Shirley Barnes, CEO of Crest View Senior Communities, wishes the media would spend less time and space focusing on the number of coronavirus deaths and more on the survivors of the pandemic. “What doesn’t get reported are the recoveries,” she said recently.
Barnes, who has worked in the health care industry for 40 years, said she had 14 COVID-19 patients in her facilities as of May 27, all of them residents in the advanced dementia care wing at Crest View Lutheran Home, 4444 Reservoir Blvd. NE., Columbia Heights. None of Crest View’s other senior living communities have any active cases of the virus. “We have two people waiting for their last negative COVID test,” she said. “If they have two negative tests and no symptoms, they move off the COVID unit and back to their rooms.”
“It [coronavirus] came to us late,” she said. “We were fortunate to be able to get personal protective equipment and have it on hand.” She noted the equipment is still hard to get, and said disinfection wipes were the most sorely needed item.
“We, by the grace of God, are doing better than many [senior care facilities],” she said. “At some point, most of us are going to be on the [Minnesota Department of Health’s Congregate Care Exposures] list.”
Barnes said the staff at Crest View is taking “every precaution” to prevent the disease from spreading. When patients come to the nursing home from a hospital, they are placed in a separate area to make sure they are not symptomatic. Staff who care for COVID patients enter a separate door in the facility, and they exit through a separate door. Staff have their temperatures taken when they report for work; residents have their temperatures take twice a day and their oxygen levels are measured by a pulse oximeter.
Crest View has instituted a hotline where families can listen to a daily update to “see what’s new in COVIDland,” Barnes said. “We still don’t know everything there is to know about COVID-19, but we’re strong together. We’ll get through this.”
Barnes said the disease comes with a great emotional toll for families, patients and caregivers. “We have always felt like an extension of family; now we are family.”
Enrichment staff are spending more one-on-one time with patients who can’t have visitors because of the pandemic. They also set appointments for residents to chat with their families over FaceTime. If residents don’t have an iPad, it’s provided to them.
Asked what people from the community could do to help, Barnes said more washable cloth masks are needed for residents. “Our fire and police departments have done a wonderful job collecting them for us, but we still need more.” She said puzzles, books to read, and books of Sodoku puzzles, find-a-word games and crosswords would also be welcome.
Asked about coronavirus cases at New Perspective Senior Living, 3801 Hart Blvd NE, Marketing Coordinator Stacy Shuman said in an email, “We had two part-time team members back in mid-April test positive for COVID-19. They had contracted the virus from a roommate outside of our building. Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 in the building.”
Barnes said she had one more request: “It’s a very small thing. Please, wear a mask.”