Protecting physical, mental & spiritual health during the COVID-19 Pandemic
BY MICHAEL HAMMOND, COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER
In January of 2020 an Infection, Prevention and Control Team (IPCT) was established to plan for the case of outbreaks, especially of the seasonal flu, at Providence Motherhouse. The role of the IPCT is to identify and reduce the risks of infections and restrict the exposure to the Sisters and staff. As the team was formed just prior to the global pandemic declaration, planned responses were changed to include stricter precautions as per Public Health’s recommendations.
Sisters, staff, contractors and visitors (when allowed) enter at designated entrances where they are greeted by dedicated screening personnel. Properly worn disposable masks are mandatory in all areas. Motherhouse nursing staff perform COVID-19 testing regularly on Sisters and staff to rapidly detect infections. Hand sanitizing stations have been installed by the maintenance personnel at many high traffic locations in the Motherhouse.
On the nursing floors, isolation wards were created should an outbreak occur or in case a Sister has come in close contact with someone who has tested positive. The housekeeping staff have prepared for a COVID-19 outbreak with an isolation plan restricting assigned staff to an isolation area with full PPE and having supplies ready for cleaning and disinfecting. Housekeeping staff are key to keeping this virus at bay and eradicating it if it gets into the facility.
The mental health of the Sisters living at Providence Motherhouse is very important and many safe projects and games have been developed or adapted over the last year to keep the Sisters active and challenged. During the warmer months, indoor and outdoor games such as lawn darts and washer toss were played. BINGO and WINGO games are weekly favourites. Creative art classes are led by Sister Diane Brennen, and Sister Rita Gleason guides the newest activity, line dancing. All items are isolated or sanitized between uses to ensure they are safe for the next time.
Meals are prepared by dedicated dietary staff, and are served to the Sisters at tables setup with physical distancing in mind. Meal options are chosen by Sisters ahead of time to simplify meal service and allow for extra COVID-19 safety protocols.
Spiritual health is also important and the Sisters have made use of technology to help nourish their spiritual lives. Masses have been performed within the limits of Public Health guidelines. A closed circuit camera in the Chapel has enabled Sisters to view the celebrations on their televisions in-house, on their computers or smart devices online.
With vaccines being rolled out there is hope to return to some normalcy in life, but until then we are prepared to keep everyone safe and healthy.