Dear Residents and Families of Birch Bay Retirement Village,
Last week, we notified you that one of our non-health care staff members has tested positive for COVID-19. The staff member began quarantining immediately and determined this staff member had no close contact with Birch Bay residents. The staff member remained asymptomatic and returned to work following CDC guidance.
Under the guidance of the CDC and State of Maine DHHS, Birch Bay Village determined that we needed to scale back our re-opening plan and perform two rounds of subsequent COVID-19 universal testing of all our residents and staff in order to verify this was an isolated case.
We are pleased to share that the results of our first round of universal testing of all staff and residents has been completed and all results are negative. Our second round of universal testing began yesterday and will be completed on Monday.
At this time, Birch Bay must continue to temporarily suspend visitation, off campus travel, and group dining and activities. We know that residents and families are disappointed by thus news but in an effort to protect the health of our residents, staff, and community we need to remain vigilant during this challenging time. We hope to have more promising news next week.
Throughout the pandemic, Birch Bay has strived for transparency in everything we do. However, please know that we are bound by federal guidelines under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protect the privacy of our residents and staff. However, we will notify you in the event that we have any concerns about your loved one having suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
In light of the recent asymptomatic staff member testing positive; I have received several questions regarding vaccination of staff. We have been fortunate that almost all our staff have been eager to be vaccinated. Even with vaccination, not everyone is immune from contracting COVID-19. The Moderna vaccine used at Birch Bay is 94% effective in preventing infection; however, the remaining 6% of fully vaccinated individuals remain susceptible to infection by COVID-19. The vaccine remains 100% effective in preventinig serious illness or death in fully vaccinated individuals. Prevention of serious illness or death is the goal of the vaccination program. In my conversations with Maine CDC of note is that there have been several fully vaccinated individuals that have tested positive since vaccination efforts began in Maine. In all these cases, the individuals remained asymptomatic or had very mild symptoms. Although it appears, fully vaccinated individuals may not transmit infection as easily as unvaccinated individual until more is known fully vaccinated persons should continue to observe social distancing, masking guidelines, and frequent handwashing.
Vaccination efforts continue in full swing for health care workers and adults over the age of 50 here in the State of Maine. If you are able to get a vaccination, we encourage you to get vaccinated. Please remember that even after you do get vaccinated, we all need to continue to protect ourselves and others by wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Peter Sullivan, Executive Director, Birch Bay Retirement Village