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Nursing homes tighten restrictions

Photo by Janelle Patterson Instructors of the Washington County Career Center nursing aide programs share cheers of encouragement outside the skilled nursing facility Harmar Place in Marietta Wednesday.

Whether your loved one is receiving skilled nursing care at The Arbors, Harmar Place, Heartland or another site in the Marietta area, the protocols to keep them safe have tightened over the past month and a half.

“When this all started we were getting our temperatures checked once per day at the beginning when we came in,” said Jennifer Reed, an occupational therapist at The Arbors.

One of the top reasons for that added security and lockdown is that the early epidemiology studies of COVID-19 show that mortality rates are near 27 percent for those who become infected inside a nursing facility.

Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities were the first to lock down in March as the novel coronavirus began spreading in Ohio.

Heartland of Marietta, a skilled nursing facility located in Devola just outside city corporation limits, had the first confirmed facility with an outbreak of cases this month.

Photo courtesy of Harmar Place Residents of Harmar Place, a skilled nursing facility in Marietta, watch out the windows as visitors from the Washington County Career Center nursing aide programs share cheers of encouragement Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, Washington County reported a cumulative 73 confirmed cases of the virus.

“Now it’s every four hours they check our temperature and we hear the same at the other facilities. Thankfully, our facility doesn’t have positive cases yet,” added fellow Arbors occupational therapist Tonya Johns.

But the pair, like their health care counterparts across the county, are still thankful for the added protection, even if protocols have become more tedious.

“It’s kept up with the state and CDC recommendations,” said Reed.

Those guidelines include allowing no visitors except for end-of-life situations, requiring face coverings for all staff and monitoring ill residents at at least three times daily. There are even detailed guidelines for where to place trash cans for the safest way to discard personal protective equipment. Some facilities, including Heartland, have a separate isolation wing for those impacted.

At Harmar Place on Wednesday, instructors from the Washington County Career Center organized a “thank you” visit to not only brighten the days of the 79 residents there, but also recognize the cooperation of United Church Homes, the facility’s parent company, which allowed the adult State Tested Nurse Aide students to complete their March clinicals.

“That’s critical for our students, both the adult students and the high school program do their clinicals here and we wanted to share our appreciation that we could get that in even after the lockdown,” said Erica Chidester, the adult STNA program manager for WCCC.

Harmar Place Administrator Sue Boulton said the whole facility is locked to anyone not employed there to protect both residents and staff, but the locked doors haven’t stopped communications nor celebrations of life.

“We just had a birthday celebration with one of our residents and we gave her a phone to talk with family on the outside and had a cake with them,” said Boulton.

The facility also has a donation box outside its front door for hand sanitzer drop off, and other essential needs, including face masks.

“And people have dropped those off, each bit helps,” said Boulton.

Residents at the facility Wednesday not only waved and smiled as the visitors paraded about the outside, but also held up greetings of their own.

“Oh, there’s Earth Day coloring pages,” exclaimed Lori Smith, marketing coordinator for WCCC, behind her face mask. “This is so beautiful.”

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

Nursing home donations needed:

– Hand sanitizer.

– N-95 masks.

– Surgery masks.

– Isolation/procedure masks.

– Face shields.

– Homemade cloth masks.

– Medical protective eyewear/goggles.

– Isolation gowns.

– Medical exam gloves (all sizes).

– Medical coveralls.

Source: Harmar Place.

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