Love in the Time of Corona
Carefulness costs you nothing. Carelessness may cost you your life. ~Safety saying, circa early 1900s
You probably feel inundated with news about COVID-19, so please accept my apology because you are going to hear about it here as well. All of us at Frederick Place have been asked more than once what we are doing differently, so thought I’d share a bit about it. Don’t worry, you are not about to be subjected to 900 words all about the news we can’t escape.
Since reports of the virus hit the airwaves, we have begun taking residents’ temperatures every morning when they come in for check-in. To make this task easier on both, an ear thermometer with disposable tips was purchased. It is a quick and painless ordeal, not at all like taking an oral temperature. We then record their temperature in the same log where we keep a resident’s medication log sheets.
The safest risk is the one you didn't take. ~Author unknown
Our inquiry procedure for admittance has changed as well. When someone calls to see if we have a bed, we have a list of questions we ask. If they answer in the affirmative to any of those questions, they are told they need to quarantine away from Frederick Place for 14 days. Now, you may be wondering how they would find a place to quarantine if they are calling because they are homeless. It is a dilemma, but we do need to protect our current residents and staff, and the house just isn’t big enough to be sure that true quarantine is happening. So far, this has only been an issue with one resident who came from southern Wisconsin. The resident did find somewhere to quarantine and has since joined the family. We have had several inquiries since then and they have all come from our five-county area.
We have had quite a few donations of cloth masks and have given each of the residents one to use. If you are one of those people who took the time to make them for us, we thank you! We have also seen a huge increase in meal and food donations. We thank you and look forward to the day meal providers can again enjoy a meal with our residents!
Choosing safety is a choice of life over career ~
The biggest impact affecting us at Frederick Place has been the temporary loss of one of our own. Anna Mae has had to quit working at Frederick Place and in the hospital ER until it is safe for her to return. She is one of the “lucky” ones who has underlying conditions that put her at a greater risk of contracting the virus. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2012 and sarcoidosis in 2016. Sarcoidosis is a disease involving abnormal collections of inflammatory cells that form lumps known as granulomas. Anna Mae’s sarcoidosis originated in her lungs and has since migrated to her heart. This diagnosis was made shortly after Anna Mae was rushed to Marshfield on November 15, 2019 with crushing chest pain and difficulty breathing.
I will never forget that day just waiting for news, fearing the worst. When we got the good news that she was going to be OK, I remember crying tears of gratitude and relief. A few days later she had a pacemaker and ICD (internal cardiac defibrillator) placed. Anna Mae returned home only to be admitted to St. Mary’s a few days later for observation after a prolonged period of dizziness and weakness. She made it home for a couple weeks before she was again rushed to Marshfield with chest pain and shortness of breath. During this hospitalization they discovered fluid in the pericardium (membranous sac around the heart). The fluid ended up being blood leaking around the anchor for one of the leads in her heart. This was repaired and she was once again home. She did quite well until the middle of February when she again had chest pain, shortness of breath, and fluid around her heart. Although she is doing much better, her pacemaker continues to misbehave, and she needs to have surgery to put the unruly wire back where it belongs.
Anna Mae’s cardiac doc, much to her dismay and frustration, ordered her to stay home until he felt it was safe for her to return to work. Anna Mae has accepted, but not happily, being banned from work with no end in sight to being quarantined. We’ve taken this in stride and covered her hours just like we have always done. As I’ve said numerous times in this space, we are a family and families come together in times of crisis and Anna Mae’s absence is no exception.
Last week Anna Mae came to visit me for a much-needed therapy session (she is the only one that my insurance covers) that lasted a couple hours. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. I miss her advice, validation, smile and laugh more and more as each week passes. I miss our chats ranging from family, our past lives, current events and pets, to discussions of medical procedures. We have reassured each other that looking forward to a trauma does not make us evil. Our therapy sessions will one day resume when the time is right. I will never forget this time when a virus reminded me what an important part of my life Anna Mae truly is.
When you arrive at the end of this paragraph, please take a moment to pray or send good vibes to the victims of the virus and the loved ones they’ve left behind. Pray for the nurses, medical assistants, EMTs and doctors who are working so hard to save the many victims; the members of ancillary hospital services such as housekeeping, reception and food service. What they do behind the scenes makes it possible for others to focus on the sick. Pray for law enforcement and our government leaders (especially our leaders and that is all I have to say about that); workers who remain on duty at grocery stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, gas stations and delivery drivers. Remember those who have taken the time to help a home bound citizen by delivering groceries and those who organize drive-by birthday wishes and musical performances. Last but not least, please take a moment to pray or send caring thoughts to the homeless of our country and those going the extra mile to make sure they are not forgotten.
Thank you. Stay safe.