Valley senior living facilities staying vigilant with COVID-19 delta variant on the rise

While some senior care facilities are requiring vaccines for workers, other facilities are simply staying on top of COVID-19 protocols.

The Summit at Sundland Springs in the East Valley has been COVID-free since Christmas after struggling with two terrifying outbreaks already.

"It's nice to have families back. It's nice to see your residents out and about, but there is definitely some noise in regard to this new delta variant," said Kristie Stark, the executive director.

But the facility is better prepared this time around. From temperature checks and COVID questionnaires to mandatory masks and virtually, all the residents are fully vaccinated.

However, if they do find a case, they'll "bring out the bunny suits, the PPE, and we isolate and try to minimize the effects as much as possible."

But in many facilities across the state, getting workers to get a shot can be a sticky situation, especially with staff shortages already a prickly subject.

"They are some of the most, least vaccinated population even though they're having direct care with vulnerable adults so that obviously has implications. Staff person test positive, they can unknowingly give COVID to a resident," said Dana Marie Kennedy, executive director of AARP.

The Summit isn't requiring vaccines for staff, but more education and encouragement, with painful lessons learned not that long ago.

"I also know how quickly that can change. It's just a constant reminder of the staff every day. We need to stay the course, we're not out of this yet," Stark said.

Between July 25 and Aug. 1, COVID-19 cases at nursing homes nationwide were at 38%, but that's still far below the levels we saw last year.

Brookdale Senior Living, which has multiple locations in the Valley, is mandating vaccinations for employees.

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