Update from Dan Fagin on CJE's Response to COVID-19 Pandemic—November 25, 2020

November 25, 2020

Dear CJE Clients, Residents, Family Members, and Caregivers:

We continue to monitor our COVID-19 situation and are following the recommended guidelines by the State of Illinois, Cook County Health Department, Lake County Health Department, IDPH, IDOA, the CDC and other health regulatory authorities.

Since CJE has so many different programs throughout metropolitan Chicago, we need to be on top of the regulations that impact seniors in a wide variety of settings, whether they are living in their own home in the community or in one of CJE’s buildings, including Weinberg Community for Assisted Living in Deerfield or Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Skokie. We continue to have leadership meetings with all our Jewish Federation partners and will let you know when our situation changes.

In the meantime, here is an update on what is happening at CJE as of November 23, 2020:

Bernard Horwich Building

In mid-October, the JCC at BHB welcomed back Fitness Club members. They are currently sending this news via email to their members. However, the JCC is not open to walk-ins and there will be strict policies in place. Most importantly, the Main Entrance will remain locked except for scheduled appointments.
 
CJE Employees will continue to use the north side of the Main Entrance to accommodate staff who want to come into the building between 8-9 am and 12:30-1:00 pm during the week. Our temperature and screening protocols will remain the same.
 
JCC employees will monitor the south side of the Main Entrance to screen and take Fitness Members’ temperatures of those who have made a specific reservation for a workout time.
 
Their members will have reserved a time period for their workouts to avoid overcrowding of the building.  Like CJE, the JCC will require that all staff and Fitness Members use masks, practice social distancing and be vigilant about building and personal sanitizing.  They do have very specific rules on pool usage, number of people allowed in each class, etc., which has been included in their communications to Fitness Members.
 
As the weather changes, we may also see the Early Childhood Program participants enter the building through the south side of the Main Entrance. The JCC is formulating plans on how to handle this program as safely as possible for staff, children, parents, as well as CJE staff.  We will also share this information when it becomes available but please remember that everything is always subject to change.
 
In the meantime, we do not have immediate plans to open our building to CJE clients.  CJE Staff are always welcome to work at the building during regular hours. Employees are screened and temperatures taken.

  • Although people may see activity around the Horwich JCC Building, CJE continues to be closed to clients, future clients, community members and volunteers until further notice, in accordance with several local, state, and federal guidelines.  In an abundance of caution, and because we serve an especially vulnerable population, we will evaluate the situation daily to determine the best date and procedures for opening our doors for in-person visits. At the appropriate time, CJE will implement a phased re-opening for clients, most likely by appointment only to limit the number of people in our waiting room.
  • Anyone entering the Horwich building for any reason will be asked general questions about their health situation, have their temperatures taken and masks will be required. More details will be posted as the situation evolves.
  • In the meantime, clients and/or future clients can contact our main number 773.508.1000 to have telephonic consultations for consumer assistance, counseling or care management. Documents and letters can be placed into the mailbox on the outside of the JCC/Horwich Building.  
  • Most administrative employees are still working remotely. Some employees have been re-assigned to help in buildings that need assistance. Employees are still prohibited from traveling to CJE’s different buildings to lessen the potential of virus spread.

Throughout CJE, we are also enforcing strict quarantine measure for our staff who have either traveled out of the country and/or to COVID hot spots in the United States. Medical providers such as physicians, nurse practitioners, and hospice professionals are required to COVID test weekly to enter the building.  CJE staff are not allowed to go from building to building unless they have been tested as well. As cases have risen in Cook County and the rest of Illinois, we continue to enact protocols to keep everyone safe.

 

Lieberman Center and Weinberg Community

IDPH has issued new guidance for nursing homes (but not Assisted Living) regarding testing and we are following all requirements. We are on a regular schedule to test residents and staff at both buildings.

 

At Weinberg

Although Weinberg had been COVID-free for four months, we saw some cases among staff and residents the first week of November, in alignment with the rise in cases throughout northern Illinois. The State of Illinois has placed our geographic location in Tier 3, which means that we are back to more strict regulations relating to group dining, outside visits and trips, group activities, and beauty services.  We started the process of testing all residents and staff again.

