Although COVID-19 has been with us since last March, it hit Johnson Memorial Health Services especially hard in December. The hospital experienced an increase in census with both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients and the clinic’s drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic has had days where the lines are 8-10 cars deep. The care center and assisted living both experienced an outbreak that deeply impacted residents, tenants, their families and staff.
On November 29 one resident tested positive for COVID-19, by December 2, there were 11 more. JMHS had 24 positive residents by December 7 and a COVID-19 unit was established in the River Road Neighborhood in the Care Center. Contract staff was retained to help in the COVID-19 unit, the US Public Health Services agency brought out 12 personnel (10 of which were Registered Nurses) to assist for a week during the Outbreak. When they exited, they were followed by 14 members of the National Guard (3 Registered Nurses and 11 Basic Care Aides).
“We are so grateful to receive this extra help since many of our staff were out on COVID-19 quarantine or isolation during the initial outbreak,” said Stacey Lee, CEO. “It’s been amazing to see how everyone worked together and the support we have received from the residents, tenants, families, and the community.”
To date 28 care center residents and 5 assisted living tenants have tested positive. The staff, residents, and tenants have done their best to remain positive, resilient, and hopeful during the COVID-19 Outbreak but
the need to isolate positive residents and tenants is hard on them and their families. Virtual visits via zoom calls, telephone calls, and window visits through closed windows are being utilized but don’t offer the same connection as in person visits. During this time some residents have passed, some due to COVID-19 and others due to other health conditions. This has been extremely tough on the residents, their families, and the staff.
While this has been an extremely difficult time for JMHS, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Most of the residents will come off of quarantine this week and the River Road neighborhood will once again become a neighborhood and not a COVID-19 Unit. Residents will be able to join in small group activities, and eat in the dining rooms – six feet apart of course. The assisted living tenants will also be able to resume normal non-outbreak activities next week.
December 21, 2020 the hospital and clinic front line staff will receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccinations in the care center and assisted living will begin at the end of December. The COVID-19 vaccine provides hope for a new chapter in the fight against this virus. The vaccine works with the immune system to help fight the virus if you are exposed. Getting these shots will help protect our residents, tenants, staff and community from being infected; and will help us take a big step towards ending this pandemic.
JMHS will continue to provide you updates on the COVID-19 situation on our campus in our community as well as updates on the vaccine. We are so appreciative of the support and cooperation you all have given us during these past months. Together, we’re moving toward a COVID-free future.