 2 in NC. Guidance for older adults remains the same as they are the most vulnerable population to this virus. It is important that residents continue to listen to prevailing advice about social distancing and non-essential trips to stores and appointments. In consultation with our Medical Director Dr. Caprio and in reviewing national guidelines, we are planning to lag two weeks behind the greater community in the gradual opening of our dining and vitality & well-being services. Two weeks is the approximate known incubation period for the virus and this will allow us to observe what is working and not working as the greater community opens up.

All of the above changes apply to independent living residents only. Our Healthcare and Assisted Living area restrictions will remain in place in compliance with state and federal regulations.

Residents must wear a covering over the face when outside of their residence. If you are walking outside, please carry the mask with you in the event you come near another person. If a resident does not have a mask, scarf, bandana or anything that would work for this, we ask that they call Vivian at extension 3801 to request a handmade mask.

  • Person-to-person transmission is by far the greatest risk of transmission.
  • Social distancing is critically important.

Medical appointments are now being rescheduled. Residents may leave campus for a medical appointment and do not have to quarantine when they return. Please wear a mask and follow the safety instructions of your provider. Sharon Towers can provide transportation.

We are asking all residents not to leave campus unless they have a medical appointment. We have put plans in place that prevent ANY resident from needing to leave our campus. We have gone to great lengths to bring services to the residents during this time. Each time a resident leaves and comes back they are putting everyone at risk. At this point, with COVID-19 in Charlotte, each of us should assume that everyone we come in contact with could be carrying the virus. We are asking all residents to keep doors to their residences closed during this time.

If you leave campus, other than for a medical appointment: You must quarantine for 14 days in your apartment. You may, however, leave your apartment to walk outside by yourself during this quarantine time. If you walk outside, you must carry a mask and must not interact with other residents or staff.

Visitation (Updated 5/14/20)

Visits from family or friends. You may not have family or friends visit on campus. They may drop off packages at the Main Entrance, Villa Entrance or on a cottage doorstep, but you may not visit together, even if maintaining social distance. Our visitor restrictions apply to the campus – not just to the buildings. Even these types of visits could potentially expose your loved one to COVID-19. Thank you for helping to keep all of our residents safe.

  • Independent Living residents still have use of their key fob. However, it is important that residents DO NOT LET ANYONE IN OUR BUILDINGS.

Visits to healthcare and assisted living. There are no visitors allowed except in the case of an end-of-life situation. We have also implemented a keypad code for entry. Only essential staff have been given access. If you would like to visit virtually with your loved one, please contact Jessica Bourque at 704-553-3812 or email her.

Visits for medical transportation. Sharon Towers can provide transportation to medical appointments. If you need a family member to take you to a medical appointment, they must be screened at our front entrance. They cannot enter our buildings. You must sit in the back seat of their car, and only two people can be in the car. Both you and they must wear a mask.

When you leave campus for a medical appointment, you do not have to ask for permission to go or quarantine when you return. Please wear a mask and follow the safety instructions of your provider. 

Social Distancing Tips

Acceptable

  • Family dropping packages at Main Entrance, on a cottage porch or in front of Villa.
  • Visiting with family on the phone or virtually
  • Picking up your mail.
  • Riding the elevator with social distance.
  • Walking outside with a friend at a six-foot distance.

Not Acceptable

  • Family dropping off packages and giving you a hug.
  • Visiting with family anywhere on campus. Including on a bench or porch.
  • Gathering in the mail alcove.
  • Crowding in an elevator.
  • Yard games, including corn hole and ladder ball.

Screening (Updated 5/30/20)

  • All essential staff and outside caregivers will be screened before entering the building, including temperature.
  • During high traffic times, Licensed Health Care and Assisted Living staff are entering the building through the employee entrance on the lower level where a special screening station opened on 5/23.
  • All remaining staff must continue to enter through the Main (East) Entrance.
  • Only essential outside vendor services will be allowed and will approved by COO. All loading dock deliveries are being left on the loading dock.

Construction (Updated 5/21/20)

Construction in our Health Care building, including in the Health Care units, the Bistro and Dining Room, was halted on March 12th until further notice. Construction in our vacant cottages, The Deerwood, and the Physical Plant will proceed as planned.

Independent Living Apartment Renovations

We have received guidance from the Department of Health Service Regulation that construction may occur on CCRC campuses with adherence to CDC guidance and screening protocols. We have met with Ross Allen and developed strict protocols for construction workers to resume the renovation of vacant apartments within the independent living areas of our campus.

