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Fairfax County to reopen Adult Day Health Care program after 18-month hiatus

The Lewinsville Center in McLean (via Fairfax County Government)

Fairfax County will soon offer in-person adult day health care services for the first time since they were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

The Adult Day Health Care program announced on Thursday (Aug. 5) that the Lewinsville center (1611 Great Falls Street) will reopen on Aug. 23, followed by the Herndon Harbor (875 Grace Street), Lincolnia (4710 North Chambliss Street), and Mount Vernon (8350 Richmond Highway) centers on Sept. 7.

“We are confidently and safely reopening at this time and look forward to welcoming our participants back home,” Adult Day Health Care Program Manager Natalia Giscombe-Simons said in a statement. “This pandemic has taken a toll on older adults. After so much time in isolation, our participants will be able to enjoy the social, health and wellness benefits of our service once again.”

Adult Day Health Care provides therapeutic, recreational, and social activities during the day for adults with physical and cognitive disabilities, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Relatively high vaccination rates, particularly among senior residents, convinced the county’s Adult Day Health Care leaders that this would be the right time to bring the program back, according to the announcement on the Caregiver Insights blog.

As of yesterday (Sunday), 64.6% of Fairfax Health District residents have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, including more than 92% of adults between 65 and 84 years of age. About 80% of people in the 55-64 and 85-plus age groups have received a dose.

According to the program website, the availability of staff factored into the reopening schedule as well. When the centers closed last year, most Adult Day Health Care workers were reassigned to support the Fairfax County Health Department’s COVID-19 response, assisting with testing, vaccinations, and other needs.

“Now, the pandemic response operation is able to release these staff members back to Adult Day Health Care to continue their work with the service,” the county website says.

The Lewinsville center will open sooner than the others because it is the biggest space, making it the most appropriate facility for a two-week pilot period to implement the program’s new health and safety protocols, according to the county.

When the centers reopen, face masks will be required for both participants and staff. Fairfax County announced on Friday (Aug. 6) that masks are now mandatory in all county facilities, effective today (Monday).

The centers will also follow social distancing guidelines and further emphasize cleaning and health monitoring, according to the blog post:

The Centers always followed a strict protocol for deep cleaning and disinfection of its centers, but now this has been elevated even more to include enhanced cleaning of high contact areas, door handles, counter tops, hand railings, and other high-touch areas in between center activities. Hand sanitizer stations are located throughout the centers, with distribution occurring regularly. The centers are professionally cleaned each night.

Health care monitoring, another Adult Day Health Care program cornerstone, is also elevated with new procedures in place to ensure there is no infection spread should a participant fall ill. Additionally, caregivers will be required to complete a daily health screen for the participant each day they are at the center.

The Adult Day Health Care program says that “almost all” of its staff are vaccinated. Vaccinations are “highly encouraged” but not required for either employees or participants at this time.

Enrollment will be limited by the health and safety protocols, but the program will permit single-day enrollments, as opposed to the usual two-day minimum, to accommodate as many people as possible.

The county says the program’s activities will largely be unchanged, but there will be no volunteer-led activities, and family members won’t be allowed to join participants for lunch or activities.

“We will adapt this policy as needed in the future,” the Adult Day Health Care website says.

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