Rehab Select Blog

Understanding the Risks of COVID-19 Exposure to Rehab Patients

Posted by Bobby Stephenson

Apr 2, 2020 12:12:02 PM

Covid-19 Protection

Right now, we’re experiencing an unprecedented experience together as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many of us share feelings of uncertainty, we can find proactive ways to minimize our exposure and to be encouraged by the discoveries that are being made every day. We can find comfort in the many proven strategies to combat the virus together.

One fact researchers do know is that certain populations appear to be at higher risk when exposed to the virus, especially seniors living in long-term facilities. It’s important that these facilities follow stringent safety measures to reduce the risks of exposure to vulnerable residents as much as possible.

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Rehab Select’s Approach

The staff at Rehab Select places the highest priority on the health and wellbeing of you and your loved ones. While we have strict cautionary policies in place, such as visitor restrictions and restricted visitation protocols, we want you to know that we’re surrounding your loved ones with support and compassion.

We’re following all local and federal mandates, and we’re also trying to find creative ways to enrich our residents’ experiences while they’re in restricted visitation. You can rest assured knowing their needs are being met during this time.

Who Does COVID-19 Exposure Put at Risk?

Research shows men and women over 65 and anyone with pre-existing health conditions are at the highest risk for serious illness from the coronavirus. Any condition that compromises the immune system also puts adults and children at risk for complications.

The risk of exposure and spread seems to be amplified by the number of other people one comes in contact with on a daily basis. In an inpatient rehabilitation facility, in particular, the number of visitors, staff, and residents in close proximity creates unique challenges, especially without proper precautions.

This is why strategies like “social distancing” and “sheltering in place” are so imperative. The less exposure we all have to the germs that cause the virus, the more easily we can minimize the spread.

The Dangers of the Coronavirus

Early reports about the virus seemed to erroneously indicate that COVID-19 was no worse than the flu.

This misconstrued understanding of the virus has two major pitfalls: one being research indicates that the virus may have over a 20 times higher death rate (3.5%) than the flu (0.1%). The second problem is that this undermines the fact that the common flu can also be a major risk for people over 65.

Flu-related hospitalizations and deaths are a serious concern for seniors that shouldn’t be dismissed. As we age, our body’s immune defenses weaken, leaving us less able to fight off seasonal bugs, let alone serious new respiratory viruses.

Further, COVID-19 seems to have some symptoms that can complicate a patient’s health, including:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Progression to pneumonia

The breathing problems associated with coronavirus are of particular concern. Troubles breathing can lead to hospitalization and the need for oxygen and mechanical ventilation.

To further complicate matters, coronavirus is highly contagious. It can last on surfaces for several days and be transmitted through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. Symptoms don’t always appear right away either, so you can unknowingly spread the virus before you’re aware you have it.

Considering those dangers and the lack of current treatment or vaccinations available for the virus, you can see how the illness can pose a major threat to people everywhere, but to seniors in particular.

Current State and Federal Mandates in Alabama

The seriousness of this pandemic has caused many local and federal organizations to issue isolation orders for its citizens. These efforts are meant to protect residents, minimize the spread of the virus, and prevent detrimental overwhelm upon our healthcare system.

As of March 30, 2020, the most current orders in place in Alabama from Governor Ivey include:

  • No group gatherings over 25 people
  • Maintain a 6-foot distance between non-household members
  • Food and drink establishments may provide take-out only
  • All beaches are closed
  • Non-essential visitor restrictions at long-term care facilities

These orders are based upon ongoing consultations among elected leaders and recommendations from experts and government health agencies.

How To Help Minimize Risk

Long-term care and rehab centers pose unique health concerns given their setting as a shared residency. They should be taking extra precautions, such as enforcing restricted visitation measures.

Although restricted visitation isn’t an ideal measure, socially speaking, it’s the best solution possible to protect you and your family members. To minimize the dangers of COVID-10, the CDC also recommends the following precautions:

  • Active screenings of residents, staff, and visitors for illness
  • Properly stocking sinks and hand sanitizer stations
  • Restricting visitors and minimizing communal activities
  • Avoiding all non-essential contact
  • Ensuring proper supplies and equipment are on-hand
  • Enforcing strict protocols for sanitization and protective equipment
  • Providing leave accommodations for sick staff members

The health and safety of residents is the top priority of Rehab Select. That being said, we are also taking steps to provide social support and help manage the stress and boredom associated with restricted visitation.

What Does This Mean for You and Your Loved One?

Due to the severity of this pandemic, it’s important to stay home and find other means of connecting with your loved ones. Although the coronavirus has taken us into uncharted territory that seems to change by the hour, the health of you and your family is the top priority, and many people have found creative ways to adapt.

One way to connect with a loved one when you can’t be there physically is to set up video chats and messages. Your inpatient facility may be able to help you set up video conferencing to stay in contact with your family members.

If you have concerns about entertainment or comfort, you may be able to arrange for books, puzzles, comfort items, and other materials to be delivered to your loved one. Here's a list of entertaining activities your family member can enjoy from their own room.

See How Rehab Select Facilities Are Adapting to Visitation Restrictions

Rehab Select Shelby Ridge Window Visits


The amazing people of the Alabaster Community came out to window visit residents at Rehab Select Shelby Ridge. The residents and staff are also having fun with different art and crafts, a little throwback to the 70’s, and dancing in the hallways!

Rehab Select Hillview Terrace Cookie Delivery

Cookie Delivery-1

The staff at Rehab Select Hillview Terrace treated residents to chocolate chip cookies while visitation restrictions are in place. Residents have also enjoyed hallway bingo, cupcake day, and more!

Barfield Health Care Brings in Furry Friends

Dog Visits

The staff at Barfield Health Care put a smile on residents faces when they brought in their dogs and furry friends recently. Residents stay busy with window visits, popcorn deliveries, and getting ice cream from the ice cream truck. The residents and staff also busted a move for their dance party, check out the video!

Facts About Inpatient Rehab Versus Outpatient Therapy

Topics: Covid-19