A side effect of coronavirus was the restrictions placed on nursing homes that disconnected residents from their loved ones. Many of these businesses in the Jackson metro area had to close their doors, allowing no visitors. Now, the vaccine is allowing businesses to reopen to friends and family.
Three weeks ago, Home Place, a nursing home in Ridgeland, was not allowing any visits.
“We were basically shut down for about 10 months,” said John Robinson, an administrative assistant at Home Place.
Not only had many different nursing home residents been cut off from family, but they could not eat together in cafeterias or leave for doctor’s appointments. Live entertainment was not allowed. However, now that everyone is vaccinated, they are easing back to normal life.
“They are extremely excited.”
Home Place has reopened its doors. All visitors are screened for signs or symptoms of coronavirus. They are required to use hand sanitizers and a facemask. And they have to go straight to the resident’s room and they can only visit for 30 minutes at a time, so there isn’t an overabundance of visitors all at once. “We are almost back to normal but not quite there yet. This happened about three weeks ago. Before then there was no visitation,” said Robinson.
At St. Catherine’s Village, no visitors under the age of 18 can come inside. Residents are allowed visits, but they have to wear a mask, have their temperatures checked and be screened for symptoms. In the independent living quarters of St. Catherine’s Village, residents can have people in their apartments, but they cannot mingle in the common area.
The staff at the Orchard, a retirement community in Ridgeland, has worked to make the conditions of the pandemic easy for their residents to deal with.
Sharon Sullivan, executive director at The Orchard, and Sandra Strain, Madison alderman and community relations director at The Orchard shared their experience about uniting residents with their loved ones.
“The deal is if a visitor and a resident both have been fully vaccinated, they can visit in the residence apartment, or their room with no restrictions. If the visitor has not been vaccinated, they can still visit but the visitor has to wear a mask,” said Sullivan.
It was around April 1 when the Orchard began to lower their protocol, after the Center for Disease Control (CDC) relaxed their protocols. With the staff and residents vaccinated, the staff allowed the residents to go to the dining room and sit and eat without a mask and social distancing. Starting May 1, residents were able to have guests who have been fully vaccinated come and visit.
“We are trying to give as much relief to our residents and family as possible but do it in the safest way possible. We have worked too, too hard to just all of a sudden drop every protocol we have.”
During the peak of the coronavirus, The Orchard was also totally shut down.
“When we were totally shut down nobody came into our building. No vendors, no entertainment, no carpet cleaners, nobody. People could drop groceries off at the front door for them. We went out and unbagged all of groceries sprayed every item and threw the bags away.
“We were the only nursing home in the state that had no Covid, for a long time. Then all of the sudden we had an outbreak,” Sullivan said.
They immediately began to seek out antibody infusions, to give their residents a boosted immunity. But no one in Jackson had it.
“Then I got a tip that Magee General Hospital, in Magee, had the infusion. So I called down, and it was a blessing that I got on the phone with this girl because she put a crew together, that came up after they had worked hard all day long. They came up and gave our residents these infusions. Each infusion took about an hour, and of course, our company helped pay for all of it.”
But the work was over time, and the antibody infusion ended up costing around $550. The company ended up paying the extra money to, “Insure we gave them the best care we could.”
The CDC requires people to wait 90 days after the infusion to be vaccinated. The last infusions waiting period will expire around May 12. Then after they receive the vaccine an additional 14 days is needed. So things will get back to normal around June 1.
As these businesses begin to leave the intense protocols of the pandemic, residents of retirement homes are obviously overjoyed to be reconnected with their loved ones.