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Ecumen Lakeshore admits first person with COVID-19 into its new partitioned care area

Ecumen Lakeshore has been preparing to provide short-term care to people with COVID-19 since mid-March.

FSA Coronavirus local

Ecumen Lakeshore, a senior living facility on London Road in Duluth, admitted its first individual with COVID-19 into the facility's new partitioned care area.

The person arrived Tuesday and had previously been hospitalized, said Ecumen Lakeshore community relations manager, Jena Evans. In mid-March Ecumen announced to staff, residents and their families that it planned to create a controlled and separate space where staff could safely care for people with COVID-19.

"There's a need for this in the community and we're really honored to provide this," Evans said.

The partitioned care area includes 10 private rooms for potential short-term residents to help people get back to their homes or where they were living before. The unit is in the west wing of the building's main floor in The Fountains, which is the short-stay rehabilitation area.

So far, no residents or employees at Ecumen Lakeshore have been known to have COVID-19.


"Our first priority since we began preparing for managing this virus is the safety of our residents and our Lake Shore Community and our team members," Evans said.

Staff that are working in the partitioned care area will be limited and have received specialized training so as not to transmit the virus.

"They will have personal protective equipment when they are in that area," Evans said. "They have been highly educated to be able to remove garments when they're on the unit and then there is a process in place for them to clean themselves and change into new clothing before entering the campus."

The partitioned care area is for people who are no longer appropriate for a hospital stay, but aren't quite ready to return to their normal residence.

Evans said the facility has received concern from its community members about bringing in people with COVID-19, though not as much as expected. Since everyone was first informed in mid-March, Evans said, staff has had the chance to answer questions and address concerns.

"Talking through why we're doing it and how we're doing it has been really helpful," Evans said. "Certainly, there's still fear, of course, but having that information early on, I think, has made a world of a difference."

As for other safety measures the facility has implemented, visitors haven't been allowed since mid-March and all employees must be screened upon entering and leaving the campus. Employees must also wash or sanitize their hands before entering and masks are worn by everyone within the campus. Group activities have been canceled and residents must eat in their rooms or apartments.

Ecumen is closely screening all referrals. As of Tuesday, Evans said there were no plans for more people to be admitted into the partitioned care area.


"We care for our community and we care for those in need," Evans said. "We thought our focus would be caring for those who live here already, but we saw the greater good in the community ... and we want to serve our community."

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