Important Information on Otterbein’s Response to the COVID-19 Virus

Check back here for future updates as the situation evolves.

jill wilson of otterbein senior living

A Message From Jill Wilson, President and CEO of Otterbein SeniorLife

The safety and well-being of Otterbein residents, patients, partners (employees), and visitors is of primary importance each and every day. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, and our “at-risk” population, Otterbein SeniorLife will be adhering to all governmental recommendations and regulations and initiating additional precautions.

Status and Updates

The Otterbein Neighborhood Offensive is our plan to exercise an over-abundance of caution, but simultaneously an aggressive approach, to managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Otterbein operates 47 small house nursing homes in locations throughout Ohio – the worldwide leader in the operation of small house nursing homes.
• The small house model, with 10 elders (soon to be 12 elders) and dedicated caregivers means the spread of COVID-19 can be controlled dramatically better than in large, institutional nursing home environments.
• Otterbein tests and re-test elders (residents) and caregivers weekly. Unvaccinated partners are tested daily and vaccinated partners are tested 2 times a week. We use rapid tests and we also have a partnership with a private laboratory that provides results in less than 3 days, most often less than 2 days.
• Our aggressive approach with testing helps to identify asymptomatic elders/caregivers before they spread the virus widely. It is proven that early identification means effective tracking, quarantining, and recovery in specially defined COVID.
• In all of 2020, with thousands of tests completed, the 47 Otterbein small houses identified only 31 elders testing positive. In most cases the elders were asymptomatic.
• Otterbein has gradually, and safely, opened up outdoor visitation options at each location. With safety in mind, stringent precautions for the setting, social distancing, masking and other health guidelines are in place at all times: visitors must pass a COVID screening in order to visit and are recommended, not required, to test prior to the visit. Tests are provided by Otterbein.

The Otterbein Offensive continues. While a majority of our partners are vaccinated, we are testing unvaccinated partners prior to every work shift, and vaccinated partners no less than twice each week. Visitors to our skilled nursing and assisted living areas are screened and strongly encouraged to test in advance of every visit, even if vaccinated.

President Biden recently announced that he will be extending the vaccination mandate essentially to all healthcare workers. We will comply with this mandate and anticipate the various government regulations will be rolled out in late September or early October.

Otterbein’s skilled nursing and assisted living areas are required to adhere to the standards set by the departments of health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The rules related to positive cases have been more stringent than in the local communities we serve – testing, isolation, quarantines, and restrictions on visitation. Up until today, those rules were requiring strict quarantines even for those who are fully vaccinated. I am pleased to share that effective immediately, the CMS and the CDC have changed the rules for those residents who are fully vaccinated.

Essentially, if a fully vaccinated resident living in our nursing or assisted living has direct contact with a COVID-19 positive person, they will no longer be required to quarantine as long as they test negative and are not displaying symptoms. However, they will be asked to mask when in common areas. The rule has not changed for unvaccinated residents. Thus, if a resident is unvaccinated and has direct contact with a positive COVID-19 person, they will still be required to quarantine for 14 days. We realize isolation and quarantines can be onerous on residents and their families and friends. If you or your loved one is unvaccinated, I ask that you reconsider and get vaccinated. We stand ready to vaccinate upon request.

The “Delta” variant of the COVID-19 virus is becoming prevalent throughout the United States and is extremely dangerous. It’s both very contagious, and the severity of the virus is dramatically higher than previous variants. Ohio recorded more new cases last week than in any other week since early May 2021. The pandemic is not over and we continue to be vigilant in adhering to protocols designed for the safety of residents, partners, and their respective families.

Our plea to all remains the same – If you haven’t done so already, it’s TIME. Set a date to vaccinate!

Detailed below are the guidelines for Otterbein SeniorLife Independent Living residents and visitors entering indoor common areas and/or amenities, exclusive of areas dedicated to assisted living and/or nursing, inside SeniorLife Communities:
If FULLY VACCINATED for COVID-19:
  • Single point of entry
  • Screened upon entering the building
  • Exception – congregate living residents need not be screened each time upon entering the building
  • No requirement to mask
  • No requirement to socially distance
If NOT YET FULLY VACCINATED for COVID-19:
  • Single point of entry
  • Screened upon entering the building
  • Requirement to mask while inside the building
  • Requirement to socially distance while inside the building
Should independent living residents and/or other visitors choose to visit areas dedicated to assisted living and/or nursing, there are no changes to current protocols:
If FULLY VACCINATED for COVID-19:
  • Single point of entry
  • Screened upon entering the building, and asked to display proof of vaccination (if no proof is provided, the visitor will be treated as if NOT YET FULLY VACCINATED)
  • Escorted to the resident’s room and/or designated visitation area
  • Requirement to mask and socially distance while in common areas on the route to the resident’s room or visitation area, at which point if both the resident and visitor are vaccinated and upon concurrence of the resident, masks are not required and the parties may touch and hug.
If NOT YET FULLY VACCINATED for COVID-19:
  • Single point of entry
  • Screened upon entering the building
  • Encouraged to test for COVID-19 prior to entering the area
  • Escorted to the resident’s room and/or the designated visitation area
  • Requirement to mask and socially distance throughout the stay, and while inside the building
Note: Partners, including those in support of independent living residents, must continue to follow the Otterbein SeniorLife masking/social distancing protocol.

