Benchmark's Coronavirus Update

April 22, 2020

Benchmark is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as the health and safety of our residents and associates remain our top priority. COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge to our national healthcare system that many organizations are facing, and Benchmark is acting aggressively to meet it. 

We are working closely with leading medical professionals and other experts as well as following state and federal guidelines, including from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to limit transmission of the disease. Amongst others, internationally-renowned physician, Gavin Macgregor-Skinner, BVSc, MSc, MPH, MRCVS, an epidemiologist with more than 25 years of technical experience in emergency management and infectious disease surveillance and response, is assisting our company in addressing the challenges we face in this highly dynamic environment. Dr. Macgregor-Skinner is the director of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council and is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine.

All of our associates are also required to wear masks at all times when working in any of our 62 communities. Additionally, gloves are required when interacting directly with residents. For those communities who have been impacted because either a resident or associate has tested positive, we are isolating residents who have tested positive as well as quarantining any resident who has had direct exposure to anyone who has tested positive. Isolated or quarantined residents are receiving care from associates wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Additionally, with foresight, over the last month, we took several steps and preventative measures both at each of our communities and throughout our entire organization, including the following:

• We reduced the amount of exposure that our memory care residents and associates have to one another and others. Our memory care neighborhoods have a single entrance, where possible; designated staff that exclusively work in this area, and meals are delivered in a way that reduces the risk of cross-contamination.
• We were one of the first to begin limiting, restricting and screening visitors and associates at our communities to reduce our residents’ exposure. Only carefully screened healthcare providers, private caregivers and family members who are part of a care plan, and the loved ones of residents who are receiving end of life care are permitted to visit.  

• We eliminated all large group activities, including programming and dining. All residents, except those in memory care, are receiving in-room meals. Our programming team is working diligently to continue to support our residents’ interests with individualized activities as well as to facilitate virtual visits using tablets that have been deployed across all of our communities and regular phone calls.

• We suspended all new resident move-ins until further notice. 

• We required associates who test positive, have had direct exposure to anyone who has tested positive or has symptoms to stay home. Any associate who is on leave is being paid out of Benchmark’s COVID-19 Associate Sick Bank rather than being required to use accrued time.

• We increased our associate training and began carefully monitoring and screening our associates, including taking their temperature before their shift begins. 

• We began and continue to perform escalated deep cleaning activities using specialized, recommended products to help control infection from occurring, including all communities receiving the application of a non-toxic, CDC-approved spray. 

• We increased wages for front-line associates in select affected communities, added additional shifts with premium pay and increased our benefits, including adding a childcare stipend, work transportation and complimentary meals. 

• Our Benchmark One Company Fund continues to be a resource for all Benchmark associates facing unforeseen financial challenges during these difficult times.

Every resident, family member and associate are an essential part of the Benchmark family, and we will continue to uphold their health and safety above all, monitoring the situation and elevating our plans as necessary. 

Please feel free to reach out to your local Benchmark community or email with any questions or concerns or click here to find answers to frequently asked questions. 

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