GERRY — Three positive COVID-19 test results among employees is causing Heritage Ministries to suspend visitation to its three skilled facilities, but barring any new positive tests, the facilities could allow visitation again soon.
CEO Lisa Haglund told WNYNewsNow on Friday the agency has conducted about 20,000 COVID tests during the last few months and have had only six positive results, but the three latest were all within the same week.
“Right now, it’s kind of the worst all at once, we have three employees, one at each of our skilled facilities that tested positive,” Haglund said.
Haglund noted the employees are asymptomatic and will be retested to make sure the results are not false positives.
The employees work, one each, at Heritage Village in Gerry, Heritage Green at of Bemus Point and Heritage Park in Jamestown.
She noted that there are concerns because of the approach of flu season and winter.
“Our hearts are just bleeding.We head into these season that were so used to hearing about it that we’re forgetting what it really means.”
She said Heritage Ministries’ 800 employees serve 600 to 800 residents.
Using the proper approach to the virus has helped stem the tide at her non-profit agency, she said.
“Because we’re doing it the right way, we’re limiting that spread,” she said.
However, the cost of personal protection equipment and tested has run into about $4 Million for the agency, Haglund said.
The suspended visitation means family and employees need to try other ways to honor residents on birthdays and special occasions, she explained.
“I think our main focus as a community, we have to really take a step back and say ‘Boy, if that was my mother or grandmother…” Haglund said. “I would ask for the community to ask and reach out to us and say how can I help.”
She said staff are helping residents celebrate because their families really can’t do much during the pandemic. She suggested the community can help, not just financially, but also by participating in a window visit or by planting a mum outside by a window.
Heritage suspended their visitation because it is mandated by New York State.