All construction workers will be screened at the main entrance and must wear a mask at all times when inside common spaces of any building. The construction workers will enter the building at the entrance agreed upon by Facilities, which will vary based on the location of the apartment. All workers will use the stairwells to come and go from the apartments being renovated.

Workers will use the elevators only for the delivery of supplies. Staff will designate one elevator for use by the contractors, which will be locked from resident use while the workers are present. The elevator will be sanitized by housekeeping before it is unlocked for resident use.

Prior to the East Tower and West Tower apartments being renovated, all air returns will be disconnected and covered. Air scrubbers will be installed in the apartment with the ducting of air out of the facility to create a negative pressure situation. (This is not necessary in other areas of the building due to separate HVAC units for each apartment.) Whenever possible, temporary plastic walls (with a zipper) will be installed in resident hallways to separate the apartment being renovated from the common space and entry doors of other IL apartments.

Public restrooms located on floors of apartments being renovated will be locked as workers will use outside portable restrooms. At no time will construction workers enter the Health Care or Assisted Living units or interact with any residents.

We want to assure you that we continue to have the best interest of your health and safety in mind as we take these added precautions with renovations.

You may have noticed a wooden construction stairway built to enter the 2nd floor of the East Wing. This is to allow construction to occur safely inside of an apartment with no resident interaction.

Phase I Construction Update and Ring Road Closures

Beginning Tuesday, May 26th through early October, traffic from the Main Entrance at our stop light to the Main Entrance of the East Tower will be redirected. When pulling on to campus and approaching the first stop sign, vehicles will only be allowed to turn right. To reach the Main Entrance of the East Tower vehicles will drive around the ring road, past the West Tower, around the Physical Plant and then on to the Main Entrance of the East Tower. Vehicles can also enter through the Service Entrance to reach the Main Entrance of the East Tower.

This arrangement will be modified even further for a period of four weeks (June 10th to July 10th) when access is restricted around the Physical Plant. We will provide greater detail and a map for directions closer to this time.

Dining (Updated 5/21/20)

If all goes well, we anticipate offering dining reservations with alternate seating times for independent living only beginning Monday, June 8th. Until then, meals will be delivered to residents as the public dining rooms remain closed. The coffee/beverage station has been removed and residents may order beverages to be delivered with their meals.

Allison’s To Go (Updated 5/8/20)

We know many miss coming to Allison’s for fine dining. Residents and staff can now order meal kits from Allison’s fine dining menu. Our chefs will cook meals to the appropriate temperature, then package each one using a Cryovacking technique that allows for the rest of the cooking process to be finished at home. Three entrée options are available (8 oz Salmon Filet, 8 oz Filet Mignon, and 6 oz Lamb Chops this week) with sides. Three entrée salad choices were added the first week of May. Residents may pair meals with wine upon request.

Grocery Shopping Requests/Orders

We are using Sharon Towers’ vendors for most resident needs.

Residents have a list of over 50 items that Sharon Towers can order for them. Residents may use the automated ordering link, complete the form and leave it outside of their residence or email it. Completed forms will be picked up daily during meal delivery times. Requested items will be delivered by our staff as orders are filled.

If a resident needs essential groceries or medications to be picked up, please contact Jessie Velasquez at 704-553-3712 or email her.

Meal Delivery

  • Independent living. Meal delivery will be left at each resident’s door. Staff will ring the doorbell one time and leave the bag outside the door.
    • Breakfast will be delivered between 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
    • Lunch will be delivered between 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    • Dinner will be delivered between 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
  • Healthcare and Assisted Living Residents
    • Meals will occur on a normal schedule.

Errands

We will continue to pick up prescriptions and run essential and banking errands at this time. The Vitality & Well-being team will continue to shop for items not available through Sharon Towers on Tuesdays and Fridays. However, we ask that residents truly consider if the items are necessary. We cannot honor specific requests to shop at certain stores or for certain brands.

Fitness Center and Aquatics Center

Are closed to individual use until further notice.

Group Activities and Events (Updated 5/21/20)

If all goes well, for independent living only, we anticipate offering vitality programs of 10 or less (with the exception of exercise classes), beginning Monday, June 8th.

Until then, group activities remain cancelled. We ask residents to practice social distancing even though they are on campus. This is very important. We ask that they please keep traffic through the buildings to a minimum and not congregate in common spaces. Residents may enjoy use of the four outdoor benches at the east entrance. These benches are adequately spaced for socially distanced visits with other residents.

