PORTLAND, Ore. — Care facilities are home to some of the most vulnerable people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older people and those with severe chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, are at higher risk of have more severe symptoms from the novel coronavirus, officially called COVID-19.
Tri-county health officials are urging care facilities and hospitals to take extra steps to reduce exposure, such as limiting visitors to two at a time and only allowing those that are healthy to come enter.
"We have been taking precautionary measures to instill confidence in our residents, so that they know that we're on top of it and that we have their safety and their health at the utmost priority," said Julie Marcantuono, resident relations manager for Touchmark in the West Hills.
Touchmark is headquartered in Beaverton and has 13 communities across the United States. The company says they have implemented extra precautions since mid-February.
Touchmark has since notified all staff about the virus and posted signs at all main entrances asking visitors to postpone their visits if they are feeling sick.
Inside their West Hills facility, which is home to 300 residents, staff routinely clean hand-touched surfaces and removed items in communal areas.
"We are just heightening the level with the things that we move in the way of communal things that we would normally have out like newspapers and things like that," Marcantuono says.
In the dining hall, salt and pepper shakers have been replaced with packets and shared menus are stored away, while a larger public menu is displayed.
"I think it's our job as the people in charge of the community and looking out for residents that we remain calm and just be vigilant about everything that we're doing to ensure their safety."