Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, additional strain has been placed on securing the safety of the senior citizen population.
Residents of long-term care facilities are among the most vulnerable to serious illness or death from COVID-19, with many presenting underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, website, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are guided to restrict all visitation except for certain compassionate care situations, such as the end of a life. Additionally, they are advised to restrict all volunteers and non-essential healthcare personnel and to cancel all group activities and communal dining.
The Associated Press reported on April 2 at least 450 deaths and nearly 2,300 infections have been linked to outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities worldwide.
In East Lansing, local nursing homes have taken precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of their residents moving forward.
Kari Rennie, executive director of Burcham Hills, a non-profit retirement community in East Lansing said as of March 30, no cases of the virus had been reported at the facility.
“Using technology, we are able to provide virtual engagement opportunities to all residents to help them remain connected with family and friends,” Rennie said via email. “This continues to be an evolving situation and we are committed to communicating regularly with residents, employees and families.”
Per Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s instructions, Burcham Hills has restricted access to the facility to staff, essential business partners and families visiting a loved one at end of life.
The Burcham Beat, a newsletter for community residents, released April 4 provides tips for managing stress and finding moments of joy during this time.
According to the newsletter, Burcham Hills continues to host a variety of events for residents to remain engaged. In the past, they have hosted events such as “The Burcham Boogie,” remote control car races and trivia packet raffles. This week they host a spirit week, encouraging participation with a crazy sock day, “We are Burcham Day,” Christmas in April and a pajama day.
“The biggest thing to remember is you don’t have to deal with this on your own. We are a strong community, here for each other and ready to help in any way we can,” the Burcham Beat reads.
At the MediLodge of East Lansing, a nursing home providing long-term skilled nursing care and short-term rehabilitation solutions, loved ones are encouraged to stay in touch with residents via the sending of e-cards.
These are available on their website with the option of pre-made designs or uploading a personalized image.
MediLodge’s Chief Human Resource Officer Bill Gray said he is extremely proud of all the work the staff has done to take care of their residents.
At this point, Gray said he was unable to provide any further comments.
There have been no confirmed cases at the East Lansing MediLodge, according to their website.
In a statement by Trilogy Health Services President Leigh Ann Barney, she said they are providing employees, residents, visitors and vendors with ongoing education regarding proper hygiene practices. The Willows at East Lansing operates under Trilogy Health Services and are working to ensure the safety of all residents and employees.
Per CDC guidelines, visitation has been restricted to end-of-life care.
“We understand that we care for our country’s most vulnerable population, and we are committed to ensuring their health and happiness. Every member of our campus team is dedicated to this mission, and we will always operate with our residents’ best interests at heart,” Barney said in the statement.
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