Kendal’s watchwords are: calm, proactive preparation. At our regular health forum for the entire community yesterday afternoon, Covid 19 was the only topic of discussion. The doctor who is our medical director, the head of our nursing staff, the staff infectious disease specialist, and the chief health services officer were all on hand to inform us of the changes we have established for this month though things may change daily if necessary. As they did overnight. That turned out to be our last large community gathering for a while.
The Care Center area where I live is the most affected as we house the most elderly and health compromised residents at Kendal. The breakfast venue directly across the hall from me has closed, as will the nearest dining area. Meals will be brought to our rooms. Eating together is one of the most likely ways to spread the virus- a warm open mouth is an irresistible invitation for infection. Singing together is likewise not a good idea. The rest of the Kendal community can no longer come through our halls on their way to elsewhere in the sprawling facility. Entrances to the outdoors from our end of the world are locked and the inside hallways leading to the larger facility have been closed with unlocked doors. Many nearby cottage dwellers now have a much longer way to go around to get to the main entrance of the building.
Vendors and service people will be checked at all entrances for a fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath before they receive the all clear sticker to deliver their goods and services. Staff and families coming from the outside must do the same. Our Oberlin Quaker meeting is held in another building on our campus and no one from town can now attend, nor can folks from town use the pool or use Kendal to meet for other ongoing projects. The children’s Early Learning Center down the hall is closed after tomorrow, as are all Ohio schools for early spring break or longer. In Ohio, gatherings of more than 100 people are banned, so there will be no more all community events in our own auditorium until further notice.
lf the number of cases escalate locally, which I fear is likely, we are doing our best with more intense personal handwashing hygiene entering and leaving any room-I haven’t forgotten to wipe down my cell phone and rollater handlebars. Perhaps our efforts will at least make it easier for local medical establishments to deal with a potential influx of ill people if we can slow down the spread of Covid19 on our end.
Today in the Care Center, it is very quiet. Because I have friends from the larger community who often dropped in to see me, I will now have to stay in touch via cyberspace and phone. This situation is nudging me to do more reaching out than I am used to, and since I am a little stronger, I can do this. For some of my Care Center neighbors in their 90’s and the woman down the hall who is 102, the change of routine is anxiety producing and very disorienting. They don’t have computers to Skype with and a couple of them are largely blind. Visitations and resident volunteer support will drop off and we worry about isolation for those who depended on them for contact. I will reach out to my elder neighbors more often than I have done in the past as I can no longer attend my usual meetings or lead my meditation groups.
The entire staff is on high alert and well educated as to their new duties which will undoubtedly increase as time goes on. I am slowly dealing with these adjustments. We will wait and see. The whole world is adjusting, and waiting, not just my tiny corner of Kendal in Ohio with our calm, proactive preparation. Making more of an effort to safely reach out to others is now incumbent upon all of us wherever we live.