It Was A Mother’s Day Like No Other

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Frightening stories are being told about nursing homes around the country. reports that routine health and safety inspections at nursing homes have been suspended by the federal government to protect against any additional exposure to workers and residents. Families who often watch out for their loved ones, who are nursing home residents, are no longer allowed in the facilities and are worried about what type of care is being provided by overworked staff members. Necessary personal protection equipment and sanitizing supplies are not always available in nursing homes, and some are understaffed. And, of course, the residents are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19. 
Four nursing homes contacted in Benton County revealed that although they are still feeling the stress of quarantine, residents are generally adjusting to restrictions and staff members are working hard to provide entertaining diversions. There are no COVID-19 cases of residents or staff, and efforts are made for families and residents to communicate through window visits, cell phones and other technology.
Jennifer Ledom, Administrator of Warsaw Health and Rehabilitation, said that residents were treated to a Mother’s Day parade in the parking lot of the center on May 10. The vehicles of family and friends lined up and paraded in front of residents who were taken outside with masks and blankets and kept six feet apart. Many vehicles were decorated with signs and flowers. 
Ledom said that residents are having a Disney Week beginning May 10, with Disney movies showing and virtual reality glasses available for those who want to experience Disney rides. 
“Our staff has been taken care of too,” said Ledom. “We had a pot-luck dinner and gave out gifts last week during Nurses Week. This week the staff got t-shirts and the community gave us a lot of support too. Each staff member got hand-made cards with a Hershey bar and $10 in each card. Girl Scout cookies were delivered and one resident’s family member sent in pizza.”
Ledom said that they are very vigilant. No one gets into the center without being screened and being permitted by the administrator or medical director.
Dorothy Graves, LPN Assistant Manager of Ambrose Park Residential Care Facility, said that family members are allowed to bring things to residents, but these gifts are sanitized before being passed on to anyone.
“Family is such a big part of life here, and being isolated is difficult,” said Graves. “Staff tries to be upbeat, and are now into our new routine. At first it was pretty hairy. It is so much different to push trays of food to a dining table compared to delivering them to individual rooms. Most patients have adjusted. We don’t want anyone to feel isolated.  I am really surprised at how well they have adapted. They have actually been healthier since we had to limit being around people.”
Lincoln Community Care Center Administrator, Sheryl LaFavor, said that the activities director had a day full of fun things to do on Mother’s Day. Each lady resident was given a carnation, and everyone got to watch a parade of miniature horses outside of the building.
“Residents are adjusting to restrictions,” said LaFabor. “They have video chats with family members and can visit with family members through windows by talking on cell phones. Staff is at full strength and no one has COVID-19 symptoms. Even when phase three of the reopening takes place, nursing homes will still have some restrictions.  It won’t return to normal right away.”
LaFavor said that staff is checked for fever every day and is questioned weekly to see if anyone might pose a risk at the facility.
Good Samaritan Care Center in Cole Camp had a big Mother’s Day and Quarantine Parade on May 10. Acting Director Chasity Hall said that 60 plus cars took part in the parade that included family, friends and members of the community. Included in the parade was a fire truck and llamas belonging to the family of a resident.
“The cars were decorated,” said Hall. “And when the parade opened up on Hwy 52, other people driving by began honking their horns in support. We had brought the residents outside to sit in chairs six feet apart.”
Hall said that Good Samaritan’s 48 residents were adjusting for the most part to restrictions. They are allowed to do window visits quite a bit, but seeing a loved one through a piece of glass is just not enough. She said that the hair dresser that used to come to the Care Center doesn’t come, but Hall curls ladies’ hair for them.
“We are fully staffed,” said Hall. “Everyone on staff wears masks and has temperatures taken. We want to celebrate our staff, especially since it was Nurses Week last week, but we are going to wait until we can do it big.”