Local long-term care facility details changes inside nursing homes since pandemic hit

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the country, many businesses have reopened their doors to the public. However, that hasn’t happened at many nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Just days before the very first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Oklahoma, KFOR spoke with a long-term care provider that was taking precautionary steps on their own to help combat the virus.

Now exactly five months later, we spoke with them again to detail just how much has changed for those living in their nursing and rehabilitation facilities.

“It’s not ‘if it’s going to come here.’ It’s ‘COVID-19 will be here,’” Diakonos Group Chief Operating Officer Kimberly Green told KFOR back in March.

That was five months ago. 

Back then, they were still allowing visitors into their 20 nursing and rehab facilities across the state.

Today, things aren’t the same.

“How has it been different since we talked? It’s an entirely different world now,” Green said. “Now it’s basically like something you would see out of a movie. Everyone has to stay in their rooms. Dining rooms are empty. There’s no group activities.”

As other businesses are working out ways to safely reopen, nursing facilities can’t risk it.

Families are left seeing their loved ones through glass windows. 

And nursing care employees are wearing even more hats.

“Now we’re everything. We’re the daughter that used to come on Sunday. We’re the ones that need to sit down and play the games and to read the books and to open mail,” Green said.

But the effects are most difficult for the residents.

“We’re seeing lots of depression,” Green said. “People not wanting to eat. Not wanting to talk. Not wanting to get out of bed.”

Green says the group has been struggling with the cost of testing. And they’re not getting any more help from the government.

“Yet we’re supposed to be testing constantly,” Green said. “How do we do that when we’re not getting the tests we need? The tests we are getting have to be for surveillance testing and we’re only getting enough for three weeks.”

But she still believes things could have been different if something was done to prevent the spread sooner. 

“My concern is I’m going to watch people die. My staff is gonna watch people die,” Green said. “Our hopes are that this virus disappears.”

Still, she is holding onto hope for better testing and resources for long-term care facilities across the nation.

Diakonos Group says as of right now they are planning on the pandemic continuing through at least March. And are working out how to continue to support their residents and staff through that time.

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