We took a leap of faith, and we won with Maefair
The heart-breaking images of window visits with loved ones in nursing homes was a constant reminder this past year of the toll COVID-19 was taking not only on health but on emotions.
Those images of virtual hugs and kisses through glass partitions are now being replaced with real, heart-warming human interactions between loved ones at Athena Health Care facilities in Connecticut, including Maefair Health Care Center in Trumbull and Northbridge Health Care Center in Bridgeport. The relaxing of some pandemic regulations by state officials, coupled with climbing vaccination rates among the general public and the Athena Health Care staff, led to the revision of indoor visitation policies at Maefair and Northbridge.
“Indoor visits are now possible. We look forward to welcoming families, entertainers and community friends back into our buildings, and we thank our staff for everything they did over the last year to support our communities and our families,” said Tim Brown, spokesman for Athena Health Care Systems.
While new admissions were never restricted, they are on the rise now at the Athena Health Care facilities. Athena is a recognized leader in senior care and is one of the largest managers of skilled nursing services in Connecticut and beyond. Athena provides wide-ranging, and in some cases award-winning services. Maefair Health Care Center in Trumbull and Northbridge Health Care Center both offer short and long-term rehabilitation, respite, hospice and dementia care. Their dedicated staff provides individualized care with compassion, dignity and respect.
“I am so grateful to Maefair. My mother-in-law needed short-term rehab, and I was so worried because of the pandemic. We took a leap of faith, and we won with Maefair. The whole process at Maefair was just great,” said Maria P.
Brown said Athena is following all guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the state Department of Public Health, keeping the safety of clients and staff foremost in mind. “We have strong infection prevention practices in place, and our staff are well-educated and experienced,” Brown said.
For those people who may still feel uncomfortable with in-person visits Brown said outdoor and window visits are still available, and so are virtual visits over the internet. In fact, iPads have become quite popular with clients in the last year, and not just to “meet” with family and friends or to play video games, word searches and crossword puzzles. Residents are now using them to stream movies, listen to music, and telehealth doctor visits, Brown said.
One positive that emerged from the pandemic is the establishment of an ambassador program at Maefair and Northbridge. The full-time ambassador is an extra set of hands, ears and eyes for the staff who works with residents training them on the I-pads or simple offering companionship. The year-long pandemic has increased isolation.
Athena’s corporate office also just hired a director of wellness who will provide residents with programs for stress management and mental health and develop intergenerational programs. The idea is to care for the residents, mind, body and soul, a whole person-centered approach, Brown said.