Some Nursing Homes Open For Visitors With Protocols

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
On June 11, Governor Mike Parson declared that a state of emergency continues to exist in the state of Missouri (related to COVID-19), and that steps must be taken to prevent a substantial risk to public health and safety as we reopen Missouri’s economic and social activity. Even though Missouri fully reopened on June 16, the governor emphasized the importance of continuing social distancing and practicing proper hygiene to prevent the spread of the disease. These measures are still part of protocol in area nursing and care centers, but there have been some changes to the way visits by families and friends are managed.
Good Samaritan Care Center in Cole Camp received an excellent report from state inspectors several weeks ago, and two weeks later were given permission to allow families and friends of residents to visit them on the outside grounds of the center.
“We have allowed window visits all along, but now have stations outside of the center for visitors to meet with residents,” said Kathy Williams, Administrator of Good Samaritan Care Center. “Plexiglass sneeze guards are in the middle of tables that seat two persons at a time, and there is a hug station with holes in plexiglass. Residents put on long gloves before reaching through the holes for a hug from a loved one. We also have a hydration and sanitizing station outside.”
Williams said that the center has a really great team, and that its creativity keeps the facility free of deficiencies, and enables residents to dine and participate in community activities while keeping safe.
“Our extra safety procedures are, of course, an added burden to the staff, but I think they are glad to do it,” said Williams. “We get together and share our knowledge, and have the help of an infection team and environment people who help us.”
Williams said that guidelines for nursing homes change very often, and that a short time ago the center got four different memos that made changes to guidelines for health safety. She said that new guidelines are also expected any day from the State regarding testing.
“The State prefers that we test our residents and staff with a nasal swab,” said Williams. “But the nasal swabbing is uncomfortable for our residents who can get anxious from the procedure and many do not understand why it is being done. Our preferred test is an antibody test that can be taken with a small prick of a finger. This test is not one of the antibody tests that flooded the market a couple of months ago from China. Even though the nasal swab is funded by the government, we spend our own thousands of dollars to get the FDA antibody test that we believe is as safe and painless as is possible at this time.”
Bristol Manor in Lincoln is a small facility with only three residents at this time. Administrator Jackie Dabney said that they are allowing visitors to visit residents two at a time, outside and with masks. This has been going on since early in June.
Warsaw Health and Rehabilitation Center in Warsaw, however, is still practicing extreme precaution, and not allowing visitors in the facility or to meet with them on the grounds.
“The only exception to this protocol is in a case where a patient is on Hospice and/or nearing the end of life,” said Reba Slavens, Admissions and Marketing Coordinator. “No one is allowed inside unless they are negative for COVID-19.”
Lincoln Community Care Center and Lakeside Suites Administrator Sheryl LaFavor reported that nothing in the facility has changed since restrictions were implemented early in the pandemic. She said that her hardship in the early months of the pandemic of getting ample supplies of masks, gloves and sanitizing products has improved a little bit. But, she has to utilize different vendors to get what she needs. She said that temperatures of staff and residents are taken every day and face masks are worn by all.
Ambrose Park Residential Care Facility in Cole Camp has opened up visitation by friends and family to an area outside of the facility. The residents and visitors must stay six feet apart, wear masks, and visitors are required to answer COVID-19 health questions. The facility has been given state guidelines about how to let residents eat in the dining room, but it involves getting plexiglass and deciding how to get all residents into a space that will not be large enough for all to eat at the same time. They are currently working on solving these issues.
The latest data from Missouri’s Department of Health & Senior Services reveals that there are 19,421 cases of COVID-19 in the state, and there have been 982 deaths. As of last week there were 16 cases of COVID-19 in Benton County. The good news is that none of the county care centers have reported any cases.