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Long-Term Care Heroes: McDowell Nursing & Rehabilitation Center balances providing care, activities during COVID-19

Gary, W.Va. – As COVID-19 swept through the United States it disrupted every walk of life, and nursing homes were particularly affected because of the high risk to older people who have pre-existing conditions.
Faced with this reality, nursing homes across the nation adapted quickly to protect patients with employee screenings and visitor restrictions.
Throughout it all, McDowell Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (McDowell N&RC) found ways to balance care, daily activities of living and protecting patients.
Activity Departments were challenged with keeping patients engaged and having fun during the changes of social distancing.
“We looked at how we did activities before and how it could be adapted,” said Brandon Hall, Activities Director for McDowell N&RC. “We created doorway Bingo, where patients sat at their door and activities employees created a Facetime chatroom, so all employees knew the numbers being called. We worked with our Dietary Department, who ordered special prizes such as YooHoo milk, hot fries, and candy bars. We also created different types of mobile carts that allowed for social distancing, but also engaged patients.”
According to Hall, some of the carts featured ice cream, tropical drinks or a carnival theme. Patients also enjoyed “new games” created by activity employees.
For example, a paper version of corn hole was created so the paper could be used, then discarded, and patients would not be touching the same items again and again.
Volunteers were restricted from visiting, so staff also became entertainers performing line dancing, singing, and provided church-related services such Bible study.
“Patients enjoyed all the activities while maintaining social distancing, and we helped patients maintain communication with their families via Facetime, Zoom and Skype,” said Hall.
Another department crucial to the care of patients and important for socializing is our Dietary Department.
Patients socializing with one another and employees is a large part of their day. Unfortunately, due to social distancing dining together in the Dining Hall was not an option.
“Our patients understood the need for restrictions on dining together as they usually did,” said Keith Bishop, Dietary Supervisor for McDowell N&RC. “We increased the availability of special food items approved by our Resident Council President and had “Themed Meals” to coordinate with our Activities Department.”
Vendors weren’t allowed in the center and most patients enjoy getting soda and candy from the machines, so the Dietary Department provided soda and candy to patients along with other specialty food items.
Roommates continued to have meals together while practicing social distancing. Some patients chose to have their meals in the lounge while practicing social distancing.
“Everyone is looking forward to the day when families and friends will visit at the center,” said Hall. “We are collaborating with our state survey agency and local health departments to finalize the reopening plans and the criteria for safe implementation of visits.
McDowell N&RC will continue to follow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
“We are looking forward to being back together as a family again, although it may look a little different. We will continue to love another as God as commanded because we all in this together,” said Patty Lucas, Executive Director for McDowell N&RC.
About AMFM:AMFM operates 18 skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers throughout West Virginia. The care centers are in Braxton, Boone, Clay, Cabell, Summers, Fayette, Hardy, Greenbrier, Webster, Wayne, McDowell, Lincoln, Wyoming, Harrison (Clarksburg & Bridgeport), Marshall, Taylor and Mercer counties.
AMFM’s mission is “to exemplify excellence in quality care to our customers by providing an environment that enhances personal growth, individuality, dignity and respect.”