'Our elderly population is quite fragile': Leaders raise concerns about COVID-19 and seniors

Posted at 10:39 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 23:04:16-04

HAMPTON, Va. - The health and safety of older adults is a concern for health officials.

"I will say, one of the greatest vulnerabilities of this nation right now is nursing homes,” said Dr. Robert Redfield. He’s the director for the CDC.

That also goes for right here in Virginia.

“We’ve have had no cases in nursing homes, but those are people who are at particular risks for severe outcomes,” said Dr. Lilian Peake with the Virginia Department of Health.

The message is clear: The older adults have a higher risk of getting sick from the coronavirus.

“Our elderly population is quite fragile 'cause most of them have co-morbidity diseases that can be affected when they are dealing with a virus or any type of bacterial infection,” said Giovanni Montague-Sneed.

Montague-Sneed is the Senior Vice President of Resident Care at Commonwealth Senior Living in Hampton.

“We often deal with viruses, influenza and things of that nature,” she adds.

And they aren’t taking any chances with their residents. They have reminders in their facility telling people about the virus and to do things as simple as washing your hands.

“We are asking them to frequently wash their hands if they are in the community or something of that nature... to use a tissue and immediately dispose of that,” Montague-Sneed.

Even though there aren't any restrictions at Commonwealth Senior Living or any of their other communities in the area, leaders are still taking precautions with signs that tell people: If you're sick, don't even come in.

“It’s just a heightened awareness in making sure that we are taking the appropriate steps: High-touch surface areas, screening visitors and vendors as they enter to make sure they aren’t opposing a risk to our residents or associates,” leaders say.

But that’s not the same everywhere. Sentara Life Care facilities - including all Sentara Nursing Centers, Rehabilitation Centers and its Assisted Living Village - will also limit visitors to two per day.

Leaders with Sentara Healthcare say this is to ensure safety.

Montague-Sneed says do not jeopardize the health and safety of your loved on if you aren’t feeling well.

“Certainly consider the health of yourself and loved one as a first priority, which I’m sure is the last thing anyone wants to do intentionally. Just be very mindful of what their health situation is like,” she says.