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Help nursing home staff protect their residents

To the editor:

In times of distress, we naturally turn to our family and loved ones for comfort. As the Nursing Home Administrator at Oak Hills Living Center in New Ulm, I have witnessed how COVID-19 has sadly upended all sorts of family gatherings this year.

My co-workers and I are doing everything we can to provide care, companionship and minimize isolation for seniors and those with long-term care needs. But, when it comes to protecting our residents from COVID-19, we all need to do our part.

We are facing a significant workforce shortage worsened by high levels of the virus surging in the community. We have creatively adapted to the challenges of providing good care while minimizing the spread of this highly contagious, deadly virus. Covered in personal protective equipment, we are providing dignified care and keeping spirits up for our seniors. But, when co-workers are absent from work because they are sick themselves or need to care for a sick family member, we are stretched too thin.

This holiday season, I kindly ask that you help protect older adults and staff who are most at risk of contracting the virus. COVID-19 has made celebrating the holidays hard, but definitely not impossible.

The Minnesota Department of Health has provided new holiday guidelines. Much of it has been recommended for months: wear masks, practice good hygiene, social distance.

This holiday season, please consider how your holiday plans impact your neighbors who are most at risk. Try to stay home as much as possible and avoid gathering with people outside your household.

Most importantly, visit with your loved ones in long-term care frequently, but virtually. Share family traditions and fun memories over Zoom or FaceTime. Send handwritten letters and photos to relatives in long-term care facilities instead of making in-person visits. Small steps like these can keep our seniors safe from the virus while maintaining important connections and reducing social isolation.

The next few weeks will be challenging. But by working together, we can protect seniors and keep thousands of health care workers like me working and caring for our seniors.

Happy Holidays!

Candas Schouvieller

Administrator at

Oak Hills Living Center

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