With the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been a top concern due to the vulnerability of the residents. The virus is seen to be particularly harmful to senior citizens and those who have underlying health issues.

According to Wendy Staats of the Jackson County Health Department, the three facilities in Jackson County (Ravenswood Village, Eldercare, and Ravenswood Care Center) have varying protocols in place to address the COVID-19 situation.

“We are in contact with all three,” she said. “And we monitor their information.”

Ravenswood Village, operated by Genesis HealthCare, is located on Ritchie Avenue in Ravenswood.

Lori Mayer, spokesperson for the facility, says the management team, clinical leadership, and chief medical officer have been meeting regularly to address concerns since the outbreak began in China.

All protocol and guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have been followed.

“Since early March we have had in place enhanced patient and employee screenings and precautions,” Mayer said. “We are actively screening and taking temperatures of all staff upon entering the building, sending home anyone who has a fever or symptoms. Every staff member is required to wear personal protective equipment, including universal face masks, eye protection and gloves.”

Most recently, residents and patients have been restricted to their rooms. Twice a day, all temperatures and conditions are monitored. In addition, no visitors are allowed in the facility.

During this difficult and stressful time for all concerned, the staff at Ravenswood Village is trying to make the situation as bearable as possible.

“We have implemented video conferencing calls,” Mayer said. “While they can’t visit in person, this does help.”

In addition, special activities have been taking place according to Mayer.

“We’ve had to get creative,” she stated. “We’re doing in-room manicures and delivery of ice cream floats and other treats.”

One thing the staff at the senior facility would like to see is encouragement from the community.

“We would love for our patients and residents to receive cards and notes,” Mayer said. “This is such a difficult time for everyone.”

Cards can be sent to Ravenswood Village, 200 S. Ritchie Avenue, Ravenswood, WV 26164.

Eldercare Health and Rehabilitation, located on Miller Drive in Ripley, currently serves 100 residents.

Todd Kimble, Eldercare administrator, says that stringent health protocols were put into place very quickly.

“We were pro-active,” he said. “Our top priority is to keep our patients and residents safe. They deserve the highest level of care at all times, but now more than ever.”

All protocols and guidelines issued by the CDC and CMS have been followed. Access to the building is limited to essential personnel only. Screenings, such as taking temperatures, is done twice a day. Staff is monitored as well. In addition, constant contact with the Jackson County Health Department has been maintained. Staff is provided personal protective equipment as well, including masks and gloves.

In the midst of this pandemic, Kimble says the goal is to make life as normal for the residents as possible.

“This is their home,” he said. “We want them to feel comfortable, safe, and loved.”

As with many nursing homes, the staff has had to get creative in bringing that feeling to the residents.

“We are doing door-way bingo,” Kimble said. “We’re following strict social distance but they do love their bingo.”

While there used to be communal movie time, now a Smart TV is taken to each hall so everyone can still enjoy some entertainment.

Communication and interaction with family is very important.

“We try to provide Facetime but sometimes that’s a little hard technologically for some families,” Kimble said. “We’ve used a whiteboard on our Facebook page. Social media is something we’ve utilized a lot. And of course, there has been some window access as well.”

When residents and staff receive cards, it picks up spirits as well says Kimble.

“We appreciate those so much,” he said. “But we also quarantine those for two days and sanitize.”

Kimble stresses the importance of ‘normalcy’ as much as possible.

“This is a scary time for all of us,” he said. “We are determined to keep spirits up and take care of our people.”

Mail cards to Eldercare at 107 Miller Drive, Ripley, WV 25271

Ravenswood Care Center was unavailable for comment as of press time.