Contractors and Scientists Partner to Reduce COVID-19 in Senior Living Communities

January 22, 2021

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear how ill-prepared our country’s senior living facilities were to control the spread of disease and keep their residents and staff safe. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 40 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and among their residents, an average of 21 percent have died, compared with 3 percent who have died of the disease among the general population. As of early January 2021, 133,350 U.S. COVID-19 deaths had been linked to long-term care facilities, with 30,977 facilities so far affected.

Recognizing the extreme vulnerability of these residents and workers, Consolidated Contracting has stepped forward to address this dire situation by forming strategic partnerships with select industry leaders and scientists to develop a comprehensive, four-step approach to healthy building design and remodeling. It is the first detailed program of its kind in the country being administered by the company’s newly established division, Consolidated Building Health. 

“Assisted living facility operators, developers and investors have been grappling with the need to keep residents and staff better protected, while members of the public have been struggling with decisions about whether they’re willing to risk placing their aging parents and grandparents in long-care facilities altogether,” said Joseph Troya, principal of Consolidated Contracting. “We knew we had to meet this moment for our clients by bringing solutions to the table not only for the current COVID crisis, but also for future emerging diseases that inevitably will affect senior living communities in the decades to come.” 

Consolidated Building Health’s four-step process includes evaluating existing facilities and the needs of new ones; designing optimal disease containment mechanisms; implementing procurement and construction; and certifying the facility once it’s completed, based on a detailed point rating system. The process examines custodial procedures, equipment and devises, administrative and engineering controls, and interior and exterior improvements. 

The division leaders have created a detailed guide for protocols, treatments, layout and design, and various other elements that count toward achieving certification. Facilities earning 51-75 are given an “A” rating, those with 76-100 receive an “AA” rating, and an AAA rating is awarded to facilities that earn 101 points and above. With this certification, members of the public seeking to place their elderly loved ones in senior living communities and nursing homes can be assured that these facilities meet the highest standards for health and safety. 

“When we began developing this program, we knew it was essential to partner with the most qualified experts in the field, each of whom would bring specific expertise and deep knowledge of the operation of assisted living facilities and disease containment,” said Matt Elias-Calles, a Project Manager with Consolidated Contracting and Division Leader of Consolidated Building Health. “We’ve successfully engaged a stellar team of individuals who have committed themselves long-term to our mission to promote safer and healthier environments by integrating valuable scientific concepts into every project.” 

Elias-Calles is a skilled project manager who has successfully led the completion of numerous complex projects, including an award-winning LEED Platinum-certified facility in 2019. He recently became a Fitwel-certified Ambassador and recognizes the importance of healthy buildings. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in business from Vanguard University and is OSHA-30 Certified.

Consolidated Contracting tapped Alan Ursillo to serve as Director of Healthcare for Consolidated Building Health. With more than 20 years of experience working in the senior living market, Ursillo is a proven industry leader with deep knowledge of facility operations management and administration. His experience includes the acquisition and disposition of both domestic and international senior housing portfolios, commercial real estate sales and lending.

“Facility owners and managers have looked to trusted contractors and partners to help them navigate the myriad challenges they now face to keep residents and employees safe,” said Ursillo. “Some companies, such as HVAC firms, have offered partial, interim solutions, but we’re now able to provide an all-inclusive program that addresses every aspect of disease control, backed by science and supported by top health experts and agencies. We can do so without adding substantial cost to a project when we’re brought aboard during the planning and design phase, and at a reasonable cost when asked to retrofit an existing facility.” 

 

Jill Black has been named Industrial Hygienist for Consolidated Building Health. For more than 20 years, she has served as Senior EHS Manager at HP Inc. With a Masters of public health, industrial hygiene and epidemiology, she has 32 years of experience as an Environmental Health & Safety professional. She also brings to the team expertise in information technology, operations management, emergency management, facility management and environmental impacts.

“Good building design that integrates health and the environment, yet maintains flexibility, is one of the best forward-looking steps an owner can take,” said Black. “By integrating infection control in all aspects of the design, senior facilities will be better able to weather both a pandemic or a more localized outbreak. It’s all about keeping our seniors safe, cared for and united with friends and family.”

Rounding out the Consolidated Building Health team is Jason Shuster, AIA, founder of Shuster360, the leading spend management solutions provider to the senior care market, offering technology and services that improve savings and compliance. Prior to founding Shuster360, he was the Executive Vice President of Project Administration for a nationally recognized interior design and procurement firm, where he was instrumental in the successful implementation of its proprietary project management platform. Before his promotion, he was the Executive Vice President of Sales at this firm, where he was charged with architecting the business development strategy and leading a series of strategic initiatives, including departmental reorganization, new product development, software implementation and pricing strategy.

While Consolidated Building Health will concentrate on senior living communities in the short term, many of its same processes and principles can be applied toward designing, building or remodeling schools and other public facilities where the spread of disease is a common concern. The company’s primary geographical market is Southern California. 

“COVID has caused the greatest tragedy our country has seen in more than a century with the Spanish Flu, and individuals living and working in senior living communities have been disproportionately impacted,” said Troya. “We’re currently working with new and existing clients to help them plan for events like this pandemic so they’re better prepared to deal with them. With human impact on wildlife ever increasing, we’re certain to have more emerging diseases from hereon. We want the senior living community to know we are here to help in whatever capacity they need us to ensure the safety of their residents and staff, now and in the future.”

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