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Presbyterian Manor staff easing into reopening

Parsons Presbyterian Manor staff have been key to keeping residents safe from COVID-19, said Executive Director Maegen Pegues.

“I’ve been so proud of how seriously our staff has taken the pandemic,” she said. “In addition to working more than usual, they have all made changes in their personal lives in order to stay as healthy as possible and lessen their risk of exposure.”

That includes wearing a mask in public and being mindful of where they go outside of work. Staff have also communicated with leadership any time they have had concerns about potential exposure.

These preventative measures are essential as Maegen and her leadership team have gradually lifted some restrictions.

“Right now, we’re looking at what we can resume,” she said. “It’s a day-by-day thing in our areas, since we are still seeing a fair amount of cases rising in the wider community. That makes us a little apprehensive about letting new people in the building.”

Family may make compassionate care visits to residents who are receiving hospice services, though staff still have to evaluate how many people can come in and who is considered safe based on a variety of factors.

“Every time you let a new person in the building, that exposure risk is there, so the biggest challenge is policing that,” Maegen said. “We’re trying to be very proactive with communication to residents and families about the challenges we’re facing. We always try to explain why we are making the decisions we’re making.”

Bingo has moved from the hallways, where residents once played while stationed in their doorways, to the chapel and dining area, where residents play in small, socially distanced groups.

Presbyterian Manor had a scare early on when a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, which necessitated quarantines for multiple other staff.

“There was a two-week period where we basically didn’t have a dining services staff,” Maegen said. “But everyone rose to the occasion to cover that need. No one wants to go through that again.”

The community outsourced meal preparation, and staff members from other areas pitched in to deliver meals to residents’ doors.

Since March, staff have stepped up to spend more one-on-one time with residents and perform tasks that families usually take care of.

“We’ve always had strong relationships with residents, but right now, we are taking the place of family and friends who can’t be in the building,” Maegen said. “I’ve been very impressed with the creativity staff has shown in keeping residents connected with their families, especially for birthdays and other special occasions.”

Staff have collaborated with families to organize surprise parties. An aide will bring residents to a downstairs window so they can see their families, many of whom bring decorated signs and treats to share. Window visits in general have been so popular that there are now designated rooms reserved for this purpose.

Maegen looks forward to being able to offer residents more choice again, as the resident experience is something she and her staff pride themselves on.

They also can’t wait to welcome families back in the building.

“We miss them almost as much as they miss their loved ones,” Maegen said.

She is appreciative of the understanding and support she has received from both residents and their families.

“They have been so positive,” Maegen said. “That is hard to maintain as we’re going on six months of this now.”

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