There may be a pandemic, but that didn’t stop The Waterton Healthcare and Rehabilitation center at Shiloh from taking a tropical stay-cation.

On Friday, residents and staff were treated to a Hawaiian luau, complete with limbo and piña colada shaved ice.

Through all of this, our staff gets down too,” Kelli Nance, the director of nursing, said. “We see our residents get unhappy, so morale is a big thing. We decided to do an event that’s really for the staff, we included the residents as well, but it’s a promotion of good spirits.”

Along with tables of Hawaiian sliders, cheeseball “beachballs” and fruit, residents and staff alike played games of ring toss, hula-hoop, limbo and “punch the pineapple.” Besides being fun, the games are made with rehab therapy in mind, each working on the residents’ balance and reach.

“It’s being able to come for my residents and put a smile on their face,” Jennifer White, the facility’s activity director, said. “It’s about them. It’s always been about them.”

The facility has had only one positive COVID-19 patient back in April and is the only center in the Southwest LTC Management Services, LLC to be completely coronavirus free.

“We know that we’re doing the right things: the proper hand washing, the masking up … social distancing,” White said. “We gave ourselves a pat on the back because Southwest is a big company.”

The staff converted one wing of the center to a COVID-19 wing, separating the patient from the other residents. Nance and the center’s administrator stayed in the facility for two weeks to care for the patient, sleeping in empty patient rooms and offices.

{p dir=”ltr”}“It was amazing to me because they had families and they chose to stay here however long they needed to,” White said. “They could’ve gotten a nurse to stay, but they did it. We are a family here and we are a team, we all come together when the going gets tough.”

{p dir=”ltr”}They still have a COVID-19 unit and if another positive case arises, Nance said they plan on doing the same strategy of complete isolation from the rest of the residents and nurses.

{p dir=”ltr”}“It was good to know that that that kept it from the rest of the building,” Nance said. “We’re seeing a lot of homes that are having outbreaks. It’s scary to think about.”

{p dir=”ltr”}Since the end of March, COVID-19 has kept many family members from seeing their loved ones at the healthcare facility, and residents from seeing each other.

{p dir=”ltr”}“It’s been so long since I’ve been able to go anywhere and do anything,” long-term patient Joya Enright said. “Whenever they get something special planned, it’s fun to come be a part of it. You can only watch so much TV.”

{p dir=”ltr”}The last time the residents were gathered together was for a Father’s Day parade around the facility. Activities like these, White said, give people a chance to meet others in the facility and get rid of the anxiety of staying indoors for extended periods of time.

{p dir=”ltr”}“I’m seeing people I haven’t even seen before,” Carla Guzman, a short-term resident, said.

{p dir=”ltr”}The Waterton staff also plans on putting together a Halloween parade for their residents later this fall.

Multimedia Journalist

Claire Wallace, an East Texan native, joined the team in July 2020, and is dedicated to bringing a complete look at the issues Tylerites are facing. She's previously worked for National Public Radio and The Tyler Loop.

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