It seems fitting the sun was out in full force Sunday to greet the residents of Maple View who are emerging from a month-long COVID-19 outbreak.
“Getting residents outside even for short jaunts and visiting with their family members from a distance – over our fence – that natural Vitamin D does wonders for everybody,” said Tracee Givens, Maple View Long-Term Care’s executive director.
In what is being called a miracle by some, not a single resident or staff member was hospitalized despite the vast spread of COVID-19 within the home.
Everyone has now recovered.
“Some people have called it a miracle, and if that’s the case we’ll run with it, definitely, but team Maple View has always been very dedicated and committed,” Givens said.
The COVID-19 outbreak at Maple View was officially declared over by the Grey Bruce Health Unit this past Friday. It started on April 1 when a staff member tested positive for the virus.
By the middle of the month, more testing had revealed 22 of the 29 residents at the home and 15 staff members all contracted the virus.
Around the same time, long-term care homes in Bobcaygeon, Montreal and Toronto were experiencing a deadly fallout from COVID-19’s rapid spread.
Givens said staff at Maple View couldn’t help but think of the worst possible outcome.
“All we knew were those situations that were not so positive. Boy, I think every single one of us thought, oh my goodness,” she said. “As each day went by, and we saw the positives, every single day, it certainly supported the spirits of everybody . . . we gained momentum.”
Givens said some of the residents who tested positive inside the home remained asymptomatic, and others quickly improved.
Staff tried to keep spirits high by playing hallway bingo and conducting singalong sessions as the patients remained isolated in their rooms.
Staff shortages were supplemented by creative scheduling, increased hours, and volunteers from the community stepping forward to fill the gaps.
“We just dug deep and supported one another and we managed,” Givens said. “We were very fortunate that we had members of the community that stepped up and offered their services. That really did help. If we didn’t have them, certainly it would have been more challenging.”
As of May 1, residents were given the all-clear.
Life isn’t exactly back to normal at Maple View, however. Physical distancing, visitor restrictions, and active daily screening of both staff and residents are still necessary realities as community spread of the virus is still very much active.
Maple View has installed plexiglass table dividers in the dining room that will allow people to sit together while limiting any potential virus transmission.
Staff are on the lookout for symptoms as well.
“If we have concerns at all, you bet we would be testing again,” Givens said.
But, compared to living through a month-long outbreak, the residents are breathing a little easier. Givens thinks the “tight-knit family” may even be better for the experience.
“We’ve always been a tight-knit family and tight-knit community at Maple View . . . we experienced so many different emotions together,” she said. “We travelled the journey of COVID-19 together. We’ve had some tears. We’ve had lots of laughs. We tried to keep going, and we all pulled through together. It has brought us even closer together.”