How a Norfolk nursing home is keeping its vulnerable residents safe during the coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 8:29 PM, Mar 24, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - It's a tough pill to swallow - nursing homes are no longer allowing visitors inside to see their loved ones.

But the CDC says it’s for the best as the patients housed inside are the most at risk for COVID-19.

Bright red stop signs now hang in the windows at Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital.

“We were screening people before and limiting visitation, but it got to the point to stop non-essential visitation.”

That means only health care workers and employees can now enter the 296-bed, post-acute care facility and nursing home due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

“We have done isolation procedures on an individual basis, but not on such a grand scale.”

CEO Tom Orsini says the drastic measures are all an effort to keep the most at risk and vulnerable virus-free. He says the hospital has patients of all ages – from 6 months to 106 old – under one roof.

Staff is also handing out hand sanitizer to patients, and they’re using hospital-grade disinfectants as precautions.

Related: 'Our elderly population is quite fragile': Leaders raise concerns about COVID-19 and seniors

“We have the gowns, the gloves, the masks - goggles all in place to take care of these patients,” Orsini told us.

Communal dining has ceased, and activities are delivered to rooms to limit contact.

“I know it’s a lot of inconvenience. There are family members, and it’s hard; you have some of these spouses that have never been away from each other,” he said.

And to mitigate some of the loneliness between patients and their families, Lake Taylor has assigned social workers to each patient to help with things like FaceTime, phone calls and even sending virtual greeting cards.

The round-the-clock care for these at-risk patients wouldn’t be possible for without dedicated, compassionate staff on the front lines.

“They are - believe it or not - asking for extra shifts to work to help us out,” Orsini said. “[They are] amazing health care workers.”

Click here for full coronavirus coverage.