In November, we had up to 40 residents of Friend Center test positive.  Several residents required hospitalization.  We knew from the beginning that any cases at the Friend Center might result in a rapid spread as our ability to quarantine these residents is very difficult.  We are doing everything we can to minimize additional spread.  We’ve also taken steps to isolate residents at Friend Center, but it continues to be challenging to keep them in their apartments.

We have also had several cases at Gidwitz.  Most of the residents are doing well, though we are saddened to announce that we have lost some residents on both sides of the building due to the virulent nature of this virus.  While we have been testing with regularity, we will be testing every 3-7 days at a minimum until the outbreak in our area has declined.  Thankfully, we have noticed some decrease in the spread.

I know this is upsetting news to all of us. We have reached out to the Cook County Department of Health, which has told us we’re doing all the right things: We have shut down any small group activities, closed the dining rooms, suspended all family visits, increased the frequency of testing, and will be asking Gidwitz residents to remain quarantined in their apartments. We will also ask that residents stay in the building for the holidays to prevent exposure by well-intentioned family members.  We will plan new ways to enjoy the holidays while remaining physically apart from loved ones.

We continue to provide PPE without any limitations to our staff, which has been the case from the beginning. They have adequate supplies of N95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.

All residents and staff are screened for symptoms daily.

  1. Any COVID cases are reported to the community within 12 hours.
  2. Additional handwashing, sanitation of common areas being done routinely.
  3. PPE is being used and distributed as needed.
  4. Any resident with signs or symptoms of COVID-related illness will be isolated.

 

 

At Lieberman

Regretfully, we have also seen cases rise at Lieberman Center which is in Tier 3 as well.  This means that we will be suspending dining room services, closing the barber/beauty shop, and limiting activities to groups of 1-4 residents. Residents with coronavirus are kept on separate wings of the building.

Due to early mitigation measures taken by the State of Illinois, indoor visitations had already been suspended.

The health and safety of our residents and staff is our priority. Weekly testing of employees has been ongoing and we have resumed weekly testing our residents.

 

 

Community-Based Services

Adult Day Services in Evanston has moved to its new temporary headquarters at Village Center, 5120 Galitz in Skokie. It re-opened for a few days in November, but is now closed until further notice due to IDOA Guidelines.

In the meantime, the Evanston location is being renovated. This exciting project will modernize and incorporate the Evanston ADS program into a new affordable housing apartment building complex that will break ground by the end of the year.  ADS Deerfield (at Friend Center) remains closed.  

More home-delivered meals than ever are being brought to frail or homebound individuals. Volunteers who deliver meals have been given new protocols that practice social distancing and prevent them from entering any homes. Masks and gowns are provided to them. In addition, an increasing number of our regular volunteers have been calling hundreds of homebound clients, providing friendly “wellness checks,” which is just one way for seniors in our community to feel less isolated during this time.
All staff at Lieberman Center, Weinberg Community and designated community-based services, have been provided with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) throughout the pandemic, without limitations. Those employees working with confirmed or suspected cases are given high levels of PPE, such as N95 masks, shields, etc.

We continue to be very innovative in re-imagining many of our programs so we can provide clients and residents with telehealth counseling and streaming life enrichment classes.  Checkout some of our Cyber Club classes which are also available to community members—https://www.cje.net/cyberclub .

Now for some more positive news:  Our new independent living community in Deerfield, Tamarisk NorthShore, is open and residents have been moving into their apartment homes. The first floor living room, with a gorgeous fireplace where people will mingle, is furnished and is a sight to behold.  You can make an appointment for an individual or digital tour now by calling Paisley Valentincic at 847.597.5772.  Check out the Tamarisk website for a virtual tour, tamarisknorthshore.com, to learn more and to read about its specific precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Finally, there are no words to describe the generosity of our community. We have had an amazing outpouring of support for our staff who are on our frontlines, risking their own health to take care of residents and clients.  Read more (https://www.cje.net/inspiringstories ) about the incredible acts of kindness we’ve received by so many individuals and organizations that feel deeply about CJE’s mission to serve some of the most vulnerable—and often forgotten—people in our community.

We are thankful for your patience, trust and support during this difficult time. Hopefully, things are starting to look brighter after the holidays which will be challenging for everyone, but I will continue to stay in touch via our website, eblasts or phone calls to let you know of any significant changes or developments.

 

Stay safe and be well,

 

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Dan Fagin
President & CEO, CJE SeniorLife