Sholom Bracing For COVID Spikes

As COVID cases are rising throughout Minnesota, Sholom’s east and west campuses are seeing the cases rise in those facilities as well.

“We certainly watch all the positivity rates and the COVID numbers and people who are in ICU at the hospital, and as those numbers climb, I know it’s going to reach, unfortunately, our vulnerable seniors who live here, and our staff,” said Sholom CEO Barb Klick. “So we’re seeing an uptick in the positivity of COVID for our staff and our residents.”

According to Sholom’s dashboard, which is updated daily, the Ackerberg Campus Sholom West has a 1.06 percent positivity rate amongst its 471 residents, and 3.07 percent among 424 staff. On the Shaller East Campus, there is a 1.69 percent positive rate for 178 residents and 2.01 percent for the 298 staff members,

“The very hard thing is, and this is happening all across healthcare – hospitals, as well as long term care facilities like Sholom –  we’re all going to be into having workforce shortages, it’s going to be really difficult if these numbers continue to climb,” Klick said.

Cases had decreased for much of the summer after the initial wave that started in mid-March. Klick said that she was proud of the leadership and staff for taking what was learned early on to try and keep people healthy now as cases are on the rise.

“There’s training, after training, after training and audits to make sure you’re putting on and taking off your equipment,” she said. “We’re screening everybody at the beginning of every shift. I think people have really, really ramped up their competency and infection control practices.”

Klick used the example of a local rabbi who was in with a positive resident for more than 15 minutes. The rabbi had to quarantine for a period of time, but their test came back negative.

“Because he was wearing his face shield his mask, and he was six feet away,” she said. “So people at least are doing that.”

Klick is concerned about burning out her staff – even with overtime pay available.

“I will just tell you as a nurse over 40 years, I’ve been in these situations, and after a while, it doesn’t matter. You’re just exhausted,” she said. “We worry about burning out staff too, that’s putting in lots and lots of extra time and I see that with leadership. We just work through the weekends.”

Klick has stressed the need for the staff to think about each other and the residents when they aren’t at work.

“I tell them our lives are in each other’s hands. If your family is safe, then you’re going to be safe. That means then your colleagues are going to be safe and our residents are going to be safe,” she said. “So I say to everybody at every new employee orientation, or in-service, ‘I know you have to go to the grocery store. But please don’t go to Sturgis.”

Klick said that despite the high numbers in Minnesota and in congregate living facilities, she said that she’s proud of the staff for doing their part to keep the numbers down.

“We’re wearing the PPE, and we’re making sure we take it on and off correctly, and we’re washing our hands a million times and we have UV things and we’re cleaning with electrostatic stuff and extra this and extra that,” she said. “It’s because of all that, that we’re able to keep these numbers down. I just want people to know how proud I am of working here.”

Klick also thanked the staff and community for their support, including the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Kadima campaign, St. Paul Jewish Federation, JFCS Minneapolis, JFS St. Paul, and the JCCs.

“I’ve never felt the support of the community like we have during this,” she said, thanking people for bringing treats, offering to bring puzzles for residents, and sewing masks. “It’s really, really heartwarming to see a community really support their seniors and the people who serve them.”