Marta Lovika visits her husband Retired Lieutenant Commander, David Atkinson, through the window at Oyster Harbour (Submitted photo)

Oyster Harbour adapts to keep residents safe and connected during COVID-19

The ban on visitors has been the hardest adjustment for residents

Across the nation, and across the world, long-term care facilities for seniors have been some of the areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. At Ladysmith’s Oyster Harbour, (formerly known as the Lodge on 4th), there have been no reported cases of COVID-19, and the staff intend to keep it that way.

“We’re following the B.C. provincial orders,” Oyster Harbour manager, Tracey McKee said.

“No visitors are coming into the facility. We do daily screening of the residents, and staff when they enter and exit the building. We change our clothes, we wash our hands many times in a day, we wear masks with all direct patient care, and we have extra cleaning in place for all our high touch point areas.”

Of all the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the ban on visitors has been the most difficult for Oyster Harbour residents.

“Residents want to see their loved ones, and their families want to see them too,” McKee said.

To combat the loneliness imposed by visitor restrictions, Oyster Harbour recreation coordinator, Angelina Passarelli has worked to set up phone calls, face time visits, and even window visits for some residents and their loved ones.

“We’re adapting to fit the individual needs and abilities of the residents, and we’re adapting to the current climate,” Passarelli said.

Normally Oyster Harbour is bustling with volunteers, visitors, and group activities. With all that off the table for the duration of the pandemic, staff have worked to find creative solutions to give residents the comfort and care they’re accustomed to. Passarelli said that staff are working to make residents feel safe, and feel loved.

“Safety is our top focus. And connection – whatever that looks like, in the safest way possible,” she said. “It’s really getting to know each resident, and finding ways to make their days better.”

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