One of the primary concerns since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the health and safety of front-line workers and seniors in long-term care facilities.
We’ve been fortunate in Chemainus to have a clean slate at the Chemainus Health Care Centre.
That’s been due in part to the strict measures immediately put into place when instructed by provincial health authorities and the continued vigilance of staff, residents and the public since then to follow the guidelines without exceptions.
“It’s been really great,” said Stefanie Woewoda, formerly of Dufferin Place in Nanaimo and the current clinical nurse leader in Chemainus.
“There’s an amazing team here and everybody’s been very supportive.”
When the initial lockdown went into effect March 18, “that was really hard for the families and the staff, too,” conceded Annette Kyndt, the long-term care manager. “We had a lot of support from families saying they felt better it was locked down.”
There have been no concerns around the building as far as outbreaks are concerned.
The activities team picked up a great deal of slack for the benefit of residents from families being unable to visit and the regular entertainers no longer on site.
A bit of a pick-me-up for staff came from National Nurses Week May 11-17. The community is extremely grateful for everything the staff – not just the nurses, but those in food services and other departments – do for the residents whether they actually have family members at the facility or not.
Strict control is kept over the entrance to the building.
“Anything that comes in has to be wiped down,” noted Kyndt.
“I feel like our staff have really stepped up and been great with this whole situation,” added Woewoda.
The stress was perhaps at its peak the first two weeks, Kyndt indicated.
“We’ve been going through ebbs and flows. It’s like a bit of a roller coaster. I think since then things have settled down.”
Some staff members admittedly had struggles, with a fear of the unknown entering their minds until more was determined about how to restrict the spread of the virus.
“I think it has been hard for some of them,” noted Woewoda. “But overall they’ve been really good sports about it.”
A sign at the entrance to the building clearly states: “To keep our residents, families and staff safe, and in keeping with social distancing recommendations, we are limiting to essential visitors only entering our buildings.
“Do not visit if you are sick. All children 18 and under are restricted from visiting any care site at this time.”
Essential visits include: end-of-life and critical illness; and situations considered paramount to patient/resident care and well-being such as assistance with feeding or mobility, essential medical professionals and medication delivery.
Residential visits through the glass have been helpful for residents and family members to at least be able to see each other. About 200 cards were made for Mother’s Day that brought plenty of good cheer.
The province and the Island, particularly, have fared well to this point with the number of COVID-19 cases remaining at a minimum without any large spikes.
“It does seem that way,” said Kyndt. “I think we’re lucky we’re surrounded by water sometimes.”
“Thanks to Dr. (Bonnie) Henry,” praised Woewoda. “She’s been pro-active and putting this all into place for us.
“And we’ve been very supported by Island Health.”
Any community fears about COVID-19 in the facility can be allayed, the women are happy to report.
“I think the community needs to know it,” conceded Kyndt.