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Making the most of it

By Staff | Apr 17, 2020

Heartland Senior Living centers in both Winnebago and Wells are practicing social distancing, handwashing and all CDC guidelines.

Senior citizens are having to stay at home and stay in place during the past few weeks, as is everyone else.

That is especially true at the senior living, assisted living and care centers in Faribault County.

“We are restricting visitors at this time,” says Kacey Kasel, the director at Heartland Senior Living – Parker Oaks in Winnebago. “But our residents are doing great, and handling this well.”

She says the residents still get outside, on nice warm days, but inside or out, everyone is practicing the six-foot social distancing requirement.

“We are following all of the guidelines of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the MDH (Minnesota Department of Health),” she adds. “That includes wearing masks, checking temperatures, checking for coughs. We are following all of the protocols.”

That is true for both Parker Oaks and Heartland’s other facility, Parkview in Wells.

It is also true at SisterCare in Blue Earth.

“No visitors are allowed, we are restricting all visitors,” says owner Kala Xiong. “We are following all of the guidelines, including the masks, checking our residents, keeping them isolated if we need to.”

She also says they are all practicing good hand washing hygiene as the number one thing, as well as sanitizing everything.

“We are staying healthy, and we are doing everything we can to keep everyone healthy,” she adds. “That is our number one goal.”

The same sentiment is echoed at the Shepherd’s Inn in Wells.

“We are not allowing visitors and we are following all the mandates,” says director Pat Schuster. “That includes taking temperatures and screening staff and service people, social distancing, and using lots and lots of hand sanitizer.”

Schuster says they are being innovative when it comes to activities and entertainment.

“I am streaming things to their televisions in their rooms, on Channel 2,” Schuster explains. “Things from YouTube, Bible studies, church services, entertainment and exercises from DVDs, all sent from my laptop.”

In fact, they will soon start running Bingo games on Channel 2. Each resident gets one card in their room after the cards have been sanitized, of course.

The staff at St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center is also doing everything they can to keep everyone healthy in their different areas including the nursing home, Southview Estates and New Life Manor Senior Living, and Friendship Court Assisted Living.

It was at Friendship Court that a resident was diagnosed with COVID-19 and the whole facility was quarantined. That person is recovering from the illness.

“This is a very difficult time,” says St. Luke’s administrator Margaret Brandt. “But our staff and our residents are adjusting well to the situation and all of the protocols.”

That includes having the residents doing a lot of visiting family and friends over the phone, using Facetime, Skype and other types of video connections, on iPads provided by St. Luke’s.

“We have also offered families the opportunity to drive up to designated areas of our buildings that have large windows and phone availability,” Brandt says. “They can see and communicate with their family members.”

The staff is wearing masks and gloves and also trying to keep everyone at a safe social distancing space from one another.

They had already stopped congregate meal times several weeks ago, as well as stopping all group activities, unless they all keep at a distance from one another.

“So we are still finding creative ways to engage residents including theme dress up days, sign-alongs, hallway exercises and, of course, Bingo,” Brandt says.

They are doing what they can to keep everyone safe, and that includes restricting visitors, screening staff before each shift, screening each resident and assisted living tenant twice daily, replacing congregate meals and group activities with in-room dining and individual activities and telemedicine.

“We have been in unknown territory, but we were preparing for this for a long time, since March 12,” says Laura Barslou, infection control nurse at St. Luke’s. “We have also been learning along the way, taking it a step at a time, trying to keep everyone healthy and happy, too.”

The staff also appreciates all the community support, which has included sending flowers to residents and tenants, making fabric masks, sending cards and children’s artwork, to name a few things.