The response to Coronavirus at Sharon Towers

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response at Sharon Towers

Home » About Us » The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response at Sharon Towers

We have set up this page as a 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? (Updated 6/29/20)
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 7/30/20)
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. We share the results of testing on this page only after the family members of positive individuals have been contacted.

On 5/30/20, we received all of the resident test results and team member results from a first round of 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 were asymptomatic.

Our greater goal became to repeat these tests in one week, then weekly after that for the near future, as 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 were able to contract with an outside firm to conduct follow-up testing on 6/1/20 and 6/2/20. The second round of testing indicated no new positive cases.

We completed a third round of testing on 6/8/20 and 6/9/20. The third round of testing indicated no new positive cases.

We completed a fourth round of testing on 6/15, 6/16 and 6/17. This fourth round of testing detected no new positive cases in residents and one new positive case in a staff member who works in our licensed health care and assisted living areas.

We completed a fifth round of testing on 6/21, 6/22 and 6/23. This fifth round of testing detected no new positive cases in residents and no additional positive test results in staff members.

As testing increases, lab results are taking much longer to be returned to us, up to 10 days. As a result of this lag time, for Healthcare and Assisted Living residents and staff, we conducted two cycles of tests (round 6 and round 7) during the month of July, resulting in detection in this licensed area, of one positive case in a resident and three positive cases in staff members during the entire month.

We continue to monitor residents and staff and will initiate testing for anyone who develops symptoms.

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 6/29/20)

Governor Cooper has announced that North Carolina remains in Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions. We are slowly opening some of our amenities for Independent Living residents only as outlined below. 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 being scheduled. 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.

Residents who venture out into the greater community for outside salon appointments, grocery trips, restaurant visits, etc. will not be allowed to participate in the opening of dining and vitality & well-being programs and will still be asked to quarantine from common spaces in our buildings for 14 days. Two weeks is the approximate known incubation period for the virus. You may, however, leave your residence 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.

We are still highly encouraging residents to stay on campus unless they have a medical appointment and utilize the services offered by Sharon Towers. 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 ask that all residents keep doors to their residences closed.

Visitation (Updated 6/19/20)

Visits to independent living residents only, from family and friends. Visitors are not allowed in our buildings. Independent Living residents may visit outside with their family members or friends. Everyone must practice social distancing of at least six feet, limit groups to six or fewer and wear a mask. There cannot be any physical contact during these visits. You may meet outdoors on campus any place you choose, or on the patio of your cottage. We also created a covered visiting area in the South Terrace Parking deck. Residents and visitors should be sure to read the signage and follow the guidelines posted.

  • 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 (Updated 6/6/20)

Acceptable

  • Family dropping packages at Main Entrance, on a cottage porch or in front of Villa.
  • Visiting with family on the phone or virtually
  • Visiting with family outdoors on campus, including on a bench or porch. There cannot be any physical contact during these visits.
  • 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.
  • Gathering in the mail alcove.
  • Crowding in an elevator.
  • Yard games, including corn hole and ladder ball.

Screening (Updated 6/19/20)

  • Families and friends visiting independent living residents outdoors on campus do not need to be screened at the Main (East) Entrance. However, they may not enter any buildings and should not visit if they have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around groups of people.
  • All essential staff and outside caregivers will be screened before entering the building, including temperature.
  • All 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 7/30/20)

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 everyone that we continue to have the best interest of their health and safety in mind as we take these added precautions with renovations.

Phase I Construction Update and Ring Road Closures (7/30/20)

Between July 6 and August 14, family and visitors should be aware of ring road closures when visiting or dropping off packages.

Please use the main entrance (traffic light) if you wish to go to the North Terrace, West Tower, Villas or cottages. Please use the service entrance if you wish to go to the front entrance, East Tower, or South Terrace.

The north face of the healthcare building will be removed beginning the week of August 10. Construction in the former Bistro and Dining areas has resumed from the exterior side of the main building only. This area has been sealed off and can only be accessed by construction crews on the exterior.

The restroom across from the mail alcove has been closed and will remain so until the completion of the construction project. The restrooms down the South Wing outside of Hunter Hall remain open.

On Tuesday, August 4 the front circle at the Main Entrance will be closed to allow a crane in this area. The crane will be unloading needed materials for the elevator remodel on the roof. The circle will be closed for approximately 6 hours that day.

The large tree and container in the middle of Harkey Terrace will be removed sometime in August. We consulted with an expert to try to save this tree, however it has a fungus and gloomy scale. The area will be repainted once the tree is removed.

Dining Services (Updated 7/30/20)

Meals will be delivered to residents while the public dining rooms remain closed. The coffee/beverage station has been removed and residents may order beverages to be delivered with their meals. There is no charge for a cup of coffee, however there is a charge for bottled tea or canned beverages.

Charlotte Mecklenburg has advised us that all dining take-out containers (regardless of the number on the bottom of the container) are trash. Please do not place any food containers in the recycle bins.

During the last week of July, the dining menu was updated to include more selections and a la carte items.

Dining in Hunter Hall (Updated 7/1/20)

Due to low response to reservation requests and NC remaining in Phase II, we have decided to postpone the opening of Hunter Hall.

