In his latest coronavirus update to Alamance County’s commissioners, the county’s health director was joined by three long-term care administrators who offered the county’s elected leaders a first-hand perspective on their ongoing battles with COVID-19.
These three guest presenters, who briefed the commissioners via the Zoom teleconferencing platform on Tuesday, included Michelle Riordan of White Oak Manor, which had experienced a particularly severe outbreak of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. Riordan recalled that a total of 85 residents and 49 employees ultimately came down with the virus after a staff member tested positive on April 27.
“It was quite overwhelming. After six weeks, which seems like an eternity, we started to see recovery. The staff here are forever changed. They’re a little stronger but we’ve had a little PTSD as well.”
– Michelle Riordan, White oak manor
“It was quite overwhelming,” she went on to admit. “After six weeks, which seems like an eternity, we started to see recovery. The staff here are forever changed. They’re a little stronger but we’ve had a little PTSD as well.”
Riordan conceded that White Oak Manor has seen another 18 employees and 2 residents contract COVID-19 since the initial outbreak ran its course. She nevertheless added that White Oak Manor has recently commissioned Walgreens to dispense the vaccine, which has so far been administered to 84 percent of the facility’s residents and 25 percent of its staff.
The commissioners also heard from Ed Weeks from Blakey Hall, which also suffered an outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.
“[O]nce it’s in the building, you’re pretty much along for the ride.”
– Ed Weeks, Blakey Hall
“We were lucky enough to make it through September without having any positive cases,” he recalled. “But once it’s in the building, you’re pretty much along for the ride.”
Weeks added that the outbreak began in Blakey Hall’s dementia unit, whose 16 beds were all occupied when the virus first struck. By the time that the outbreak petered out, Weeks said that only 9 of the 16 beds remained occupied as residents succumbed to the virus or were moved to other facilities. In the meantime, he said that the virus has spread to Blakey Hall’s main building, which he acknowledged was still under the outbreak designation
Weeks told the commissioners that, in addition to the ravages of the virus itself, many of Blakey Hall’s residents have struggled with the feelings of isolation and depression that have accompanied the coronavirus pandemic.
“On the good side of things, we were able to get our vaccination today,” he added. “We made an effort to get the staff to trust [the vaccine], and we were even able to change a few minds [from reluctance to acceptance of the vaccine].”
Springview Assisted Living
The sense of hope that has arrived with the vaccine has, likewise, been evident for Beverly Dix McHugh with from Springview Assisted Living – a “community” of 10 “smaller facilities” in the Burlington area. McHugh told the commissioners that Springview managed to stave off the virus until its first outbreak began on November 30. She nevertheless added that morale has improved significantly with the arrival of the vaccine, which all but one of Springview’s residents have agreed to receive. McHugh acknowledged that 23 percent of her staff has resisted inoculation.
“I have initiated a ‘hope bonus’ for folks that get completely inoculated against the virus,” she added, “and that has changed a couple of minds…I’m looking to the next chapter when things can improve inside the facility for the residents.”
See related story in this week’s edition:
Health director updates commissioners on status of COVID spread, vaccine: https://alamancenews.com/health-director-vaccine-provides-reason-for-hope-amid-continued-spread-of-covid/