Learn more about recent COVID-19 positivity rates for all nursing homes in Ohio and Indiana, and compare them with the rates for Otterbein SeniorLife communities.

COVID positivity rate chart - OH

COVID positivity rate chart - IN

Otterbein CEO Jill Wilson receives COVID vaccineOtterbein residents and partners will be among the first to receive the new COVID-19 vaccine. CEO Jill Wilson received her vaccine on 12/22/20 and we are looking forward to administering many more in the coming weeks.

More Information About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Your best protection from COVID-19 will be a combination of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, and washing your hands often. No one tool alone will stop the pandemic. Learn about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination so you’ll be ready when a vaccine is recommended.

None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States uses the live virus that causes COVID-19. You may have symptoms like a fever after you get a vaccine. This is normal and a sign that your immune system is learning how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about the facts behind COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC.

As the result of the high COVID-19 positivity rate in each Ohio County in which Otterbein SeniorLife operates (greater than 10%), and the protocol required by the Ohio Department of Health, INDOOR visitation to Otterbein SeniorLife nursing and assisted living residents/elders has been suspended for the near-term. In the meantime, we will help in any way we can to facilitate telephone, Skype, Zoom or other methods of resident to family contact. The visitation suspension does not apply to non-routine compassionate care resident visits.

Otterbein has administered 55,037 tests of residents, partners, and contractors since March 2020

Currently averaging 2,500 tests per week

Over 600 communications have gone out to partners (employees), residents, and family members, averaging 25 to 30 pieces of correspondence per week to families, residents, and partners.

Average of 1,900 tests completed each week.

34,700 tests have been completed, including:

  • 14,362 resident tests
  • 20,338 partner (employee) and contractor tests

COVID-19 Tests

To date, all Otterbein locations have cumulatively tested 26,563 residents, partners, and contractors, with another 2,000 tests planned for the coming weeks.

Visitation Procedures

  • All vistors must mear a facemask and check in before the visit.

  • Outdoor visitation will only occur weather-permitting.

  • All visits must be scheduled in advance and are limited to 45 minutes each.

Community Reopening Policies

Governor DeWine announced on Monday, June 29, that outdoor visits in nursing homes will be permissible starting on July 20. Otterbein will have designated staff to schedule and will do everything to accommodate these visits, as we understand how important they are to the residents and their families and friends.

Otterbein Lebanon is the first community open for visitation and to have amenities re-opened. Other communities will follow. Please be aware of social distancing and health guidelines at all times, including:

  • Wearing a facemask

  • Maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between you and other people

  • Avoiding touching your face

  • Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and/or using an approved hand sanitizer

Unfortunately, we must all be aware the virus is still spreading and the threat still exists, so visits will be conducted with stringent safety measures. The Department of Health has issued detailed requirements that we all must adhere. We ask only that you carefully follow the guidelines and criteria so that we can all continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who are entrusted to our care.

Amenities Re-Opening

  • Restaurants require reservations in advance and residents should wear facemasks at all times unless eating

  • Room service and grocery/shopping delivery remain available

  • (Lebanon) The Otterbein Health Clinic is open by appointment only

  • (Lebanon) The Creative Arts Center is open by appointment only and limited to 10 residents at any given time

  • (Lebanon) COVID-19 testing is available if desired by appointment

Otterbein Offensive begins

  • The OTTERBEIN OFFENSIVE is our plan to exercise over-caution and take a proactive approach to managing this very complex situation.
  • To further slow the spread we must identify anyone and everyone carrying the virus early. Otterbein will take a bold step in being even more proactive in combating COVID-19. To accomplish this we plan to go well beyond most care providers and do much more extensive testing. We will do so through our new plan – the “OTTERBEIN OFFENSIVE.” We will begin to conduct very large numbers of COVID-19 tests to all caregiving partners and all nursing and assisted living residents. This enables us to go on the offensive, testing not just those that have symptoms, but those that do not.
  • We are planning to test well over a thousand residents and partners. We recognize this approach will likely result in more positive tests, but more effectively enable us to isolate residents or partners earlier and further reduce the spread of the virus.

Notification to the resident and families will be made within 24 hours for the first cases of resident or staff test positive for COVID-19.

