Steps a Philadelphia nursing home is taking to keep residents safe

Victoria Kline
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
5 p.m. Wednesday, March 25

Steps a Philadelphia nursing home is taking to keep residents safe

Hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities across the country have taken extra precautions since the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

My mother, Valerie Kline, 54, is a registered nurse at Fairlane Gardens, a greater Philadelphia area nursing home. When I first returned home from Miami, she described to me the several changes at the facility over the past few weeks.

One restriction includes the exclusion of visitors at the facility. Since this restriction was put in place, several family members have been seen knocking on the windows of their loved ones residing at the facility.

Because of the lack of visitation rights, family members have also expressed extra concern for their well-being over the phone.

David Williams, an RN at the nursing home, wears his mask even when doing paperwork alone at his desk.
Photo taken by Valerie Kline

“Whenever we make a phone call to a family member, even if it has nothing to do with it, the conversation will inevitably turn into them asking me about the virus,” Kline said. “All we can do is ensure them that we are taking all the necessary precautions and that their loved ones are in good care.”

Beyond the limits placed on visitors, Fairlane Gardens has also prohibited outside doctor appointments beyond essential appointments. Furthermore, the nursing home has designated the living quarters closest to the main doors for residents who are regularly coming and going as well as new admissions.

Group dining and group activities have been removed from the residents’ schedules. Rather, they now eat in their rooms and are visited by the activity directors each day to participate in individual exercises, crafts or games.

“They are really doing a great job,” Kline said when describing the activities department. “I will say that this entire experience has taught us about better teamwork, togetherness and professionalism.”

Though Kline is optimistic about the environment within the nursing home, she expressed concerns regarding how the coronavirus is being handled on a nationwide scale.

Valerie Kline (left) and co-worker Denise Nesbit (right) receive their masks at the beginning of their shift.
Photo taken by: Helen Deptula

“It’s disappointing that testing is so limited,” Kline said. “And it comes down to money. The entire NBA was tested, but when I think about it, really every resident and staff member should be tested.”

I do believe that the facility is doing all that they can to ensure the safety and health of the residents and staff. However, I was still concerned as to what would happen if a coronavirus case unfortunately occurs at Fairlane Gardens.

If someone within the facility gets the coronavirus, the state health department would come in to take control of the nursing home. At the time that the virus is determined, all staff members on duty will be forced to stay at the facility for two weeks.

The staff members being quarantined will have to rely on their own family or friends to bring a change of clothes and other essentials to leave outside the doors of the nursing home.

“We have also been told to expect that 30 percent of our residents will pass away if this happens,” Kline said.

From left to right: Valerie Kline. Sophia Matthews, David Golden, Denise Nesbit, Helen Deptula, Rebecca Gomez
Photo taken by: Desiree Washington

Around 16 nurses and nursing assistants work per shift to care for the 114 residents that reside in the nursing home. If a COVID-19 case occurs, the statistic set before them would mean that over 30 residents would pass away during span of the quarantine.

All staff members get their temperature taken both when they enter and exit the building. They are also told to report any virus symptoms that they are experiencing. A mask is provided for each nurse and nursing assistant per shift that they are to wear at all times.

The average workday that my mother experiences is far different than what it was just a few weeks prior. Because of the field she works in, she has no choice but to leave the safety of our home every day. I can only hope that others are doing what they can to social distance in order to preserve the well-being of healthcare providers and the residents within the facilities.

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