We strongly recommend the following:

  • Residents should not gather together on their own for meals, parties or social time.
  • Residents should not play card games with others. Sharing cards can spread the virus.

Housekeeping Services (Updated 5/8/20)

  • Independent living
    • Beginning next week, housekeeping services will resume on a bi-weekly basis. The same pair of housekeepers will clean your residence bi-weekly. When they arrive please wear your mask and wait in another room of the residence or in a common area nearby while they work. The Housekeeping Department will be in touch with you regarding your cleaning day and time.
  • Healthcare and Assisted Living Residents
    • Housekeeping will occur on a normal schedule.

Maintenance

Only emergency maintenance requests will be completed. These will be prioritized.

Masks & Sewing Machines

At some point we may exhaust our disposable mask supplies and are asking for assistance with handmade masks. Residents are asked to please contact Jessica Bourque at 704-553-3812 if they would like to make masks for Sharon Towers or if they have a sewing machine they would like to lend. The mask we prefer can be seen in this video.

Miscellaneous Information

Beauty Salon/Barber Services (Updated 5/21/20)

If all goes well, for independent living only, we anticipate offering beauty salon/barber services (one resident at a time), etc. beginning Monday, June 8th.

Car Owners

Any resident who has not started their vehicle in several days or weeks and would like our Facilities team to do this for them should call Christine at extension 3805.

COVID-19 Support Group (Updated 5/14/20)

We invite you to be a part of a virtual COVID-19 support group where you can join with like-minded people to share your experience and receive help, hope and encouragement. This group is open to residents who would be comfortable sharing their personal experiences and who are willing to understand the viewpoints of others.

The group will be led by Mark Livak, a second-year student in the Masters of Christian Counseling program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte. Mark is currently a Behavioral Health Intern at Elizabeth Family Medicine. Mark is conducting this group in an effort to support behavioral health needs of the residents of Sharon Towers and as a part of his training.

If you are interesting in participating in this support group, then please email Mark Livak for further details.

Participants should have a phone, tablet or computer with video and audio capability, and be willing to meet over a secure internet platform. We will meet once a week for four weeks. Meetings will be 90 minutes long on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m.

Main Entrance Road

Please do not use the main entrance as a way to walk onto our campus as it is too dangerous. Instead, please use the new sidewalk that leads from Sharon Road to the north side of the parking deck. This takes you to the east side of the South Terrace, very close to our main entrance.

Monthly Statements (Updated 5/21/20)

All questions related to residents’ monthly bill should be addressed to Rachel Burr at extension 3226 or email her.

Plants in Common Areas (Updated 5/14/20)

We have several indoor plants located throughout the first floor of the main building that are being overwatered. We appreciate all of our helpers but have set up a schedule to water these properly. Please do not water the common area plants.

Resident Chat with CEO (Updated 5/21/20)

On Wednesday, May 27th at 2:00 p.m. on Channel 1394, Anne Moffat will update residents on the impact of COVID-19 to our overall operations. We are sure residents will have follow-up questions which can be asked by the three Board of Directors representatives who will attend follow-up chats with Anne scheduled every two weeks moving forward.

Sentinel Publication (Updated 5/21/20)

The June Sentinel will be a few days late as we begin to implement small group programming into a weekly format as we ease into Phase 2.

South Wing Elevator (Updated 5/8/20)

The South Wing elevator is temporarily out of service. Unfortunately, the hydraulic valve needed to lift and lower the elevator needs to be rebuilt or modified. This is expected to take several weeks. We apologize for the inconvenience this creates for many of you.

Scams

Unfortunately, during times like this, scams are rampant. We ask that residents be overly cautious with phone calls requesting any personal information or bank information. Residents should never have a legitimate request from the IRS, Medicare or any other agency over the phone. All communication from legitimate organizations will come in the mail.

Staff Dress Code

We have relaxed the staff dress code at this time. This will allow our staff to wear more washable clothing during this time.

Packages and Mail

There is research about how long the virus “lives” on a surface, but we do not really know how that relates to infections. In other words, just because virus cells may exist on a surface many hours or days, it is not proven that these cells are still capable of infecting people. Yes, we are worried about transmission from touching surfaces, but the bigger concern is being in close proximity with someone who is COVID-19 positive (for example, household contacts).

