Sequoia Living and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated: June 1, 2020
Below are answers to some of the top questions we’ve received about Sequoia Living’s response to COVID-19. Please send further questions, feedback, or ideas to Covid-19Questions@sequoialiving.org.
How does the plan for re-opening Sequoia Living communities fit in with local, state, and national re-opening efforts?
Sequoia Living’s services and amenities will reopen later than the state or local counties. We are establishing our own phasing and our own signature Sequoia Standards that will exceed county and state precautions. Residents will also be part of this process. Our decision is informed by weekly COVID-19 calls with other senior living CEOs across the country, the County and State Departments of Health, and our Medical Directors.
We are working with staff on a handout about our phasing plan that also outlines what each of us can do to continue to keep COVID-19 out of our communities. Our goal is to have the handout complete by mid-June.
Current Coronavirus Protocols
What happens if a resident tests positive for COVID-19?
If a resident tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate for 14 days and be symptom-free at the end of the isolation period. If the resident is unable to care for themselves, we will arrange for them to go to a care setting. If a resident is part of a couple, both individuals must self-isolate in their apartment for 14 days and be symptom-free at the end of the isolation period.
How is Sequoia Living reducing infection risk?
As an organization dedicated to healthy aging, Sequoia Living had stringent infection protocols in place before the pandemic began. In early March, we developed the Sequoia Living COVID-19 Action Plan (updated in May). This plan outlines infection prevention standards that go above and beyond city or county mandates.
Are visitors permitted at Sequoia Living communities?
Visitors are not currently permitted at Sequoia Living communities. However, we encourage friends and family to stay connected with residents by phone or through videoconferencing tools like Zoom or FaceTime.
Are residents required to wear cloth face coverings if they go outside their apartments?
Yes. Residents must wear cloth face coverings any time they leave their apartments.
Do residents need to wear a mask if staff enter their apartments?
Yes. In this situation, both staff and residents should wear masks.
Sequoia Living General/Financial
What impact is the pandemic having on Sequoia Living’s finances and viability?
Sequoia Living has been very well run for 60 years. It will take us time to recover, but we will recover, and we will be better for it.
As soon as COVID-19 began to emerge, our Board of Directors and leadership began scenario planning to ensure we had a firm plan in place. Due to this excellent stewardship, we will be able to weather the economic shocks of this crisis.
Sequoia Living’s current cash on hand is very strong: over 300 days. To maintain liquidity in the near term, we are deferring non-essential capital and expenses. These deferrals should have no impact on residents.
Does Sequoia Living qualify for any of the federal assistance plans that have already been enacted?
Sequoia Living did not qualify for funding through the CARES Act because we have too many employees. However, there is a second round of funding that is being pursued.
What is the status of the Viamonte opening?
Viamonte is planning to open in the fall.
How is Sequoia Living screening staff members and third-party contractors each day?
Staff members and contractors are screened daily through temperature checks and a screening questionnaire.
Are employees required to notify Sequoia Living if they or a member of their household is ill with COVID-19 symptoms or has received a positive test for COVID-19?
Yes. Staff members who experience symptoms of COVID-19 or have had close contact with anyone with COVID-19 are required to stay home or are sent home if they have reported to work. This is one of the questions staff must answer during our daily screening process.
What is Sequoia Living’s process for allowing a staff person to return to work after recovering from COVID-19?
Staff may return to work only if the following criteria are met:
- 14 days have passed since the last onset of symptoms.
- At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g., acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin).
- Symptoms must be completely resolved.
- Sequoia Living will check in on the affected staff member routinely.
After 14 days, if any respiratory symptoms persist (such as persistent cough), employees may require additional clearance from management before returning to work. The staff member may also need to get Department of Public Health approval to return to work.
How is Sequoia Living supporting staff members?
Sequoia Living’s support to employees includes:
- Anyone affected by COVID-19 has complete pay continuation.
- We are proceeding with merit increases.
- Senior Services for Northern California enabled us to provide each staff member a superhero bonus.
- Expanding the use of sick leave, which normally would only be available for a bona fide employee illness, for the use of any COVID-19 related absence.
- Creating a Paid Time Off (PTO) donation plan where colleagues can donate their accrued PTO for others to use.
- Expanding the Emergency Relief Fund to provide financial resources to employees for COVID-19 emergency expenses.
- Providing an additional 80 hours of paid time for individuals who need to be off due to COVID-19 related reasons.
- Allowing staff who have reached or are reaching their PTO accrual cap and haven’t been able to take PTO due to COVID-19 related reasons, to cash out 40 hours of PTO from their bank of time.
- Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Daily screening and temperature taking.
- Ongoing education and resources for protecting themselves and their family.
- Superhero socks, personal sanitizers, gift cards, video messages.
Will Sequoia Living institute surveillance coronavirus testing for all those who work and live in its residential facilities?
The counties are approaching our continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) about testing all residents and staff. San Mateo County Health will be testing all Sequoias Portola Valley (SPV) staff on June 1 and June 2, 2020. The testing lab will communicate test results directly to residents and staff 3 to 7 days after the testing takes place. We continue to work closely with our Corporate Medical Director to remain educated about testing options.
How is Sequoia Living keeping residents and families informed during this time?
- Executive Directors of each community send regular updates to residents and family members who are listed as contacts in residents’ medical records.
- Some communities also host conference calls and virtual presentations for residents.
- Each community also distributes Sequoia Living’s organizational/CEO updates to residents and family members who are listed as contacts.
- Sara McVey, Sequoia Living’s President and CEO, hosted conference calls with each CCRC during May.
- Sequoia Living updates are also posted to the Sequoia Living website and individual CCRC websites and Facebook pages.