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COVID-19 Update

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory – August 18, 2020

Cases of COVID-19 are occurring in Florida and locally at a decreased rate compared to a month ago. As of August 17, there are 1,515 cases in Sumter County, with 250 occurring in the last week. In Lake County, there are 5,616 cases with 475 occurring in the last week. In Marion County, there are 7,305 cases with 770 occurring in the last week. As of this morning there are 14 patients in the UF The Villages Hospital and 34 in UF Leesburg Hospital. 10 of these patients are in intensive care with 6 on ventilators. Hospitalization peaked on July 21 with a total of 81 patients at the two hospitals trending down to less than 50 per day for the last 5 days. Mortality from COVID-19 lags hospitalization and has been increasing. At the UF hospitals 14 people died between March 1 and July 7. Between July 8 and July 28 another 18 people died and from July 29 through August 17 another 43 people died.

At The Villages Health we care for almost 60,000 patients. As of August 17, we know of 119 cases with 26 hospitalizations and 8 deaths. There are likely cases among our patients we have not heard about. We likely heard about all our patients who were hospitalized or died. Our employees are also not immune. As of August 17 we have tested 37 team members with 12 being positive, 16 negative and 9 pending results. 11 of the 12 team members are back at work having completed the necessary quarantine period. Most health care workers, whether at hospitals, nursing homes or our care centers have their exposures outside of work.

The upward trend decelerated and over the last three weeks the number of known cases among 15- to 35-year-olds slowed while those of adults aged 45-75 have been increasing. Younger individuals are typically more able to tolerate and survive the infection, older individuals are at higher risk for more serious outcomes related to this infection. The Villages Charter School is opening this week and taking steps to reduce transmission between students, teachers and staff.

Communities where large populations of seniors live are advised to take proactive steps to reduce the risk of disease transmission. The Villages is the nation’s largest 55 and older active living community.

Seniors who have serious medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, or conditions reflective of weakened immunity are at even higher risk. These individuals can make decisions that reduce their risk of getting COVID-19. They should consider postponing participation in large scale social events, particularly those events held indoors with multiple close contacts. Everyone can help reduce the risk of community spread until the magnitude and severity of this infection is more widely known and understood.

For mild or moderate disease, there is no current treatment that is proven to be effective; therefore, rest, fluids, quarantine and time are often the recommended treatment. Many different treatments are being tested and have their advocates and detractors. The science is not there yet for recommendation. There is active ongoing work to develop a vaccine. Questions about development of herd immunity are still seeking answers. For those with severe disease, in intensive care and on ventilators, there are two medications that help with symptoms and probably survival: dexamethasone and remdesivir. There is ongoing study of interleukin 6 inhibitors nationally. None of these are intended for prevention and should not be taken outside a hospital setting.

Everyone can help by taking the following actions:   

  • People should not attend in-person events if they are sick
  • Social distancing of at least 6 feet is important
  • Consistent mask wearing is advised
  • Frequent handwashing, avoid shaking hands and minimize hand-to-face contact
  • Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, then wash your hands
  • Avoid interactions that last 15 minutes and are within 6 feet of others, especially without masks
  • Flu vaccines should be arriving this week. TVH hopes to set up a drive-up vaccination program.

The Villages Health current actions to create a safer environment: 

  • Temperature checks and questionnaire for all staff, patients and guests who enter a care center
  • Employees who are ill or exposed are being quarantined at home until safe for return to work
  • Social distancing practiced throughout the workplace
  • Required mask use for all in the care center (patients and guests are provided masks if they need them)
  • Telephone triage to help assess risk, need for testing and need for aggressive care like hospital visits
  • COVID-19 testing, if recommended, is performed in the parking lot to avoid potential infection of others
  • Patients will be called and offered a telehealth visit to provide needed care without risk of exposure in a care center

Two resources for more information: 

The Florida Department of Health has established a call center for general questions at 866-779-6121, which is manned from 8 AM – 5 PM. Specific questions related to guidance may be directed to the Sumter County Health Department at 352-569-3102.