Allison’s To Go (Updated 6/6/20)

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. Numerous entrée options with sides are available, such as Salmon, Filet Mignon, and Lamb Chops. Three entrée salad choices and appetizers are also available. 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.
  • Health Care 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 (Updated 7/30/20)

The Fitness Center is closed to individual use until further notice.

The pool is open to visits of a maximum of two residents at a time, by scheduled appointment only. Emergency pendants must be worn when in the pool and pool area. As the locker rooms are closed for infection control purposes, please come ready to swim. Residents should register on Lifeloop or call extension 7117 to schedule a swim time.

Group Activities and Events (Updated 6/6/20)

With the exception of vitality & wellness programs for independent living residents described in the vitality & wellness section further below, 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 6/6/20)

  • Independent living
    • Housekeeping services resumed on a bi-weekly basis in May. The same pair of housekeepers will clean the residences bi-weekly. When they arrive we ask residents to wear a 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 residents regarding your cleaning day and time.
  • Health Care 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

Absentee Ballots (Updated 7/30/20)

The Board of Elections is expecting record high absentee voting in this year’s election. They are urging people to get their ballots requested and submitted as early as possible due to potential postal delays from this surge.

Sharon Towers staff is not permitted to help you fill out ballots or requests for ballots. This must be done by you, a family member or legal guardian. If you need assistance from the Board of Elections, please contact Jessica at extension 3812 and she will facilitate the contact for you.

The link below will allow you to print your absentee request form. Printed paper forms are also hanging on the bulletin board outside of the Resident Resource Center near Hunter Hall.

Link to the Absentee Ballot Request Form

Beauty Salon/Barber Services (Updated 7/30/20)

We have selected the firm PS Salon & Spa to operate Beauty Salon Services. Beginning Thursday, July 30, the salon is open on a part-time basis until all staff are hired. The salon can accommodate men and women’s hair as well as manicure and pedicure services. Payment for salon services will be though credit card only, so these authorization forms must be completed prior to a resident’s first appointment. Residents planning to use PS Salons may pick up a credit card authorization form at the front desk.

Please also note, the stylists operate as a contractor to Sharon Towers and are not employees, therefore tipping is allowed.

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.

Charlotte Water (Updated 6/19/20)

During Anne Moffat’s CHAT last week she went into great detail about our commitment to Charlotte Water to educate residents on what is and is not appropriate to put down pipes and drains. A resident suggested a helpful hint for wipes which was to place them in a Ziploc bag after use and discard. We appreciate the residents’ hard work on this initiative.

East Elevators (Updated 7/30/20)

The East Elevators are being remodeled. During the process, one cab will be worked on at a time. It will take approximately 6 weeks to modernize each cab. When completed, the elevators will be faster and less likely to go out of service. Parts for this project will be stored on 6th floor East during this time. There will still be space for emergency egress.

Lemon Tree (Updated 7/30/20)

The Lemon Tree is under new management and open as of Monday, August 3. The shop will be open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. You must be wearing a mask prior to and upon entering the store, and only one customer at a time is permitted in the shop.

Library (Updated 7/30/20)

The Library Committee has implemented a new procedure for residents who borrow books. There is a new sign-out clipboard for residents on the library desk. Residents should sign out each book they borrow and check the book back in when it is returned.

Main Entrance Road (Updated 6/19/20)

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.

Pool tables (Updated 7/30/20)

The two pool tables in the West Lobby will be relocated on August 5 by a professional vendor. The tables will now be located in the lobby of the 6th Floor West Tower.

Resident Chat with CEO (Updated 7/30/20)

Check Sharon Towers’ channel 1394 for the date and time of CEO Anne Moffat’s next CHAT.

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 6/6/20)

Medical appointments are being scheduled. 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 resumed appointments, our medical transportation requests increased. 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 (Updated 6/22/20)

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

  • Patients of Dr. Caprio. Clinic nursing staff are scheduling clinic appointments for those having acute symptoms. Dr. Caprio and Kristen are also 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.
  • Dermatologist. The dermatologist will be onsite on Wednesday, June 24th. Residents should call the Wellness Clinic at extension 3227 for an appointment.
  • 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 (Updated 6/22/20)

The Vitality Team will began a gradual resumption of group activities (no fitness programs) for independent living residents only on June 8th. We must continue to follow strict guidelines for this re-opening to be a success:

  • Residents will be screened before entering.
  • Staff will thoroughly clean tables and chairs before and after each group.
  • Groups will be limited to 30 minutes.
  • Groups will be limited to eight (8) people in Harris Towne Center and four (4) people in the Chapel.
  • Residents must maintain social distance and wear a mask.

To attend groups, residents must pre-register on LifeLoop. Tech Support will be offered Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. to assist with LifeLoop registration. Residents may also call Jessie at 3712 or Carmen at 3718 if access to that technology is not available. We expect that groups will fill up fast. So, mastering LifeLoop will be to all residents’ advantage.

Some groups will have both an in-person and a virtual option. We will continue to have the current programming on STTV – Channel 1394. We have also increased our virtual options with a new Live Bingo Game on the TV and a Saturday Night Zoom Happy Hour. A new calendar will be sent to residents each week as we make updates and changes.

  • Download a copy of the weekly schedule here.
  • 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.
  • HC/AL – We are providing 1:1 visits for family virtual calls, socialization and to provide any needed leisure materials.  No groups are allowed at this time.

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.