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Pott. County nursing homes maintain new normalcy amid COVID-19

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Shawnee Colonial Estates celebrated Veterans Day with their veterans, including Robert Jensen and Freeman Whitlock, who enjoyed the cake provided by Frontier Hospice and the plaques provided by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Shawnee Colonial Estates celebrated Veterans Day with their veterans, including Robert Jensen and Freeman Whitlock, who enjoyed the cake provided by Frontier Hospice and the plaques provided by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars.

For the last several months various nursing homes in Pottawatomie County have kept residents safe from COVID-19 and continue to do so as the case numbers fluctuate.  

According to Marilyn Love, administrator of McLoud Nursing Center, there have been no positive COVID-19 cases among the 60 residents or numerous staff members. 

"We have window visits at this time and we've started and stopped visitation over the last few months," Love said.  

When the COVID-19 case rate goes down, Love said the nursing center will consider allowing in person visitation again.  

Love said while things have been difficult, residents are holding up well as there are various activities to partake in at the nursing center.  

"We have a gentleman who plays the saxophone and we play the music through a Bluetooth for the residents," Love said. "Another group provides cake and (the residents) play SINGO." 

The administrator said SINGO is like musical BINGO in that it requires residents to listen to different songs through the nursing center’s Bluetooth and mark down the song titles on a card until they get a BINGO.  

Love said to maintain social distancing, residents play the games and participate in activities hall by hall.  

In addition, Love said the nursing center changes the theme of its snack cart from time to time and serves ice cream, tacos or other different food items.  

As the pandemic continues, Love said the nursing center continues to screen all employees and outside guests, has someone constantly sanitizing the door knobs and railings, has humidifiers and sanitizer stations and turns away anyone with a fever or other symptoms.  

"We feel (these measures) are what's kept us going without COVID-19," Love said.  

In addition to the McLoud Nursing Center, Shawnee Colonial Estates has implemented various safety measures to keep its residents and staff safe from COVID-19. 

However, according to Administrator Karen Phelps, there have been several positive cases among both staff and residents.  

Phelps said when a resident has a positive case they are separated from others and quarantined for about two weeks or until they have a negative test.  

If an employee tests positive, Phelps said they take off work, quarantine and follow other CDC guidelines.  

Phelps said while times have been challenging, the nursing center has also offered several activities for residents including games, social distance parties and other such events. 

The administrator said Colonial Estates had a drive-by trick or treating event for Halloween for children of staff members in which the teenage daughter of an employee handed out candy to the children while they were in their cars. Phelps said no residents came in contact with the children and no outside personal were inside the facility during the event. 

In addition, Phelps said the nursing center celebrated Veterans Day and honored veteran residents.  

Along with Colonial Estates, The Regency, which has about 91 residents, has had positive coronavirus cases.  

According to Administrator Jessica Bieger, there have been seven positive COVID-19 cases, including one resident and six employees. 

Bieger said the resident who tested positive was asymptomatic but was quarantined in a private room until testing negative.  

For employees who tested positive, Bieger said they're required to quarantine at home until they have two negative tests.  

Bieger said currently residents have window visits with their families and can video conference them on iPads and iPhones provided by the Regency.  

In addition, Bieger said to help residents get through the pandemic and feel special, the nursing center celebrates their birthdays and with gifts and treats as well as other occasions such as Veterans Day.  

Bieger said she hopes in the future the pandemic will end and the nursing center can get back to business as usual. 

Note: This story has been updated to reflect that none of the residents at Shawnee Colonial Estates came in contact with children of staff members during a trick or treating event on Halloween and no outside personal were inside the facility. 

Check back for updates.