When I visited dad last week there were signs at the door stating that there was a gastrointestinal illness that was going through the facility and that residents were confined to their rooms.
I went to dad’s room and he seemed fine. He was sitting in his Lazy Boy as usual and we talked about the illness in the facility and about other things. I told him it was very cold out and the weather was forecast to get much worse. I said I wasn’t sure when I would visit next, but I hoped to come in on Friday. Dad seemed fine with that.
While I was there two staff came to his door bring the first part of his lunch, soup and a drink and they said they would come later with the rest of his meal – a sandwich I think was what he had ordered. They set him up using his walker seat as his table so he could eat from his chair. He really doesn’t have a table in his room.
When I left, the halls were freezing. I noticed that the outside door at the end of the hall was propped open. It is a violation of the fire code and it was only 20 degrees outside so the whole place was very cold. I asked the aides about it. They said the smell in the building had been very bad due to the diarrhea and vomiting and that was why the door was open. I said it was very cold for the residents and I didn’t think it was a good idea.
I was going to speak to the nurse or director about it but they both looked so busy that I didn’t say anything more. I sometimes hold my tongue when I really feel I should speak up because I want to prioritize my complaints and not complain about everything.
I did an online search of these type epidemics (norvirus like) in congregate living facilities and found that the CDC recommends keeping all windows closed to reduce the drafts. The idea is to keep any virus particles on the rugs and furniture from becoming airborne in a breeze. This facility doesn’t seem to have gotten that message.
I know they are not a nursing home where they would have more nurses and staff would be better trained about how to clean up after such sick residents. I am thankful that at least they have one nurse, as assisted living facilities are not required to have nurses.
On Wednesday I telephoned the ALF and spoke with the nurse. She said dad had been sick in the night (vomiting) but seemed fine this morning. He was confined to his room as all the residents were. I called dad and spoke with him and he said he felt fine and that he understood they were all to stay in their rooms.
I called every day all week and spoke both with the staff and with dad. The staff told me they were all to remain in their rooms until Friday when they finally lifted the self-imposed quarantine. When I talked to dad on Thursday I mentioned the quarantine. He said “I know we are all supposed to stay in our rooms, and that is exactly what I am doing!” His short-term memory seemed to be working OK for him this week.
I still haven’t visited dad because I am trying to avoid the illness. My son said he would not go on Sunday because he caught the bug last year when it was going through the facility. I said I would wait until after I have my grandson over tomorrow so that I won’t bring any illness to him. So I have gone almost a week since seeing dad.
This morning I called again to see how things were at the ALF and was told that most people are over the illness now and dad is doing well. He didn’t answer the phone when I called him today but they said he was in the lounge.
We have been having frigid weather lately with lots of snow. When I finally get out onto plowed roads, I feel like I should be visiting dad, but I am waiting till after I spend time with my grandson. I feel torn between my father and my children and grand children. I plan to see dad the day after I have my grandson here with me.
Dad doesn’t complain, but I know he has missed seeing me. One day when I called last week he asked me where I was. I told him I was at home but couldn’t come in because of the illness going around. He understands when I tell him, but then later forgets.
I will be glad when I can just visit him again.