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Boreal Community Media

Exclusive: Life at the Cook County Care Center During COVID-19

May 04, 2020 12:31AM ● By Editor
Community members are encouraged to send mail, drawings or notes to the residents, as this really makes them smile. Photos submitted by Lisa Bloomquist

Exclusive to Boreal Community Media - May 4, 2020

Life has changed drastically for everyone around the world during the past few months.  Here in Grand Marais at the Cook County Care Center, staff have been working tirelessly to keep the residents safe.  How has this been affecting everyone? 

Kimber Wraalstad, is the CEO/Administrator of Cook County North Shore Hospital and Care Center.  She said that as COVID-19 started to become more prevalent, they began implementing screening procedures early in March in both hospital and Care Center.  They locked the public entrance doors.  They also started screening all staff at the employee entrance.  Staff had to answer symptom questions, have their temperature taken, and then do another screening during the shift. 

At the end of March, no more visitors were allowed into the building with the exception of compassion visits (end of life), which were handled on a case by case basis.  In turn, the staff began to offer Zoom and Facetime sessions with loved ones, in addition to phone calls.  They are asking that people do not walk up to resident's windows to visit.

Kimber stated that her staff are very accustomed to working with personal protective equipment and infection control processes.  As an entire organization, they have been working tirelessly on planning for when we do have confirmed cases in Cook County.  According to Kimber, the biggest benefit right now for residents is that they all have private rooms and private bathrooms. 

 The staff began to offer Zoom and Facetime sessions with loved ones, in addition to phone calls.  Submitted photo.

Lisa Bloomquist is the new Activities Director who took over after Belinda Hudler retired.  She said that they are trying to find more in-room activities, like Power Ball Bingo with weekly prizes.  The Lutheran Church is offering daily devotions to the residents.  Activities that stimulate the brain, such as fun facts and crossword puzzles, are being promoted with prizes.  Hallway bingo will be held twice a week starting the first week in May.  Lisa is also working on getting Scattegories and Ping Pong Ball in a Cup (how many balls can residents can bounce in their cup).

Lisa Bloomquist helps a resident connect with loved ones.

Lisa encourages community members to send mail, drawings or notes to the residents, as this really makes them smile.  Some donation ideas that can be mailed to Lisa’s attention are:

  • Clipboards
  • Ping pong balls
  • Plastic horseshoes
  • Monetary donations for flowers that Terra Bella delivers to the residents
  • Rubber chickens, about 12-18 inches long to do a hallway toss game

They are trying to come up with other games that residents can do together, yet apart, so if you have an idea email it to [email protected]

Local residents, Mark & Mary Glasnapp, share their experience of having a family member at the Care Center during time.  Mary’s mother, Nadine is a resident there.  Mary said that although it is nicer when they can visit her mother in person, it has been a pretty easy transition into talking on the phone every day and using an iPad for FaceTime 2-3 times a week.  

Nadine feels supported by her family even as they cannot physically come visit her..  She is cheerful and being well cared for, which makes her feel secure.  The staff has been great.  They take the iPad to Nadine and let her call Mary anytime she wants.  Mary said they are wonderful and very intuitive about their residents. Mary appreciates that they are doing the best they can given the lack of volunteers during this time.  They keep the residents informed about what is going on and also have sent emails to family, telling how things are going and changes that are being made.  They have set up an iPad and sent out the phone number to families so that they can call their loved ones in the Care Center.

Melodee Riddle’s father, Bob, is 97 years old and is also a resident at the Care Center.  Bob misses his hugs from his family, which is making him feel really isolated, lonely, and like he has been put up on a shelf.   He doesn’t understand why this is all such a big deal.  Melodee has a sister, Dawn, who works there and can check in on their dad.  Melodee calls her dad weekly to stay in touch.

Given the high risk of COVID-19 transmission spread inside of a long term care facility, everyone in the community would like to send all of our thanks to the heroes working there who are keeping the beloved residents safe from harm.  We appreciate all that you do, each and every day!

If you wish to send donations to the Activities Department, please mail them to Lisa Bloomquist, Activities Director, North Shore Health and Care Center, 515 5th Ave W, Grand Marais, MN 55604.