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All hands on deck as Glendale meets coronavirus challenge

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TALI FEINBERG

“We are all in shock as it was very sudden,” says the home’s chairperson, Judith Cohen. “We are deeply saddened and wish his family a long life.”

Twenty-one Glendale residents tested positive for coronavirus just more than a week ago.

However, these residents are doing well in spite of the multitude of challenges of such an outbreak in a facility like this and the many co-morbidities of its residents. The 12 staff members who tested positive are also all doing well. The home has 50 residents and about 60 staff.

Of the COVID-19-positive residents, “One resident is in hospital on oxygen, and is stable. Four residents were put on oxygen, but two have since been taken off. Twenty out of 21 COVID-positive residents are showing very mild symptoms,” says Cohen.

“Keep in mind that we are being extremely cautious. If a person is on oxygen, it’s usually a cause for concern, but we’re taking no chances and will give the residents a small amount of oxygen the moment their levels dip. It’s not a cause for alarm.”

At the same time, “We’re not on other side yet, and family members remain concerned. We are around day eight to 10 since residents started showing symptoms, and the doctors keep saying it’s important to get to day 12, with the resident remaining stable. So it really is a critical point.”

The father of one resident has described the past week as a “rollercoaster of emotions”. His son, who tested positive, had to go on oxygen for 48 hours, but is now managing without it. The next few days will be vital to assess if he can continue without oxygen. This parent is also a doctor, and urges community members to “take this infection seriously and avoid risky meetings and behaviour. It’s a very devious disease”.

It’s been all hands on deck at Glendale as the home has been short-staffed. “Bringing in temporary agency staff has been a risk for further COVID-19 infections in care facilities around the world, and we know residents will struggle to adapt to new faces,” says Cohen. “So some staff members offered to work an additional night shift; and our director, Shelly Korn, as well as our occupational therapist stepped in as carers.”

This kind of sacrifice, commitment, and dedication is at the heart of the home’s ethos, which is viewed by many as one big family.

Cohen says the residents are coping with staying in their rooms. “We have been teaching them about COVID-19 for three months. They understand that it’s now in the home, and that some people are sick so they need to stay in their rooms. We’ve provided each of them with a small desk to do activities. Our occupational therapist has also been working closely with them.”

There are a few “wanderers” who can’t be kept in their rooms, but they have been contained in sections within the home. “Some residents are extremely close to each other, and some are siblings and get upset about not being able to see each other, so staff use devices to help them communicate. We keep adapting and making plans to work around their needs,” says Cohen.

A doctor visits the residents every day, and they are monitored throughout the day by nurses and carers. All staff are equipped with full personal protective equipment.

“Our staff have been incredible, and really come together as a team. We have had one-on-one debriefing sessions for all staff, and also offer counselling for family members who may need it. Families are kept up to date on WhatsApp groups and with individual phone calls.”

Cohen says the community has been a real source of support and comfort to the home.

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