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LTC facilities push on as pandemic taxes staff, residents

Nursing home employee: ‘It’s really like solitary confinement’

  • Updated
  • 2 min to read
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PREVENTION — Retirement communities like Primrose have put stringent measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced senior-living facilities in the community to adjust protocols, and for many, it is taking a toll.

As part of the demographic that is most vulnerable to COVID-19, retirement communities and long-term care facilities have, for the most part, closed their doors to the public and enacted stringent procedures in order to keep staff and residents healthy. According to Bobbi Bougher, an employee of a local nursing home, the changes have been abundant but necessary.

“There has been a ton of changes,” Bougher said. “Families are not allowed to visit right now. We encourage residents not to leave the facility. They’re eating in their rooms. They’re doing everything in their rooms. They’re really, and what can I say, it’s really like solitary confinement ... It’s for their safety. We do everything for them. We deliver their meals to their rooms now. They can’t come down to the community dining, and they don’t come down to community activities because they can’t come out of their rooms.”

According to Bougher, many of the residents she assists have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, leading to confusion and misunderstandings of the measures that have been taken to ensure their safety. Many, she said, believe COVID-19 is no more than a common cold or simply don’t believe it’s real at all.

Regardless of the hardships faced by facilities such as these, Bougher said that a “resident first” mentality has been adopted by many among the staff at facilities like hers.

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“Now the staff that we have seems extremely dedicated to the residents,” Bougher said. “Some of them you pretty much have to beg them to go home and sleep because they want to stay here, and they want to take care of the residents. They worry about them. They’re like our second family. We’re with them more than we are with our own families. So we get attached to them, and a lot of the people they will call in on their days off and say, ‘Hey, do you need help?’”

According to Primrose Sales Director Joni Delon, the assisted living facility she works at has implemented many precautionary measures to ensure safety among residents, including twice a day screenings of oxygen and temperature levels for both staff and residents and adopting stringent PPE requirements, such as gloves, masks, face shields, and gowns, and staying up to date with the latest CDC requirements.

“Primrose is following the recommendation of the CDC on prevention steps, including following strict handwashing procedures,” Delon said. We are also staying up to date with the CDC recommendations as they are updated. In addition, our regional and community nurses are in close contact with the local and state health departments and are following their guidance.”

Recently, Gov. Eric Holcomb released information detailing that the Indiana National Guard would begin deploying to some of the hardest-hit long-term care facilities to assist with testing, reporting, and health screenings. Beginning on Nov. 16, Waterford Place Heath Campus will be one of these facilities.

According to Director of Communications Brittany Hanson, members of the National Guard will support the facility with “administrative tasks” in order for the staff to focus solely on caring for the residents.