Commentary: Knute Nelson safeguards residents, staff

By Mark Anderson, president/CEO of Knute Nelson, Alexandria, MN

Every day we are inundated with information from a myriad of sources about the coronavirus (COVID-19). For months now at Knute Nelson, we have been preparing for the eventual spread of COVID-19. We have enacted a multitude of precautions out of concern for the safety and well-being of those we serve and our staff – and the focused attention on their safety and well-being will continue far beyond the virus.

We have the privilege of caring for older adults in a wide variety of settings, including our home and community-based services (home care and hospice) as well as in our residential buildings. Upon early notice of the potential impact COVID-19 could have in our communities, we took several immediate steps out of precaution to safeguard our residents and staff.

We wanted to share a few of these highlights, including:

  • Restricting visitors at all locations to enter any residential building unless there are certain end-of-life situations. This includes volunteer and entertainment services.

  • Screening all visitors and staff who enter any residential building and requiring them to meet stringent visit protocols.

  • Temporarily closing all community spaces to the public, including the Nelson Wellness Center and Pioneer Grill.

  • Encouraging residents to refrain from leaving their apartments and/or defined, designated areas.

  • Enacting masking, dining and social distancing recommendations for residents and staff.

  • Implementing key clinical protocols to ensure resident safety and well-being. We have been working closely with the area hospitals to ensure common understanding of safety measures being provided, treatment and areas for isolation in the event of an outbreak.

  • Keeping residents and their families as well as staff regularly informed and educated on COVID-19 and encouraging good hygiene.

These decisions are not easy as we recognize how valuable family and community connections are; however, we have done this for the safety of everyone concerned.
The Minnesota Department of Health reports that as of April 6, the majority of cases are among those living in private residences. Long-term care facilities are yet another source where cases are located; however, not in the majority.


We’ve always been a mission-driven organization and know the vital importance of our work caring for those we serve as well as other staff. Throughout this time, we’ve become even more laser-focused on what this truly means — and are grateful for our teams who are providing courageous leadership and care especially during times we’re experiencing now.

At the same time, we have expanded options to keep loved ones connecting by introducing an KN e-Konnect program that our staff facilitate. We have increased one-to-one activities, held activities following social distancing recommendations, increased our music and spiritual care programming to name a few. Our staff are continuously introducing creative ways to keep residents engaged as best we’re able during this time.

We will continue to be vigilant with our efforts. Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

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