Matt Walton Speaks to Rotary Regarding Local Nursing Home Respons to COVID

“Keeping our residents safe is our top priority,” Autumn Leaves Nursing & Rehabilitation Center administrator Matt Walton told Winnfield Rotarians at their Aug. 18 meeting as part of his report on how this local nursing home has responded to the Covid pandemic since it first appeared early in 2020.

Autumn Leaves’ preparations and response to the virus have seen results far better than reports from some other homes, he said. “The most positive cases we’ve ever had at one time has been eight. We’ve been blessed.”

One likely reason for the low incident rates is the fact that by standard practice all residents have private rooms. Should one patient be tested as positive, they may continue to be served safely in their own room. If other cases occur, a second level of safety isolation comes into play: Autumn Leaves’ Covid Isolation Unit. At the isolation unit, staff members enter and exit through separate doors and do not come into the main area of the nursing home. And while reports continue to come out that perhaps it’s allowable to reduce isolation time from first exposure from the original 14 days to 10 or even 7, Walton says Autumn Leaves continues to hold to the 14-day precaution.

He also said that an open-air area with plexiglass partitions has been constructed on the activity patio for visitation while tablets for FaceTime communication were provided for residents during the period when only window visits were available.

While several vaccines are now available to all Americans, many have chosen not to be vaccinated due to fear, the uncertainty of mixed messages, politics or other. This is also true within nursing homes, Walton told Rotarians that there is a growing acceptance for the vaccination within the nursing home community. For the most part, residents who can make their own decisions have opted for the vaccine. Most of those few who remain unvaccinated depend on their families to make those decisions.

Following the first months with Covid lockdowns, cases were reduced and visitation measures at Autumn Leaves were relaxed though still tightly monitored. The number of visitors is limited and all must sign in at the front foyer desk. Temperatures are checked, hands sanitized, recent health questions asked and masks donned.

The speaker confirmed that with the new variant of Covid, “Yes, you can get it a second time, even if you’ve had the immunization.” Transmission of the virus seems to happen mostly through the air, not so much transmitted on surfaces, as first feared. The effectiveness of masks in all situations for all ages is still uncertain. One, two or three doses of vaccine?

One thing is certain, Walton concluded. “Health matters. Healthier people will generally handle this better. At Autumn Leaves we are going to continue to follow the directives of the CDC, CMS, and the Louisiana Department of Health, focusing on the Core Principles of COVID-19 Infection Prevention in order to ensure that we are Improving Quality of Life for all of our residents every day.”

The Rotary Club of Winnfield meets every Wednesday at Noon for lunch at Lynda’s Country Kitchen. For more information about the Rotary Club of Winnfield, you may contact President, Jodi Taylor (832) 573-5085. You can also find club information on Facebook at Rotary Club of Winnfield Facebook Page or online at

Pictured above: Matt Walton spoke to Autumn Leaves’ response to Covid over the past 18 months of the pandemic. Shown with him is Robin Wisonant, director of nursing.

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