Nora Christensen will do whatever it takes, even don protective equipment, to visit her dad at Good Samaritan Society in Alma, Nebraska.
Her father, Jim Seyler, has lived at the skilled nursing location for 18 months.
“He fell and broke his hip. Had to have a hip replacement. He has Parkinson’s and so they were alone out on the farm. We really couldn’t do that anymore,” says Christensen, a local school teacher.
Finding a new home for Dad
Finding a place for her dad to get timely medications and exercise was important.
“I cried a lot. I’ve always been very close to my dad. He’s always been my go-to,” Christensen says.
Going to live at the Society has been a blessing.
“We saw instant improvement. They’re fantastic,” Christensen says.
The power of touch
Seyler is getting stronger and, for the first time in months, he can show off that strength during a special touch visit with his daughter.
“He held my hands so tight that my hands actually hurt, but I wasn’t about to tell him to let go,” Christensen says.
Being apart physically during the pandemic has been rough.
“I’m a very emotional person. I’m strong until I’m not strong. That kind of broke my strength,” Christensen says.
Christensen’s brother, Brian Seyler, works at the location and tears up watching his family reunite.
“It was a really cool experience to see,” Brian Seyler, director of ancillary services, says. “We take a lot of things for granted that we didn’t realize until a year ago.”
A simple hug becomes a powerful embrace.
“A lot of weight lifted off of my shoulders just to be that close and have my dad back,” Christensen says.
An old routine through a new lens can still mean the world.
After sounding out a kiss following a long hug, Christensen says, “I think Dad thought it was cool because I always did that. I’m looking forward to leaving some lipstick on his forehead.”
Keeping residents safe
Remarkably, not a single resident at the Alma location has tested positive for COVID-19. Administrator Dan Stauffer attributes this to two things.
“First, it’s God. It’s by God’s grace and mercy,” Stauffer says.
It’s also thanks to the exhausting efforts of the health care heroes who work in the building.
“They are very diligent at doing all the things that are necessary. Following all those guidelines, all the protocols and processes of hand washing and hygiene, PPE,” Stauffer says.
He says his staff members are nothing short of impressive.
“They want to show up to work. They love showing up to work and they want to protect the residents that they’re caring for. Our staff has done a really good job,” Stauffer says.
Stauffer says it can be challenging to keep residents safe and provide a high quality of life. Touch visits allow both to happen. Visits like this are now allowed under new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“These touch visits have been a place where we’ve finally been able to bring both together the best we could. Protecting them, doing these things safely but giving them the highest quality of life. For a few moments, they can have that reconnection and that touch and that embrace of a loved one,” Stauffer says.
All 36 residents at the Alma location have had both doses of the vaccine. Stauffer prays it will usher in an end to the pandemic.
“We weren’t created to be isolated from one another, be disconnected and not be touching each other. We just weren’t made that way,” Stauffer says.
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