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Shawnee, area nursing homes limit visitors to protect residents from coronavirus

Elisabeth Slay

With concerns of the coronavirus, area nursing homes began taking extra precautions earlier this week to protects residents by limiting visitors in buildings or locking down facilities altogether.

In response to President Trump’s speech Friday declaring a national emergency due to COVID-19, McLoud Nursing Center changed its protocols that were in place a day earlier that initially limited visitors. As of Friday, the facility is not allowing any visitors into the faculty for the safety of its residents.

Administrator Marilyn Love said the nursing center will continue to change its course of action and safety measures as the COVID-19 situation changes hourly and daily.

Love said the facility’s main responsibly is to keep the infection from spreading to its residents.

Prior to Friday's change, McLoud's center was already screening visitors, including visiting family members, with a questionnaire regarding health and travel history.

McLoud Nursing Center, Love said, is one of several nursing home facilities throughout the state following the necessary guidelines and protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"As we learn more about how serious this virus is for the elderly, particularly the experience in facilities caring for the elderly and how it can spread once it’s in a facility, we believe this guidance is prudent to help achieve our collective goal to prevent the entry of the virus and to put our residents first," Love said.

In addition to deep cleaning, sanitize stations and educating staff and residents, Love said other precautions the facility has taken include limiting group activities, not allowing residents in who have a fever or other symptoms and stepping up their already effective cleaning procedures to limit the spread of infections.

"We have faith in the system that if we continue with our normal infection control protocols and take extra precautions with limiting non-essential visits from the community we are being part of the solution to this pandemic situation," Love said.

Shawnee's Colonial Estates went on lockdown earlier this week and is not allowing any visitors or others in the facility.

“We are asking non-essential visitors, including family members, contractors, and volunteers to avoid visiting our facility for the time being. Loved ones can communicate with residents by using video chat, calling, texting, or checking in on social media,” said Karen Phelps, RN, Administrator of Colonial Estates.

She said the facility is also following the same infection prevention procedures used during flu season, such as hand washing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, covering coughs, and disinfecting the environment.

Phelps said the goal “is to prevent the virus from entering the facility and if it is found in our facility, to minimize the spread to anyone else.”

At Meeker Nursing Center, administrators, as of Friday, were limiting visitors and asking them about their health or if they've traveled recently. Additionally, limited visitors are only allowed from 9 to 11:30 a.m. or 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Golden Rule Home in Bethel has also applied restrictions to protect its residents.

According to Administrator Gwen Gilkeson, Golden Rule is staying up to date with the Centers for Disease Control, Oklahoma Health Department and other health organization as they release new information and guidelines involving COVID-19.

Gilkeson said the facility is only allowing visitors who are medically necessary to see residents.

Gilkeson said Golden Rule Home will continue to follow up and proceed with the necessary procedures to keep its residents safe.

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Lincoln County officials monitor COVID-19 situation

Lincoln County Emergency Management is working closely with the Lincoln County Health Department, Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management to monitor

the developing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation in Oklahoma.

The overall risk of contracting the virus still remains low

for the general population, the office reports, and those most at risk for exposure are those who have underlying health conditions or weak immune systems, those who are traveling frequently; especially internationally, and those who regularly

attend events where large groups of people are in attendance and in close proximity to each other.

District 3 County Commissioner Lee Doolen said, “We are working closely with our partners to keep our citizens safe and will continue to monitor the situation. Our Emergency Management staff are being briefed daily and keeping county officials informed. Our best defense to combat this virus begins at home with good

hygiene practices.”

Concerned citizens may call the Oklahoma State Department of Health Call center at 877-215-8336 to ask questions and express concerns. Marcy said those who feel they have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms of a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, a persistent cough and shortness of breath, they should call their health care provider or local ER before going to the facility to help limit potential exposure to patients and visitors in waiting rooms.

“There is still no reason to panic. There is a big difference in preparedness and panic buying and the panic buying that is going on right now is resulting in a supply chain shortage that keeps health care providers and other facilities, such as schools and day care centers, who really need things such as hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and hand soap from being able to get it,” Marcy said. “Beating this means acting rationally and working together.”