New Long Term Care Chat Room

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New Long Term Care Chat Room at Humboldt County Memorial Hospital to provide comfortable visitation.

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LTC Chat Room with Mim Zeman, LTC Resident and her oldest son, Richard Zeman (photo consent was obtained)

Richard Zeman expressed that meeting outside with his mother was not always ideal because of the Iowa weather, it may be ok for most of us, but for her it was always chilly. This new indoor visiting space is “money well spent”. Mim Zeman also commented that a lot of work went into making this space feel welcoming and she was very happy to be able to see her son. 

What sparked this visitation idea and why is it built the way it is? Although we know that this is not the most ideal way to visit your loved one, however due to COVID-19 we have had to make some major adjustments to the way families and friends can visit. This new indoor visiting room meets all requirements set forth by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA). It was built the way it is by limiting the exposure of COVID-19 to our most venerable. 

This room is located before the main doors of the Long Term Care Unit. The room is divided by a wall with a glass window.  Visitors and residents can speak to each other over a speaker phone.  

When utilizing the indoor chat room, guests do not enter LTC.  If our visitors need help while in the chat room they can call LTC at 332-7685 or go back to the front desk. If you are coming to visit after hours and the entrance doors to the hospital are locked you will need to enter through the ER.  The staff in ER will screen you prior to coming back to LTC.  If they are unable to screen you, then the LTC staff will complete the screening.  

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What are Long Term Cares current Visitation Restrictions? Starting Monday 10/26/20, the following visitors will have access to our indoor chat room: Family Members – Immediate and Extended Friends of Resident, Children under age 18 as long as accompanied by adult and clergy members 

How do you make an appointment to visit a resident? Visitors must call ahead and schedule an appointment with Heather MacLeod, Stacy Willard, Kassie Wyatt or Nancy Huddleson, Activities Director. Scheduling hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Weekend visits need to be scheduled prior to the weekend. To schedule your visit please call HCMH at 515-332-4200 or LTC directly at 515-332-7685. 

What to expect before during and after your visit? All visitors will be screened for COVID-19 and their temperature will be taken at the HCMH Registration Desk prior to visiting.  All visitors must use hand sanitizer and wear a face covering during the entire visit. The face covering must cover your nose and mouth. If you are feeling ill, have a fever or respiratory symptoms such as coughing or difficulty breathing, if someone in your household feels ill or if you have been exposed to COVID-19 please notify us immediately and do not come to the scheduled visit.

With the holiday’s right around the corner can residents receive gifts? Yes, gifts are much appreciated.

How can I get my gift delivered?  We continue to prohibit all food items that are not made within a licensed kitchen or prepackaged from a store.  We do encourage you to send your loved ones cards, letters and gifts as long as it complies with our new restrictions.  Please bring your gift(s) or item(s) in marked package to HCMH’s front registration desk. You may also bring the gift to your scheduled visit. A LTC staff member can then deliver it to the resident during your visit. 

What are the current activities the residents are able to do? Small group activities that meet in the Sun Room include BINGO, music and happy hour. Other events are offered 1:1 in each residents room and utilize the mobile i-pad for You Tube (church services, educational, and music activities), video chats, and games. The residents enjoy letters from their pen pals in the St. Mary’s 6th grade class.

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Sarah Schluter, ARNP Palliative Medicine, Family Medicine 

“I think this new room is very important addition to Long Term Care. This pandemic is taking a major toll on the residents physical and mental health. These residents have given up so much including; activities, meal times with friends and most importantly hugs from friends and family. Not to be able to see their loved ones have made it so much worse.”

“To be able to have a space to allow them to see each other is amazing.”

“It has not only been hard on the residents, it has been hard on the staff. The staff are now more than just their caretakers, they have now essentially taken the place of family. The staff are doing a wonderful job of being accommodating to take the time to schedule these visits and all of the effort that goes into the visit to make it feel like home.”

What do you love about your job? “It is fun getting to know the residents and being able to create a relationship with the residents. Seeing them day after day is rewarding.”

“Working alongside the HCMH LTC staff has been a pleasure these past 3 years. To watch them come together as a team and undergo all of the policy changes, they always put the resident needs first. They make them their priority. This is a wonderful environment to work in.“

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Heather MacLeod, RN, Director of Nursing

“We have completed our first 2 weeks with our new indoor chat room. The feedback from the residents and families have been great! Please know that the health and safety of our residents is our number one priority and I appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this difficult time.”