ArchCare is prepared for a second wave of Covid-19 or any other virus that may threaten the health of people it serves or its care team staff, said Scott LaRue, the president and CEO of the archdiocesan health care system.
ArchCare cares for more than 9,000 seniors, the poor and persons with special needs at locations throughout the archdiocese.
“Our mission is to care for the frail and vulnerable of the Archdiocese of New York,” LaRue told CNY in an interview last week. “That means making the investments and commitment to setting an example and a standard for the community in terms of how we care for people.
“I believe we’ve done that. This has been a devastating pandemic, not just clinically but also financially. We made the resources available to ensure that we were positioned as best we could to manage this pandemic.”
ArchCare has invested more than $2 million in its Program to Eliminate Contagion (PROTECT) to prepare for a second wave of Covid-19 and outbreaks of other diseases.
PROTECT features the use of ultraviolet filters in main vents to disinfect the air; thermal scan cameras at entrances of every ArchCare facility; negative pressure rooms with high efficiency particulate air filters to isolate infected patients; bedside dialysis machines for use by patients at home; and a communication tool allowing participants to be connected remotely with their wellness centers for monitoring, medication, reminders and programs.
LaRue added ArchCare’s programs have 60 days worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and an additional 90-day supply of PPE is stored in a rented New Jersey warehouse.
“We literally spent several million dollars in the midst of this pandemic preparing for a second wave, or to be positioned to care for the people we serve in case of a new virus in the future,” he said.
“We want to be sure that we are a market leader in infection control and prevention so that we can assure the safety of the people we serve and our care members.”
LaRue believes a second wave of the pandemic may arrive in the archdiocese in the coming weeks. New York City’s positivity rate for Covid-19 has gone from below one percent to close to three percent as of Nov. 13. California and Texas each recently surpassed 1 million Covid-19 cases just days after the United States topped 10 million cases Nov. 9.
“The rest of the country is completely out of control as it relates to the spread of the virus. So no matter how good New York state is in its practices, that’s eventually going to leak into the State of New York and that’s what we see happening right now,” LaRue said.
“We’re very optimistic about the vaccine. To get that vaccine out into the community under the best of circumstances, it’ll take six to nine months for that to happen, more likely nine to 12 months.
“There is a date on the calendar that we can confidently say as a society we’ll be able to manage this, but between now and then, the worst of the pandemic is before us with the months of December and January.”
LaRue said he is thankful for Cardinal Dolan’s support, “ensuring we have the resources and support necessary to execute this program,” and praised the work of care members who are tested weekly and have their temperature checked as they enter work.
“It’s really almost impossible to describe my appreciation for our care members and how they put their responsibility to caring for people we serve first and at great risk at times for them and their family,” he said.
Kristina Aziz, a registered nurse and nurse manager at Carmel Richmond Nursing Home on Staten Island, tested positive for a mild case of Covid-19 in the spring and recalled the support she received from ArchCare as well as a care package she received from Carmel Richmond at home. She said they’ll be better prepared if a second wave hits ArchCare facilities.
“We had a lot of extra supplies (from the first wave),” she said. “We saved the extra supplies in the event the next wave came. We had them so we could protect ourselves and the residents.
“I feel when the first wave occurred, no one knew what was going on. We learned and now we’re prepared. The staff members know exactly what to do and we have the equipment. If somebody has symptoms, we’ll be ready to act quickly.”