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By Carmen Ensinger
White Hall Nursing and Rehab has begun implementing the COVID-19 mitigation measures early in the game trying to get a handle on the new Delta strand of the virus before it enters the facility and wreaks havoc on the staff and patients as was the case last year when the virus struck.
“We were one of the last nursing home facilities to be hit by the virus the first time around, but when we did get it, it hit us pretty hard and we want to prevent that from happening again,” Business Office Assistant Kim Schutz said. “Our residents are among some of the most vulnerable so it is imperative that we do everything possible to keep the virus from entering this facility.”
The residents have at least had partial summer to spend with their families.
“We opened up fully around Mother’s Day when we started allowing family members to come in at will and go into their family member’s rooms,” Schutz said. “We have had several family events and things were just getting back to normal and now we don’t really know what is going to happen from day to day.”
At the suggestion of the Greene County Health Department, the facility has begun limiting visitations from family members.
“We are limiting the number of visitors to the facility each day and we are no longer allowing them into their rooms – they must meet them in the front lobby,” Schutz said. “Also, visitors must have their temperature taken, fill out a questionnaire and consent to a rapid COVID test or they will not be allowed into the facility.”
Visits must be scheduled in advance and are limited to 30 minutes each.
“We are going to allow five visitors per day, an hour apart,” Schutz said. “That will allow us time to sanitize the area before the next visitor and resident come into the area.”
Residents may still visit with their relatives outside as well.
“For those relatives who do not want to agree to take the rapid COVID test, they can still visit with their relatives outside, but both them and their relative must wear a mask and stay six feet apart,” Schutz said. “If they agree to the COVID test and it comes back negative, they still have to wear the mask, but they can be a little closer.”
Last year, a group of volunteers built an extra layer of protection for the residents that has come to be referred to as the “visitor’s box”. A wooden enclosure with a plexiglass shield that allows the resident to sit safely behind while visiting with their relatives.
“We had dismantled it earlier this summer and were just getting ready to put it in storage,” Schutz said. “Then, we got the word about these new mitigation measure and decided it would probably be a good idea to put it back up just in case.”
Schutz said they are once again back to a life of uncertainty as far as not knowing what the State is going to do.
“We are certainly not looking forward to going back to the full protocols of before – absolutely not. We are over it,” she said. “We are just not sure how the State is going to handle it. We are just trying to get our ducks in a row ahead of time and doing everything that we can possibly do to prevent it getting back in our facility.”