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COVID-19 and Nursing Homes
Verdigre resident Lottie Randa celebrated her 108th birthday last week. Residents have flocked to her nursing home to help Lottie celebrate for years, but 2020 presented a unique hurdle to the party. Like many others in the state, Lottie’s nursing home is not open to visitors. Town residents adjusted and threw their town’s beloved matriarch a parade instead. Lottie’s birthday celebration underscores an issue facing thousands of Nebraskans with friends and family members in nursing homes, which have been locked down as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Fears of the virus reaching our nursing homes are not unfounded. Dozens of Nebraska nursing home residents have died of COVID-19. Nursing home outbreaks can stem from a single resident being exposed to the virus, which typically leads to the virus spreading like wildfire throughout the facility. Administrators are left to walk a tight balance between protecting the health of their residents and ensuring they have a reasonable quality of life.
One of my own family members lives in a Nebraska long-term care facility, so this issue is personal for me. Many cannot access their spiritual advisors for counseling or last rites. Family members are left to visit residents through windows and via video calls, which is better than no contact, but is certainly no substitute for in-person contact. Compounding the stress of virtual contact for families of memory care and hospice patients is the limited time remaining with a loved one. Even simple interactions that may have been taken for granted before have a high value. Hairdressers and manicurists that made regular visits to our facilities are not considered essential visitors, but there’s significant intrinsic value for residents to feel comfortable and pampered.
My office and the legislative branch does not have direct control over the Directed Health Measures in place, but I always forward the concerns raised by nursing home staff, loved ones, and volunteers to the executive branch to help them better understand the implications of their decisions. Thank you to those who have reached out to my office to express their feelings on this issue, and thank you to all of our care center staff members, from administration to maintenance and personal care. Your work to balance the health and wellness of nursing home residents in District 1 does not go unnoticed.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509-4604; telephone 402-471-2733; email: email@example.com