  • Elevator passengers should be limited to one person (unless a couple) for each elevator ride.
  • Otterbein partners will complete a resident screen for each resident in congregate living at least two times each week.
  • Skilled nursing, assisted living and apartment residents, are required to wear masks whenever they venture outside of their room/apartment.
  • All direct caregivers and those working within nursing, assisted living should:
    • Change into clean clothes at Otterbein, prior to starting their shift
    • Change out clothes prior to leaving the facility.
    • Place clothes in a plastic bag prior to leaving facility.
    • Once home remove shoes prior to entering.
    • Launder clothes immediately at the highest recommended setting.
    • Shower upon entering home.
  • Any direct caregivers working at other facilities should change into clean clothes prior to entering Otterbein.
  • Hospice caregivers and other health contractors such as lab, x-ray should wear new gowns at each location.

All direct caregivers will wear masks. Outpatient therapy has been placed on hold.

Healthcare residents who leave the campus will be isolated for 14 days upon their return until further notice.

  • New healthcare admissions will be isolated to their rooms for 14 days.
  • Direct caregivers for post-acute units will wear masks.
  • New healthcare admission residents will be masked while receiving direct care for 14 days.
  • Apartment residents who leave campus will be isolated to their room for 14 days.
  • Video tours will replace in-person tours at all communities.
  • Otterbein SeniorLife will continue to comply with all infection control policies and procedures.

Our Adult Day Services at Lebanon are closed until further notice

All campus dining rooms are closed, group activities are eliminated, and external visitors are not allowed into apartments and campus center buildings. All necessary personnel will be rigorously screened for signs of COVID-19.

covid health and safety

Frequently Asked Questions

What precautions is Otterbein SeniorLife taking to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on residents and employees?

From the outset of the pandemic, Otterbein has exercised an overabundance of caution in dealing with the virus. We have followed every recommendation from the various governmental agencies and layered additional safety precautions as more information becomes available.

Currently, as just a few examples, no visitors are allowed in the campus center or apartment buildings; everyone – including caregivers – is screened upon entry; residents are isolated in units and/or rooms for all activities; any resident leaving campus for any reason is quarantined for 14 days upon return; caregivers are masked when providing care.

What is Otterbein SeniorLife’s plan if a resident has symptoms associated with COVID-19?

The resident will be further isolated from those asymptomatic, and the medical director will work to arrange a test. Caregivers will be dedicated to the same isolation unit day after day, and extra precautions will be added when contact is required.

What will Otterbein SeniorLife do if a resident test proves positive for COVID-19?

Residents will still be sent to the hospital, as we always have – in cases where the doctor orders it and a resident’s acuity is best cared for and resolved by hospital caregivers.

What will Otterbein SeniorLife do if a partner (employee) has symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, and later tests positive?

Otterbein SeniorLife partners are screened at any point they enter a campus center or apartment building. The screen includes a series of questions, a respiratory test, and temperature-taking.

If the partner presents with symptoms and fails the screen, he/she is sent home, instructed to immediately contact the doctor, and is provided an Otterbein counselor to lead them through a process. In a perfect world, the partner sees the doctor and receives a diagnosis.

If the diagnosis is something other than COVID-19, the partner may return to work once symptom-free for three consecutive days without medication. If the doctor suspects COVID-19, the counselor will work to schedule a test.

If the test proves negative, the above rules apply. If the test is positive, the partners must be symptom-free and stay isolated at home for at least 14 days. They may return following a doctor’s order.

Is Otterbein still accepting admissions?

Please check with the specific community or neighborhood you are interested in to check their admission status.

Is Otterbein conducting tours?

Otterbein is providing video tours of all levels of care and living options. Lifestyle counselors at each location will be able to provide custom video tours upon request. We may be able to hold some independent living tours in person, following safety guidelines.

How is Otterbein communicating to residents and families?

Otterbein is utilizing every vehicle available to communicate with our residents and families. Written letters, phone calls, text messages, emails, and video updates are being provided on a daily basis to keep everyone knowledgeable about what is going on at each of our locations.

How is Otterbein combating social isolation?

With limitations on visitors, it is important that we help our residents connect with their loved ones. Each location has a Skype account for video chats, offers FaceTime sessions via partner phones to those residents without cellphones, delivers written letters, and assists with traditional phone calls, text messages, photo sharing, and social media communication.

Partners are there to assist residents with any support they need to communicate with family in their preferred way.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19 from the CDC.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

The Spirit Connection

Kind words of encouragement can brighten anyone’s day. Send a message to any resident, patient, or staff hero at an Otterbein SeniorLife community today.

Important Health Information From the Ohio Department of Health

Please refer to the Ohio Department of Health website for the latest information on COVID-19. This information will be updated as the situation evolves.

Important Health Information From the Indiana Department of Health

Please refer to the Indiana Department of Health website for the latest information on COVID-19. This information will be updated as the situation evolves.

Information on Social Distancing

If you must go out in public, do your best to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

COVID-19 Vaccination Benefits

COVID-19 vaccines can help protect you and the people around you from catching and spreading the COVID-19 virus. Learn more by downloading our fact sheet.