While the nation, including South Dakota, begins the processing of slowing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2, better known as the COVID-19 or Coronavirus, some of the nation’s most vulnerable are taking extra precautionary measures.
Retirement communities and senior citizen homes homes around South Dakota have enacted some new policies, in some cases cancelling visits in some areas, and in other cases applying limitations.
“In response to the recent global outbreak of coronavirus, including concerns regarding a heightened risk of contraction and/or severity of the virus in seniors, on March 4, 2020, Edgewood Healthcare established several initial precautionary measures to best ensure the health and safety of our nearly 4,000 senior residents and our employees,” Edgewood Healthcare’s website said. “Additionally, in an on-going effort to proactively protect those same individuals, Edgewood Healthcare has now reached a point of implementing further enhanced measures, as recommended by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).”
Here in Pierre, some people are taking steps to mitigate the steps.
As releases for tightening provisions around schools and nursing homes continued to be released, one local businessman decided he would try to make a difference.
Lonnie Heier, originally from Lemon, SD, has owned DQ’s for 13 years, he said.
“Just reading a lot about the virus and knowing that it affects old people in a much harsher fashion, than younger people, and knowing that our nursing homes were being shut out to visitors, I wanted to try to find a way to bridge the gap from the outside world,” Heier said.
He said he thought of it Friday morning. At 2:29 p.m. he made the post on Dairy Queen Pierre’s Facebook page, letting the Pierre and the internet know his intentions.
“It was a very quick decision,” Heier said. “I thought of the idea Friday morning and by Friday afternoon we had put the plan in place. Since then a ton of people have seen our post.”
He cites metrics with over 35,000 views of the post. There are over 500 likes, 63 comments and 328 shares visible on the post.
“The coronavirus has spread across the world and has hit the senior population particularly hard,” Heier wrote on Facebook. “Because of this, assisted living centers and nursing homes have had to place strict limits on visitors. Many of our seniors living in these facilities don’t have a way to communicate with their loved ones and face long days of isolation.”
Along with people with compromised immunity issues, the geriatric community is not only more susceptible, but more adversely affected by colds and flu, especially with respiratory conditions, applied by the virus.
“Dairy Queen will provide the first $1,000 donation, along with $.50 of every Blizzard sold through this coming Wednesday, to the goal of purchasing at least 20 iPads to split between local senior facilities in our area,” Heier wrote.
After doing some research and talking to people who were very helpful, he said this would be a great way for the residents of the homes to be able to reach their families and loved ones.
Working with Edgewood, Heier counted nine different assisted living and nursing home communities in the area. They have contacted all of them and they are excited at the prospect, he said.
The goal is to purchase two or three basic iPads for each of the gerontological communities.
His Dairy Queen has put up $1,000 dollars to start, and he figures they need around $7,000 to completely accomplish the task of three iPads per community, he said.
So far, they have received donations from private citizens and local companies totaling $1,500.
Local places like Maher Dental have pledged $500, Brakke Financial Services, Bothun Insurance and Slumberland have all pledged $250, and Rising Hope Counseling and Branding Iron Bistro have both pledged to contribute. As well, they have received anonymous donations ranging from $10 to $100 from private citizens.
They have not contacted Apple to make them aware of the task. “We are just playing it by ear,” Heier said. “There wasn’t a ton of thought of things like contacting Apple, or anything like that, but yes, we are looking at the iPad with the basic function with Facetime and stuff like that.”
Because the severity in a younger person may be moderate to the point where the use of the word severity is irresponsible, the fact remains, light or no symptoms in a young person could easily pass on to and make the life difficult of an older person. Resulting in severity.
They do know the virus causes conditions from moderate to death, and while not a lot of information has been released on the specific numbers of younger people affected, in SD’s nine cases, there have been no cases in people under 29 years.
No reported, positive or confirmed cases have happened in Hughes or Stanley County, but if they did, the already tightening guest list would become an event shorter.
For Edgewood, areas in the state where there have been confirmed positive COVID-19 patients, their doors are closed to all visitors. The six homes it has closed in South Dakota are in Mitchell, Sioux Falls and Rapid City.
The home in Pierre has asked all visitors to make sure to only use the main entrance and to both log in and out.
Kelly’s Retirement Homes and Compassion Health Services have released a virus update statement with the restrictions of one immediate family member and one visit per day, including a checklist and being cleared by the onsite nurse for entry, the release said.
Both places specifically stated to not visit if you are experiencing a fever over 100 degrees, a cough or respiratory difficulty, have traveled outside the country in the last 14 days or had contact with anyone who has.
Both companies have said they will continue to evaluate and update the situation. Edgewood has specifically stated if two or more cases are confirmed in any area where they have a location, they will move towards more restrictions.