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No coronavirus at Susque-View; residents coping with guidelines

PHOTO PROVIDED Susque-View resident Violet Berry is helped taking her medication by nurse Jenn Gingery.

LOCK HAVEN — Amid all the bad news surrounding the coronavirus sweeping the state, nation and the world, there’s definitely a piece of very good news here in Lock Haven.

There are “no, none, nada, zero” cases of the killer disease at the Susque-View Home, where 111 of our most vulnerable elderly residents reside.

That’s the word this week from Susque-View administrator Jamie Aurand, who said the facility has taken strict measures to protect its residents and staff.

“Our goal is to keep it out of the building,” Aurand said, explaining the rules and regulations being taken and changes made to help residents cope with them during this pandemic.

The biggest hardship for the residents is that all visitations are prohibited, Aurand said. “None of the residents are able to have visits face-to-face since mid-March. That was a directive for all nursing homes across the state,” he said.

PHOTO PROVIDED Susque-View resident Bob Shady shows off a message he shared with his family.

There is one exception, Aurand said. “For residents in end-of-life stage, we’re allowing family, which must go through a screening process and wear masks,” Aurand said.

Residents are not wearing masks, Aurand said.

“But all employees are required to wear masks. All employees are screened at the beginning of their shift — temperatures are taken and they are asked questions … signs, symptoms, exposure. At the end of the shift they go through the same process,” Aurand said, quick to thank the community members who have made and donated cloth masks to the facility.

Aurand called the requirement that all staff wear masks “reverse isolation.” He explained that the Department of Health a week ago ordered that all staff must wear masks all the time. “It protects us from giving the residents the virus,which we could carry for several days and still not get. It keeps our residents safe,” he said.

One of the biggest problems is that the residents don’t understand, Aurand said.

PHOTO PROVIDED Susque-View resident Lois St. Clair shows off a message she shared with her family.

“We’ve always had a lot of activities for our residents … now, they’re pretty much confined to their rooms, as we practice social distancing.

“We are all social creatures. It’s hard to not socialize. It’s hard not to see family. Easter was exceptionally hard, as families usually visit and bring gifts. This year they struggled with no outside personal items allowed. No Easter baskets, no lilies. We’re taking an abundance of caution,” Aurand continued. He said residents got a bag of chocolates and one of the staff dressed up as the Easter Bunny and waved to residents.

Meanwhile, staff is trying to replace some of that socialization that residents are used to.

Nurses and other staff have been spending more one-on-one time with residents. And residents are using FaceTime and Skype to stay in touch with their families.

“But, they are certainly getting frustrated,” Aurand said.

PHOTO PROVIDED Susque-View nurse Corrine Grubb brings resident Joyce Wombaugh her meal.

“They are missing their loved ones. They can’t go down to the atrium where they are used to gathering with one another and family members. The nurses have been trying to take them down to the atrium one at a time,” he continued.

The residents are used to group activities and dining together, but that has all stopped.

Teresa Fortney, director of recreation, said they have come up with some adaptive programs to keep residents occupied, including doorway bingo, games with balloons, trivia, crossword puzzles and spontaneous dancing to music.

A couple of weeks ago residents wrote sentiments to their families on chalk boards and staff took photos of them holding up the signs… miss you… love you… and posted them on Susque-View’s Facebook page so family could see them.

Those on the first floor are able to look out their windows and see and wave to family, friends and pets in the parking area.

PHOTO PROVIDED Esther Gailbraith holds the message she wrote to her family.

“One woman decorated her car so her mom could see it and drove by her window waving,” Aurand said.

And over the weekend, one family parked outside, their vehicles plastered with signs of love and encouragement, as they danced around the parking lot to Diana Ross singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and using social distancing of course. The event is also available on Susque-View’s Facebook page.

All the rooms have phones, so residents can talk to family and friends. Of course it’s not the same as sitting with your loved ones, talking face-to-face and getting a hug or kiss.

“It’s not been easy, but we are doing everything we can to keep our residents safe. So far, it’s working,” Aurand said.

“We have no cases and we want to keep it that way.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Nurse Jenn Gingery cares for resident Joyce Lundy.

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