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Masonicare battling COVID and loneliness with resident-centered care

A 104-year-old Masonicare resident has survived COVID-19.

WALLINGFORD, Conn. — The situation in Connecticut nursing homes is serious. For the last week of data 306 more nursing home, residents contracted COVID-19, while 39 more lost their life. But even among so much tragedy, there are stories of hope and some smiles too.

Headquartered in Wallingford, Masonicare is one of the largest companies providing elder care to Connecticut residents. From the nursing home setting to assisted living, home care, and hospice. They’ve been battling COVID just like everybody else, but they’ve also been making sure residents are able to maintain their social and emotional health.

From outdoor dance parties to Thanksgiving food drops, reverse trick or treating, virtual cooking classes, smile parades, and even a mobile happy hour. Elderly residents are even spreading that cheer to the staff through video messages to the healthcare workers who’ve been putting in a Herculean effort to keep COVID at bay. "Thank you for showing up each day despite your own personal risks and challenges and not just showing up but showing up with a full heart," remarked one resident.

So Masonicare’s resident-centered mission marches on...pandemic or not.  Ann Collette, the Vice President of Marketing for Masonicare said, "There are happy stories that are emerging despite all of the challenges."

A vaccine is just weeks away and it will save lives...but..."It’s not going to be the end all be all immediately. Masks stay on, social distancing continues," said Collette.

Right now, 45 people have COVID in Masonicare’s nursing home setting and 26 staff are out with the virus. "I can tell you that there has been a significant uptick here," said Collette. But look harder and there’s another story of hope. "Despite the numbers and the uptick, we are seeing people recovering and fewer people are going to the hospital. I just received a call earlier today from my CEO who is so excited to talk about a resident here who is 104 and she recovered."

With community spread still on the rise, Masonicare just made the switch from surgical masks to N95’s and they’ve partnered with Yale Health to turn their parking lot into a community testing site by December 7th. "Yale had hoped to bring testing capability to this area because it seemed like there was a large amount of folks from this area and surrounding communities that were going all the way to New Haven."

Masonicare, like most long-term care facilities, played host to the emotional window visits early in the pandemic and briefly had outdoor visits in the summer. But with the weather getting cold, they know isolation and loneliness is another hill to climb, especially around the holidays. "No one wants to have to put a center in lockdown and keep people away from their loved ones, but it became the absolute necessity," said Collette.

So, the battle continues. Long-term care facilities continue to test residents and staff for COVID weekly. And in more good news the CDC just announced long-term care facilities will be first in line to get the vaccine.