The Villages Health is working hard to keep you safe, while also ensuring we take care of your health care needs. As we all work together, we will continue our path to becoming America’s Healthiest Hometown®.

Sincerely,


Jeffrey Lowenkron, MD
Chief Medical Officer
The Villages Health


OneBlood, serving The Villages® & Central Florida Now Testing for COVID-19 Antibodies

The blood bank serving The Villages® and other parts of Central Florida is now testing all donor blood for COVID-19 antibodies. Potential donors are encouraged to contribute to help researchers find answers on possible immunity.

Read the Daily Sun Article


Telemedicine Popularity on the Rise During COVID-19 Pandemic

The demand for telemedicine and telehealth services has exploded in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Ashley Wood, medical director at The Villages Health Creekside Care Center was recently featured in The Villages Daily Sun for providing telehealth services.

Read the Daily Sun Article


Physical Fitness During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Each year, our nation celebrates National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May. This year is no exception, but it does hold some new challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts agree regular physical exercise has a profound and positive impact on our immune system and benefits both the mind and body.

How can you accomplish your physical exercise goals and regimens during a time when access to gyms and parks are restricted? With some simple adjustments and determination, it’s still possible. These suggestions are only intended for individuals without any symptoms or diagnosis of respiratory illness and should not replace medical guidance in case of any health condition.

Indoor Exercise

A more sedentary lifestyle can have negative effects on our physical and mental health and overall quality of life. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults aged 18 and over do a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activities throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity throughout the week. This should include strengthening activities at least two days per week.

For older adults with poor mobility, three or more days of physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls is suggested. You can follow the five elements of fitness from almost any area of your home:

  • Warmup. This can be as simple as walking around your house at a steady pace, on a treadmill or at a slow pace on a stationary bike. These activities prepare your body for a more vigorous activity and help prevent injury.
  • Cardiovascular. Try “high knee” exercise, which is essentially running in place. Stand with your legs together and arms at your sides. Lift one knee toward your chest. Lower your leg and repeat with the other knee. Continue alternating knees, pumping your arms up and down. Other ideas include jumping rope or even dancing to your favorite tunes! Try an exercise video or pedal faster if you have a stationary bike.
  • Resistance. Strength-building exercises not only build muscle and increase bone density, but help your body burn more calories and can even boost your mood. Some good indoor strength-building exercises include push-ups, crunches, and squats; working with dumbbells or bands.
  • Flexibility. Stretching allows for easier movement and helps give your muscles and joints a greater range of motion, improved balance and increased balance. Some ideas for this training include neck stretches, shoulder stretches, hamstring stretches, glutes stretches and more. Work in some stretch routines that target the areas of your body you would like to be more flexible.
  • Cooldown. The cool-down portion of a workout routine is designed to reduce your heart and breathing rates and gradually cool your body temperature. It can also reduce muscle soreness and stiffness and prevent venous pooling of blood in the lower extremities, which can cause dizziness. To cool down, you can walk around your home, stretch out your legs, stretch your chest, or do some slow-paced jumping jacks.

Remember, any physical activity is better than none. Start slow and increase duration, frequency and intensity over time. During this time of COVID-19, even short amounts of activity at a time can make a difference. Over the course of a week, you’ll be surprised how much you’ve accomplished. Even cleaning and gardening help you stay active and flexible.

Register for a Learning Center Class Today

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Telehealth Visits Now Available

A Message from our Chief Medical Officer Regarding Your Care

As you are aware, COVID-19 (coronavirus) is a serious concern all across the country and the world. Social distancing is the one thing we can all do to reduce the spread to protect ourselves and others. To that end, The Villages Health is moving rapidly to reduce both the number of patients (both sick and healthy) in the care centers, and the number of our team members working in and traveling through our facilities – all without sacrificing the level of care we deliver to you and our community.

