Baby steps to normalcy at nursing homes

Jaclyn Harold
Updated: May 22, 2020 09:27 PM
Created: May 22, 2020 09:22 PM

(ABC 6 News) - With the state moving towards a reopen in June, senior living facilities will remain closed to the public.

Back in March when COVID-19 cases began to develop in Minnesota, senior care facilities including nursing homes assisted living and any other long term care programs went on lockdown immediately.


The New York Times reported that more than 1/3 of COVID deaths are associated with nursing homes in the United States, making the population among the most vulnerable to the virus.

"Our facility specifically, has done facility-wide testing for both staff and residents. All negative," said Joseph Mason, the Administrator of Prairie Manor Inc. 

The company oversees two facilities, Prairie Manor Care Center and Heather Haus Assisted Living. With the responsibility to care for some of those that are most vulnerable to COVID, the facility stopped all non-essential visitors from coming in, but not necessarily keeping residents from going out.

Mason said "this is not a prison," residents are not required to stay at the facility, but when they leave, no matter the time frame, there are a few steps they have to take to reenter.

"No matter how long you were out or where you went or who you are, anyone who enters the building has to immediately hand sanitize, put on a mask, get their temperature taken and symptoms checked," said Mason. 

The Minnesota Department of Health held a briefing on Wednesday where they addressed some of the concerns surrounding long-term care facilities, and Mason said re-opening was not a part of the conversation. 

One of the concerns mentioned did talk about accepted recovered COVID patients back into the facility or dealing with a positive case.

"If you test positive, you're going to be isolated for, I want to say 14 days. Then we have them retest at the end. If they test positive again, then we constantly have them retested until they have two negative tests," said Mason.

According to Twin Cities Pioneer Press, the facilities in Blooming Prairie have no reported cases, and until further notice they will remain closed to the public.  

Mason said however, they are looking to take baby steps to allow the residents to gather safely in the same area again.

"Minnesota Department of Health did approve communal dinning to reopen in facilities and I think that might be the first step that we take once again, don't know the date, could be a week could be a month but that's probably going to be the first step that we do," he said.

Communal dining would require the proper social distancing recommendations, and cleaning.


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