Nursing home residents speak up on county COVID policy

Editor’s note: About a month ago, the Free Press ran a letter to the editor from a daughter of an elderly woman who resided at Parkside. That same week, the commissioners spoke up on behalf of the elderly population. Believing that we were representing the elderly in facilities, the Free Press ran both pieces, proud to be speaking out. Shortly after, a long conversation began between the Free Press and residents of Parkside Homes, and the Free Press was saddened to discover that we had wrongly spoken out on behalf of many of the residents of Parkside Homes.

It has now been over a month. While the Free Press had hoped to run a more collective piece from Parkside and other facilities, COVID restrictions have made it really difficult. You can’t get in to interview people, and many can’t speak on the phone. So this piece is a bit out of the ordinary.

We are running a collective letter six have worked together on. Some have spoken to the media as well as to Parkside staff, so points have been verified. But it for sure isn’t your normal interview. But all of these brave women have stepped forward and spoken out with the help of their amazing staff advocates. Please enjoy.

“Here we have the best care and best quality of visitation. We have a plastic booth outside the front door where we can visit without our mask with family or friends. No, visitors should not come in to see us during this time of this virus and pandemic.

“We are thankful for the good care here and how they are keeping us healthy and safe from this virus. The only time we are to stay in own rooms is if we go to our appointments, hospital or just to visit. When we come back in, we are to stay in our rooms for 14 days to make sure we don’t get that virus from who may be carrying the germs!

“All workers and nurses are tested every time they come in.

“We can have our doors open when we need to stay in our rooms and to say “Hi” to who goes by. Nurses come in to help us with our needs.

“We wear our mask when we are out of rooms. We eat at tables being left six feet apart. We have devotions by our Chaplin Nadine Friesen. We can go outside in the courtyard being six feet apart. We do the same when playing Bingo and Hit Balloon Fun.

“These are good rules to follow for us to stay healthy and safe.

“So being thankful for what we do have makes life go better. This virus happened for some good reasons—to bring us back to God first to ask him to guide and direct us.

“Being thankful is so powerful—let’s come together as helping, caring and loving people so not to destroy each other.

“We have great food, great nurses and workers. Family and friends can call us, and we can talk on the phone.

“For all our needs, the doctors come here to see us. There are many other good things.

“We give God the credit here that we are able to follow some good rules to stay healthy and safe during this time when it is so very difficult to not do what we use to do.

“May we all pray for each other and be thankful we are alive and well.”

Signed, Dot Ensz, Lois Groening, Edie Ollenburger, Laura Bishop, Elva Suderman and Mildred Hamm

The Free Press did verify that the policies are what were stated. One change is that the plexiglass booth has been moved inside to a foyer so residents are not as cold when meeting with guests. But the rest of the policies were exactly as the authors of the letter stated.

“We were kind of talking about it, and our worker, Roblyn Regier, mentioned how we could write a letter, so we did. She has been really helpful to us. She wanted to help us to let people know that we are thinking and what we are thankful for. She has really helped us to let people know. We are so thankful for what we do have and we know that things don’t always go how we want in life,” said Dot Ensz.

The authors of the letter welcome dialogue and understand that not all feel the same as they do. But they also stated that this is a time that is difficult and requires some sacrifice that is hard.

The ladies who wrote the letter want to keep being upbeat and focused on the positive and like that their staff is supporting them.

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