To that end, we are now offering telehealth visits. Many of your medical concerns can be addressed by this visit type. You can now hold an appointment with your provider over the telephone, with an option to connect by video. This is the best way to assure your safety, and the safety of our other patients and team members.

If you have an upcoming appointment, you will be contacted soon (if you haven’t been so already) to discuss updating your appointment to a telehealth visit. You will not have to reschedule or cancel your appointment.

If you do not want a telehealth visit, you will have the option to reschedule or cancel your upcoming appointment.

If you wish to schedule a future telehealth appointment, you may do so by calling your care center to schedule an appointment just as you have done in the past.

Please be advised, if your situation requires an in-office visit we will still see you. However, your need will first be assessed by our medical team. Before you are permitted to enter the care center, you will be screened for potential COVID-19 exposure. If you are symptomatic, you will be advised to self-quarantine. Testing supplies are not available at the Care Center at this time.

I want to assure you that The Villages Health is still here and available to keep you healthy and to heal you quickly. Thank you for your patience, flexibility and understanding during this unprecedented time.

Sincerely,

Jeff Lowenkron, MD, MPP
Chief Medical Officer
The Villages Health


All Learning Center Classes Moved Online

You May Register to Attend an Online Class

Please DO NOT Come to the Learning Center

We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 virus and taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus as per the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations. As a result, we will temporarily conduct our Learning Center classes virtually and will suspend some seminars and expos until it is determined safe to conduct them in person.

Please note: if you are scheduled for a memory screening, you may still attend. Please review the following list for full details on upcoming events, seminars and classes.

Learning Center Classes

For your safety, Learning Center classes will be conducted virtually. Please DO NOT come to the Learning Center. Instead, you may continue to register for your classes of choice and we will send you a link to join us ONLINE.

Matter of Balance Classes

Cancelled through the end of March

Five Wishes Seminars

Cancelled through the end of March. If you already registered for these programs, we have sent you a link to register for April sessions.

Audiology Seminars and Expos

Cancelled through the end of March. If you already registered for these programs, we have sent you a link to register for April sessions.

Medical Nutrition Therapy and Diabetes Education Appointments

Individuals scheduled for medical nutrition therapy or diabetes education will be offered the opportunity to have their sessions virtually.

We will contact you with details of how to join us via telephone or an easy-to-use webinar option.

Memory Screenings

You may still join us for your memory screenings. We will allow extra time to sanitize the space between each appointment.

Call The Learning Center at 352-674-1779 for more information or for any questions you may have.


Resources from Florida Department of Health – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For up-to-date information related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Florida, we recommend visiting the Florida Department of Health website.

Coronavirus Cases in Florida Live Dashboard

See where the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is developing, county by county, in Florida.

General Prevention

Tips on how to prevent the spread of the Conoravirus in general.

Caring for Older Adults

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults may have a greater chance for serious illness from COVID-19—especially people with weak immune systems or underlying chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, diabetes or kidney disease.

Should I get Tested?

Have you been in close contact with someone who has recently returned from international travel or a cruise and has any of the symptoms of Coronavirus?

Protect Yourself in Crowds

Limit group interactions if you are 65 or older and have underlying or chronic health conditions, compromised immunity, diabetes or heart or lung disease.

Social Distancing

Social distancing measures are taken to restrict when and where people can gather to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. Social distancing measures include limiting large groups of people coming together, closing buildings and canceling events.


An Important Announcement from Our Chief Medical Officer

Measures We Are Taking to Protect Against COVID-19

In an effort to protect our patients, visitors, physicians and staff, The Villages Health has implemented some safety measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other illnesses. These measures include:

On the Phone Patient Screening

If a patient calls to book an appointment and complains of fever, cough, or shortness of breath, the Registered Nurses who staff our Nurse Help Line will follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to properly screen patients and to advise the patient how to proceed.

Patients exhibiting symptoms should not enter the care centers. Instead, please Call Our Nurse Help Line at (352) 674-1777.