Many package delivery carriers and postal service workers are being cautious. You will see a lot of gloves when they are touching packages. If you are concerned about mail or packages, we suggest that you leave mail for a day or two before opening or leave a package unopened until tomorrow if you don’t absolutely need the item today. Again, we are much more worried about person-to person transmission than about exposure from packages.

Pet Services

Pet Supply Plus is available to deliver dog or cat food for residents’ pets at this time. Residents should email Justin Young with their order and contact phone number for payment information. Residents can also place an online order at www.petsuppliesplus.com, noting “Sharon Towers” in the Notes section.

Physician Visits/Outpatient Services (Updated 5/21/20)

Medical appointments are now being rescheduled. Residents should contact their doctor’s office to discuss. When you leave campus for a medical appointment, you do not have to ask for permission to go or quarantine when you return. Please wear a mask and follow the safety instructions of your provider.

Both systems have bolstered their virtual visit and e-visit capabilities. Residents should use these services whenever possible. Here are links:

Medical Transportation

As medical providers in the community begin to resume appointments, our medical transportation requests are quickly increasing. Please contact Michael Jordan at ext. 3702 to check transportation availability as we are only able to transport one resident at a time and allow for cleaning of the vehicle in between. Please remember to wear your mask.

Physician’s Clinic and Wellness Clinic

As we continue to monitor the COVID-19 Pandemic and its impact on our community, we are working diligently to ensure the safety of all residents and staff.

  • Patients of Dr. Caprio. At this time, clinic nursing staff are triaging patients who are already scheduled for upcoming clinic appointments or who are having acute symptoms that may require provider evaluation. Dr. Caprio and Kristen are offering a brief phone visit in place of an in-office visit. This visit will be submitted to the resident’s insurance company as though the resident were seen face-to-face in the clinic. Appointments may also be rescheduled to a later date if the resident is healthy and has no medical concerns.
  • Podiatry and Dermatology Services. Our Wellness Clinic team is working on a plan to resume dermatology and podiatry services. If a resident would like to be seen, they should call the Wellness Clinic at extension 3227.
  • Wellness Clinic. Unless a resident is having a true medical emergency, we urge them to call the Wellness Clinic at extension 3227 with any health concerns. We do not want them to visit the Emergency Department or Urgent Care without guidance from a nurse.
  • Testing. In an ideal world, it would be wonderful to test everyone. However, the availability of tests is limited. Therefore, medical staff is unable to test residents unless they have symptoms and are unable to self- isolate. That is why it is important for residents to contact our wellness clinic so they may receive guidance from their physician – before they leave their apartment.

Shuttle Service

Due to lack of group programming and meal service, the on-campus shuttle service for resident transportation has been suspended at this time. Moving forward, the shuttle will be used exclusively for meal, grocery and package delivery. Shuttle service will resume when restrictions are lifted.

Therapy Services

Each day at Sharon Towers we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation. Non-essential therapy appointments have been put on hold.

Vitality & Well-Being

  • Download the latest “News From Vitality & Well-Being” here.
  • Our staff is emailing with fun activity ideas- free operas online, virtual museum tours, printable crosswords, etc.
  • Here are some proactive measures we recommend to residents:
    • Call other residents, family and friends on the phone.
    • Read.
    • FaceTime and video chat.
    • Use Facebook.
    • Walk outside. If residents walk with a friend, remember to keep a safe social distance and to wear a mask.
    • Take a virtual tour of a museum! Here in Charlotte, the Mint Museum and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, among others, are offering virtual tours. Or try the Metropolitan Museum of Art or even the Louvre!
  • All Independent Living residents were assigned a staff member contact on 3/16. This person is calling residents regarding meal choices, to inquire about their health and offer any other support needed.
  • Activities will occur on a normal schedule for Healthcare and Assisted Living Residents.

For More Information

Please share this information with your friends and family. This web page is a key source of information and you may sign up to receive information as new updates are posted using the blue “SIGN UP FOR UPDATES” button. Please encourage your friends and family to visit our website for up-to-date information.

We all have a responsibility to support and protect each other. Please feel free to contact Angela Rigsbee with any questions or concerns at 704-553-1670 or via email.

Everyone can prepare for COVID-19 as they do for many of the easily transmissible diseases and viruses we prepare for every day in our communities–by practicing everyday preventive actions now:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using regular household detergent and water.

These preparations will protect not only you, but also the other members of this community. We all have a responsibility to support and protect each other.

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