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Good Shepherd Residents Adjusting Well to New Routines

Photo Provided Carol Bowman, certified activities director at Good Shepherd Nursing Home, helps resident Shirley Davis enjoy a virtual visit with her daughter, Robin. While Good Shepherd has curtailed visiting to protect residents against the coronavirus, staff are using technology to help residents stay in close touch with their loved ones.

WHEELING — Residents of Good Shepherd Nursing Home and Welty Home are doing well with new routines and using technology to stay in touch, Administrator Donald R. Kirsch said Thursday.

The nursing home and assisted living program curtailed visitation indefinitely to protect residents from the coronavirus.

Residents and their families are enjoying video chats with new tablet computers that have been placed at each nurses’ station at Good Shepherd and on each floor of the Welty Home.

“Our residents like it and our families seem to like it and appreciate it,” he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services have recommended canceling group activities. To keep residents entertained, each facility’s activities staff members are meeting with them regularly to converse, play games and share books, puzzles and crafts.

Good Shepherd and Welty Home have instituted other new policies to protect residents and staff.

“We’re regularly taking residents’ temperatures and monitoring for signs and symptoms on any type of illness,” Kirsch said. “So far, we have had a few low-grade temperatures (between 99 and 100 degrees), but these have gone down and remained down after we administered acetaminophen.”

As staffers report for work each shift, nurses take their temperature. Anyone with a temperature above 99.9 is denied entry. Nearly all staff remain healthy; only three workers have been sent home so far.

Staffers take their responsibility to residents seriously, Kirsch said. Even closing area schools has not interrupted staffing.

“Our staff have done a great job of making alternate arrangements for their children so that they can come to work,” he said. “We appreciate their loyalty and commitment to our residents and hope this will continue.”

He said the facilities have leased a stand-alone freezer to augment the amount of food that can be kept on hand.

“This has enabled us to order and have on hand two full weeks of frozen, raw food items for both Good Shepherd and the Welty Home,” he said. “We have also increased our order of dry goods to accommodate two full weeks of our menus.”

Although he has assurances from the organizations’ major food suppliers that there will be no interruption in the supply chain, the suppliers have acknowledged that an unforeseen problem at a distribution center could require the use of an alternate distribution point.

“Having two weeks of food on-site will give our suppliers time to switch our orders to another distribution center if necessary without harming us,” Kirsch said.

Medical suppliers have delivered extra gloves, gowns, masks and other personal protective equipment over and above Good Shepherd and Welty’s regular orders.

“Kudos to our dietary purchasing agent for ordering the extra food, and to our storeroom manager for being able to obtain additional gowns and masks in the midst of a nationwide shortage,” he said. “All of these extra items will be inventoried and used over time if the virus passes without impacting us. None of the items will go to waste. And we have not experienced any price gouging for these extra items.”

Kirsch said Good Shepherd has taken steps to create a new isolation area in case any residents contract the coronavirus.

The new unit, which can accommodate up to 16 residents was readied on Friday and is available if needed. Kirsch said.

The unit has its own separate ventilation system, so air will not be circulated from the isolation unit into any other area of the facility. The decision to create this isolation unit came out of concern for the potential lack of available beds at local hospitals should the coronavirus spread in the community.

Kirsch thanked residents and their families for their graceful acceptance of the new routines that Good Shepherd and Welty Home have put in place.

“We’re grateful that they understand that we’re doing everything we can to protect their family members and our staff,” he said.

Good Shepherd Nursing Home and Welty Home are part of a continuum of senior living options offered by the nonprofit Welty Corp. in Wheeling.

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