As states and senior living communities are reopening again in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Meridian Senior Living is employing a medical director and implementing testing as part of its reopening strategy, whereas Aegis Living has adopted “commitments” that include research, technology and expanded nursing care.

Bethesda, MD-based Meridian, which operates more than 75 communities in 21 states and co-manages 24 communities in China, hired a licensed physician to serve as its medical director and facilitate its testing program “until the COVID-19 situation is deemed under control.” 

“Our collaboration with the lab and the appointment of our medical director is a vital pivot point in our reopening strategy. We now have the resources and medical expertise to routinely test,” Kacy Kang, Meridian president and chief opening officer, said in a statement. “This is an extension of our ongoing commitment to keep our communities as safe as possible while decreasing the risk of issues that arise from long periods of isolation, both with our residents and seniors in the towns and cities in which we operate.”

The operator partnered with a major U.S.-based testing laboratory — which it said it could not name, per company policy — to allow for more frequent testing of symptomatic residents and staff and to decrease quarantine timeframes for new admissions. Multiple negative tests will be required to decrease quarantine time from the previously enforced 14 days. 

A Meridian spokesperson said the lab set up a testing program with the company’s communities and executed it within a week, providing results within 24 to 48 hours. Testing through local and state labs would mean a delay in results as long as a week, the spokesperson added.

Employees are tested at least monthly, with 25% of staff members tested weekly. Residents will be offered routine testing if they are symptomatic or they are exposed to someone who tests positive for the virus.

“We believe that testing one time does not ensure ongoing safety of our residents and team members and that our ongoing program will help catch any infections on a more regular basis,” the spokesperson told McKnight’s Senior Living.

Aegis Living unveils ‘commitments’ as part of reopening strategy

Bellevue, WA-based Aegis Living on Tuesday unveiled a series of company-wide commitments spanning leadership, operations, research and resident care in an effort to redefine how it operates during the COVID-19 era.

“Our number one priority is to apply our 23 years of experience and deep clinical expertise to continue to innovate well ahead of this virus to ensure we are the safest place for our seniors and also a place where they can thrive — physically, mentally and emotionally — now and well into the future,” Aegis Living President Kris Engskov said in a statement. 

The organization’s strategy includes:

  • Appointing a dedicated infection control and safety officer and appointing a Coronavirus Advisory Council of medical experts;
  • Launching a research partnership with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to identify transmission insights and containment best practices;
  • Adopting new infection control strategies, including virus-fighting technologies;
  • “Dramatically” increasing nursing care capacity to support its 32 communities and 2,500 residents;
  • Developing a culinary wellness program to provide “immune-boosting” meals and nutritional supplements;
  • Creating new spaces for residents to connect virtually with families or medical providers; and
  • Exploring new opportunities for in-person visits, such as the introduction of outdoor living rooms.