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Families, community support MCMCF

ISHPEMING — The sun was shining in more ways than one at the Marquette County Medical Care Facility in west Ishpeming on Wednesday. More than 100 vehicles, many of them decorated with balloons and signs with expressions of love and support, participated in a car parade honoring the residents and workers at the facility.

It’s been over two months since family and friends of nursing home residents have been permitted to have in-person visits due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. And that can take a toll on morale for both staff and residents, MCMCF administrative assistant Sherri Hewitt said.

“The visiting restrictions (mean) that we are unable to let any type of visitors in. Any nonessential people are not to enter the building at this time. We have had these restrictions since (the) beginning of March so the residents haven’t seen their families except for via FaceTime or to talk on the telephone,” Hewitt said. “One of the biggest hurdles is that some of our residents don’t understand why their families haven’t been able to come and see them or that they are sad due to they just miss their family. We love our residents almost as much as their families but it’s still not the same.”

She said most of the residents who saw their families in the parade had “happy tears.”

“(They were) blowing kisses and just yelling “I love you” to their families,” she said. Residents (were) poking the staff to say ‘there they are.’ Many of the staff had happy tears for the residents also. I think today was so important to have both families and residents see each other to know that they both are healthy and well.”

But it wasn’t just family members, Hewitt said, there were also community members who simply came out to show support for MCMCF’s 125 residents.

The parade was described on the MCMCF Facebook page as an “enormous success” which evoked “so much emotion it was impossible for everyone to contain it.”

The post states that the facility continues to monitor residents twice daily for symptoms of the virus, and residents wear masks as much as they can tolerate. The staff continues social distancing as much as possible, and all direct care staff wear surgical procedure masks while ancillary staff continue to wear cloth masks.

The facility reported one positive coronavirus test result on March 20, but has not had any other cases of the virus since that day despite testing of numerous residents and staff.

The facility has set up its rehabilitation wing as an isolation unit. Any resident showing COVID-19 symptoms is brought to that wing until the results of the test come back.

“Once results are received, we continue to follow CDC and Marquette County Health Department guidelines. We also use the 700 wing for new admissions,” the post states. “In order to provide continuity of care and to limit possible exposure to the virus, we have the same staff working consistently on the 700 wing.”

The facility is working toward a time when nursing homes will gradually reopen to the public

“Based on the guidance we have read up to this time, we presume we need to perform surveillance testing of all residents and staff for Coronavirus but this may change,” the post states. “All residents/families will be receiving consent letters next week to allow us to do this when the time comes. We also will continue to perform testing on residents that present with symptoms, per the CDC.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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