On Thursday evening, March 19, during a physical examination mandated by ALEH’s extreme sterilization protocols, it was determined that a staff member at ALEH’s residential and rehabilitative center in Gedera had contracted Coronavirus (COVID-19) from an unknown source outside the facility. The staff member was immediately quarantined, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare was called to determine the best course of action for dealing with the 30 other people who had come into contact with her during the previous days, including the ward’s seven other workers and the 23 residents in their care.
Working together with Naama Sudkewitz, the director of the ALEH center, and ALEH administrator Moshe Seville, the unit from the IDF’s Home Front Command worked with the Ministry of Health and Welfare to carefully weigh the options available for the group’s isolation or evacuation, taking into account the complexity of transporting the residents with their extensive medical equipment. It was decided that the best option would be to create a quarantine zone within the facility by removing the furnishings from the administrative wing, disinfecting the offices from floor to ceiling and reconfiguring the ward within the newly sterilized space. The ALEH administration contacted the parents of all 23 residents requiring quarantine, and it was agreed that this was the best course of action.
Dressed in head-to-toe protective gear, the Home Front Command unit expertly carried out their plan, sterilizing the area and moving all of the residents and their specialized medical equipment into the makeshift ward. For the safety of all involved, the ALEH staff agreed to remain with and care for the residents for the entirety of the 14-day quarantine period.
Following an initial round of testing by the Home Front Command, the Ministry of Health and Welfare determined that the other 165 people in the facility, including 115 residents and 50 staff members, had not been infected and did not require quarantine. In accordance with ALEH’s extreme sterilization protocols, they had been operating out of an entirely separate wing and had not come into contact with anyone from the ward in question for more than a week.
Over the weekend, all 31 people in quarantine – residents and staff – were kept under strict surveillance and were tested extensively to rule out infection. On Sunday afternoon, March 22, the test results concluded that six of the residents had contracted Coronavirus. The ALEH administrators are currently speaking with local hospitals to find an intensive care unit that has room for the six residents. The staff members who worked with these six residents have been removed from the rotation and are now undergoing additional testing.
In addition to keeping the parents of all residents informed via hourly updates, ALEH is working diligently secure additional resources from the government in order to halt the further spread of virus. As previously stated, an enhanced level of partnership from the government is crucial if we are to succeed in this extremely urgent life-saving mission – we simply cannot do this alone.
Additional updates will follow. Your thoughts, prayers and continued support is greatly appreciated.
The needs of our ALEH children cannot be put on hold.
Public support is more important than ever to guarantee that our residents receive their daily respiratory treatments, their many specialized therapies that are critical to their care and development, and the medications and formulas that are not included in Israel’s health basket. With events, visitors, and fundraising meetings on hold, these vital services are in danger.
Though our ALEH residents are being distanced from the public to safeguard their health, it is essential that they never feel alone.