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Nursing homes trying to cope

Nursing homes trying to cope Nursing homes trying to cope

For nursing home residents and the staff that care for them, the coronavirus crackdown has hit hard. Not only are visitors prohibited, the employees must submit to daily health screenings to make sure they are not carrying a virus that is particularly deadly for older people with pre-existing health conditions.

In response, local nursing homes are doing what they can to keep their residents entertained and at least somewhat connected to the outside world.

Courtney Bahr, assistant director of The Waterford at Colby, said it’s been “rough” for the facility’s 45 residents, but they’ve become more understanding of the visitor restrictions as time goes by.

Through the use of Facetime and other online apps, residents can still see and speak with relatives who are not allowed to visit them in person. Visitors can also stop by and talk through the window with residents, but Bahr asks that people call ahead of time if they want to do that.

Bahr said daily activities have become a top priority for staff and residents, who are in need of something to do during a lockdown that started two weeks ago.

COVID-19 is also taking a toll on the facility’s staff, who don’t have the luxury of staying at home.

Betty Rettig, a cook at The Waterford for the past six years, says she has to worry about the COVID virus both at work and at home, as her husband suffers from COPD, asthma and diabetes.

She said her’s husband’s lung function is already down to 37 percent, so he’s at a very high risk if he contracts the virus.

“This would kill him,” she said.

At the same time, she feels obligated to come into work every day to help provide meals to the residents at her facility.

“I want to be here for the residents, because I’ve come to love and care for them,” she said.

However, Rettig is also worried about her husband, who has not left the house in days and is getting depressed.

“He’s feeling cooped up,” she said.

Like everyone, Rettig is desperately waiting for the pandemic to subside.

“It’s hard, and I just wish it would go away,” she said.

Trudy Erickson, director of Colonial Center in Colby, said her staff is getting creative in order to keep their 55 residents both active and safe. As an example, she says they’ve been playing “hallway Bingo,” which allows residents to maintain a six-foot separation from each other by staying in the doorway of their rooms.

Like all other nursing home facilities, Erickson said Colonial Center’s 95 employees undergo health screenings multiple times a day, and if they show signs of a fever, they are sent home right away.

The very few visitors who are allowed in — for emergencies or other exceptional situations — must wear a mask and be accompanied by a staff member at all times, she said.

Erickson said they are using their Facebook page to keep their residents’ loved ones updated, and Facetime to provide direct communications.

Shelly Bender, director of Country Terrace in Abbotsford, said they’ve reached out to all of their residents’ family members to let them know how they’re doing.

“We’re doing good and keeping morale up,” she said.

Mike Wenzel, director of Abbotsford Healthcare Center, said they are following the lead of other facilities and allowing visits through the windows.

“One good thing about this is a lot of the facilities are sharing ideas on how to get through it,” he said.