Rolla Presbyterian Manor takes slow and cautious approach to reopening
On summer mornings, before the heat of the day sets in, families visited the Rolla Presbyterian Manor campus to visit their families, this time without a window between them.
The community began socially distanced outdoor visits in July, starting with four 10-minute slots from 8–8:45 a.m. and three separate visiting stations. Senior leadership screened visitors, supervised the visits and sanitized surfaces in between.
“We try to implement the best idea, and if that doesn’t work, we try something different,” said Ann Caudill, executive director. “We always seem to come together to figure it out.”
For example, they started outdoor visits in the most accessible spot, but moved them to a quieter location behind the building so that everyone could hear each other.
Gradually, the community has begun to relax its COVID-19 measures, though everything looks different than before. For example, most residents may eat in the dining room, though they must sit one to a table.
Ann says that the cautious approach is out of concern for resident safety.
“I definitely don’t want to go backwards. In Phelps County, we are seeing more cases. We don’t have a lot of people wearing masks in the community, so we’re overly cautious with the residents.
“Having to close after opening is my greatest fear, because I don’t think the residents could deal with that very well,” she said. “We’re just holding our breath, waiting for the county numbers to come down so we can move onto the next step.”
In the meantime, staff has pitched in to get residents through safely and provide great customer service. Members of the leadership team have adjusted their schedules so that two managers are working every Saturday and Sunday. Carmen Payne, the dining services director, has a cosmetology license. She and Joy Parker teamed up to wash and cut residents’ hair. Activities staff lead bingo games and exercise classes in the hallway, so residents can participate in their doorways.
Ann spent so much time on the phone updating family members that she collected everyone’s email addresses and is now sending regular updates in addition to answering calls. She said they will definitely continue that practice, even when the pandemic is over.
“I’ve talked to more family members than ever before,” she said.
The pandemic has put a lot of their plans on hold, including a fundraising campaign to build a solarium for the memory care unit. Ann is already starting to think what Thanksgiving might look like, and how they can adapt their tradition of having a large meal with residents and their family members.
“These are the kind of events we’re most looking forward to,” she said.
In the meantime, Ann and other staff members are doing what they can to keep residents safe, both inside and out of work time. For example, when they get together, Ann and her family stay outside and wear masks.
“I go to work, I come home. I hardly go to the grocery store, because I don’t want to bring the virus in,” she said. “Although it’s not the same as for the residents, I’m feeling isolated, too. At least inside our community, we’re all together.”