At the Care Centers

In the event a patient does arrive at one of our Care Centers with complaints of fever cough, or shortness of breath, the following will occur per CDC guidelines:

  • The patient will be greeted with a large sign asking them to STOP, DO NOT ENTER and instead please Call Our Nurse Help Line at (352) 674-1777.
  • If a patient does enter the lobby, they will be given a mask and asked to wait in a separate area in order to minimize exposure to others.

We are taking extra measures to sanitize our facilities during the day and to remove items that could spread illness (e.g. magazines and newspapers from our care center living rooms). The Villages Commercial Property Management has also enhanced its efforts to align with the recommended standards for the COVID-19 virus cleaning and maintenance practices. They have expanded the scope of their janitorial services to include specific attention to the cleaning and disinfecting of hard surfaces of all common areas of facilities within our community, including The Villages Health Care Centers.

For the duration of the CDC’s social distancing recommendation, we’ve moved our learning center classes to an online format. You may continue to register as normal for the classes that you are interested in and a link will be sent to allow you to join from home.

Furthermore, if staff members are sick we are allowing flexible time off policies to allow them to fully recover and to prevent the spread of illness.

COVID-19 Testing

Testing kits will be available at The Villages Health Care Centers very soon. Only ten (10) kits per care center will be available at a time, and will be given to patients who exhibit symptoms per CDC guidelines.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid large gatherings, including sporting events, church and grocery stores during peak times.
  • When you must be around others in public, keep a 6-foot distance between you.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Please know your safety, and the safety of our physicians and staff, is of the utmost importance. We are in close communication with the CDC, other government agencies and internal teams to remain fully on top of the situation.

For additional resources, we will post periodic updates on our website at TheVillagesHealth.com/coronavirus. You are also encouraged to visit www.floridahealth.gov for the latest information related to COVID-19 in Florida. Additionally, the Florida Department of Health has set up a COVID-19 call center available 24/7 at (866) 779-6121.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Lowenkron, MD, MPP
Chief Medical Officer
The Villages Health


 

Public Service Announcement: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

We realize that you may have questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and want to make sure you have the latest information:

  • As of March 15, 2020, there are no known cases of coronavirus infection reported in the Tri-County area. There are 106 confirmed cases in the State of Florida.
  • At the present time, more people may be concerned about being infected with coronavirus than actually have it. 
  • Most people who develop symptoms from the virus have a flu-like illness.
  • Influenza can cause serious medical problems, therefore, immunization against influenza is strongly encouraged. At this time, there is no vaccine or specific treatment available for the coronavirus.
  • For mild cases, rest, fluids, good hand-washing and time will resolve most infections.
  • Even persons with mild infections can help the prevention effort by limiting their exposure to others and following the guidance that has been outlined, including self-quarantine.
  • Additionally, thorough hand washing with soap, respiratory etiquette, such as covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and avoiding contact with others if you are sick are helpful measures to reduce disease transmission in a general sense (including coronavirus). 
  • Persons who recently have returned from foreign travel are advised to self-quarantine by remaining at home for 14 days upon return. If these persons develop symptoms (fever, productive cough/shortness of breath), they should contact the local health department. 
  • Testing is not widely available as of March 15, 2020. Commercial laboratories and the Department of Health are working to increase testing capacity.
  • Since there is no specific treatment for COVID-19, both a positive and negative test results are treated based only on clinical symptoms.
  • For general public concerns and questions, the State of Florida Department of Health has established a dedicated call center at 866-779-6121
  • Latest updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) can be found online at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html or the Florida Department of Health at http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/.

 



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One of the beautiful things about this whole system is the fact that you never have to tell anyone anything, they have your medical history in front of them. You just go to the front desk and say who you are, and you sign in and that’s it! The coordination of your health history is always right in front of whoever you are with and that’s wonderful.

Diane Kupchak, Patient at Creekside Care Center & Specialty Care Center