This car parade on April 26 in Arichat included local RCMP officers, EHS personnel and volunteer firefighters to boost the morale of St. Ann Community and Nursing Care Centre residents.

ARICHAT: An Isle Madame health care facility continues to weather the COVID-19 storm, as others across the province suffer transmission, spread, and even fatalities.

St. Ann Community and Nursing Care Centre administrator Annette Fougere said residents and staff are admirably dealing with restrictions put in place when the provincial government declared a state of emergency in mid-March.

Perhaps the most significant change is that Long-Term Care facilities are closed to the public, including highly-anticipated visits from family and friends.

Fougere said St. Ann has had to improvise, and instead of face-to-face visits, they have taken advantage of available technology like Messenger Video, FaceTime and Skype.

“Visitor restrictions will be on for some time,” Fougere noted. “We have a lot of visitations through the window. Some people bring their cellphone and residents have their phones, and they talk that way.”

The administrator said they have lifted some restrictions, like gifts or care packages for residents, many of which arrived on Mother’s Day.

“Under our direction from infection control provincially, there’s a method of how to receive those without risking the chance of COVID entering the building,” Fougere noted. “That’s also a morale booster for the residents. And families love to provide things for them. They feel so at a loss of what to do to help them. It helps both families and the residents.”

Another change will be that when the temperatures rise and days get nicer, residents will be able to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, she noted.

“Once the weather gets a little bit warmer, they’ll be out on the patio,” Fougere explains.

Fougere said without a dedicated and caring staff, this would have been a much more difficult time.

“I’m very, very fortunate my staff have stepped up to the plate,” she stated. “I’ve got some really great leaders in the building amongst the [Registered Nurses], the [Licensed Practical Nurses] especially, and my supervisors, departmental supervisors, my finance staff. I delegate a fair bit of tasks to them and they’ve stepped up to the plate and done that.

“The staff are coming to work. I know some of the facilities have some issues with some people showing up for work, because they’re scared. But we have tried and gone to a lot of lengths to make sure the staff know that they’re safe here. We meet up with them on a regular basis just to discuss anything new that’s come down information-wise, any changes we’re making and why. They’ve really stepped up. I really don’t have many attendance issues these days.”

Although staff at St. Ann don’t have much of a social life these days, outside of interacting with co-workers and residents, Fougere said they continue to work hard, even volunteering on their own time, just to make this experience bearable.

“They’re helping with things that volunteers would normally have done,” she noted. “Bingo is a big hit in this building, so once or twice a week, they call bingo, they help the residents manage their cards.”

The administrator said the facility currently has an activity director and physiotherapy assistant, and will soon hire a student to help residents fill their time and cope with loneliness.

“But they’re keeping their wits about them, I have to say,” Fougere said of the residents. “They understand that fact that they’re safe and the measures that we’re using to keep them that way.

“They understand the other side of it.”