Westhaven Nursing and Rehabilitation continues to grapple with an outbreak of COVID-19 that has to date infected 34 of its 54 residents. It also reports that 14 staff members have tested positive for the virus.
Families and residents are doing what they can to stay in contact but many haven’t been able to touch their loved ones or sit in the same room with them since May.
After months of being locked down, Westhaven was about to open for visitation in late July when someone affiliated with the facility tested positive for COVID-19, sending it back into lockdown.
Although that case turned out to be a false positive, infections in the state continued to rise and visitation at long-term care facilities has effectively been suspended since spring.
Westhaven resident Sandy Ness said she feels fortunate to have a private room and have reading and music to keep her busy, but she’s sure some residents, who might have already been depressed, are becoming more depressed.
The residents of Westhaven who aren’t infected with COVID-19 are being encouraged to limit their interactions with each other and Ness said she spends most of her time in her room with the door shut. It’s not as hard as it could be, she said, because having a room to herself gives her more space and her family visits her often.
Her husband Clayton comes every day to stand outside her window and talk to her on the phone. Her daughter drives from Tulsa to visit every other week.
She knows not being able to visit her as usual is stressful for her family, especially when they’re worried about the virus outbreak.
Her son Chris Ness says he’s worried and frustrated with the situation.
He hasn’t been able to get close to his mom for almost five months and it makes him angry when he sees people out in the community who don't seem to be taking the virus seriously. He imagines that's how the virus made its way into Westhaven, which is filled with elderly and medically vulnerable people.
"That's why we wear masks," Chris said. "You never know if the person next to you is a caregiver."
Although he believes the staff at Westhaven is doing everything they can to protect her and the other residents, he still wishes the family had decided to take Sandy home before it was too late.
He acknowledges it would be hard to give her the care she needs at home. But the distance and the potential danger eats at him as he thinks about the bout of pneumonia that threatened her life last year.
“I literally just want to break a window and get her out of there,” he said.
Sandy isn’t as worried as her son. The staff is doing a good job of keeping an eye on residents and is being very careful with them, she said.
Director of Nursing Jennifer McGrew said Westhaven is screening uninfected residents for symptoms and taking their temperatures at least three times a day.
Greg Swain of Stillwater shares the same frustration and concern about not being able to visit his mother Charlene, but also says the staff at Westhaven seems to be taking good care of everyone.
He’s been impressed with their efforts.
Two COVID-19 units and a quarantine unit have been set up to separate residents and reduce the risk of transmission, McGrew previously told the News Press.
At this time, only two residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19 related symptoms. Neither required ICU care and one has already been released to Westhaven, McGrew said. She expects the second patient to also be released soon.
The facility just completed another round of testing for residents and staff and should have updated numbers by early next week.