HARTLEY – It was a zoo at the Community Memorial Health Center in Hartley on Wednesday, May 12, but in a good way.
Students from the FFA section of Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn High School brought a menagerie of animals to brighten the day for residents of the long-term care facility as part of National Skilled Nursing Week.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to walk into the nursing home to visit residents, especially since many residents have been locked out over the past year,” said the councilor. the FFA, Michele Wagner.
Residents were able to pet a yellow Labrador, lambs, a goat, a rabbit and several chicks. Sophomore Joe Billings also brought a cow, which residents could see outside through the assembly room windows.
The FFA Children’s Zoo was just one of many activities held at the center this week to highlight the work of skilled nurses. Each day of the week, the property organizes seasonal themed activities for staff and residents.
Monday, May 10, was the “Spring Fling”, in which residents decorated sugar cookies and paper bags, in which they also enjoyed packed lunches. They also potted geraniums that had been donated to the center.
The theme for Tuesday May 11 was “Hawaiian Luau,” which involved grilling for a picnic-style lunch and decorating the building with Hawaiian decor. Students from Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn Elementary School also came to draw chalk on the sidewalk outside the building for residents to see. Games such as Hula-Hoop competitions took place this afternoon.
Besides the petting zoo, Wednesday’s’ Summer County Fair Day ‘also featured carnival games, decorations, clown costumes worn by staff, and a show where residents could throw pies in staff members’ faces. .
An “Oktoberfest” theme dominated Thursday, May 13, and involved German dishes served and a dog parade featuring dachshunds and other dog breeds.
The week ended on Friday May 14 with a “Winter Carnival” which included a lunch of chili and cinnamon buns, Christmas decorations, as well as a Nerf “Hunt the Snowman” pistol contest and a fake snowball fight.
Administrator Janette Simon said the week has been very different from last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. At this point last May, residents mostly stayed in their rooms to avoid the potential spread of the virus.
“It was really hard to do anything fun collectively because we were still all kidnapped,” said Simon. “With some of the loosening of protocols, spring and sun, etc., all of our spirits are turned up and people are just ready to socialize and have fun and be silly.”
She said a high percentage of staff and residents at the center had received the COVID-19 vaccine, which allowed the facility to slightly modify the mitigation measures in place for the pandemic.
For example, Community Memorial Health was able to allow room visits to residents’ relatives. Visitors should plan their arrival in advance and are screened upon entering the facility.
If a visitor and resident are fully vaccinated, they can be in the resident’s room without wearing a mask. If visitors are not fully immunized, they should wear a mask when in the room.
Visits only take place if residents are comfortable with them.
“Some people are still a little leery of not knowing the efficiency rate fully, so we are just respecting their wishes and what they feel comfortable doing,” said Simon.
All staff continue to wear masks when working, and staff who are not fully vaccinated wear face shields in addition to their masks. They are also screened for symptoms of COVID-19 at the door and are tested for the virus once a week.
Simon said she and the staff were happy to have had their spirits up this week with the fun activities. She also said how happy she and everyone at the center were to have made it through to 2020.
“We feel very lucky to have this year behind us and to be optimistic about the future.”