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Centers continue to care for residents

Standing outside her window as a precaution against COVID-19, Rev. Talmadge Brown visits his wife, Velma, at Governor’s Bend. (Contributed photo)

By Richard Rourk

The region’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities are having to be creative keeping residents safe and happy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Governor’s Bend Retirement and Assisted Living Facility, residents are getting creative with visitation.

Rev. Talmadge Brown, an 83-year-old retired Free Will Baptist minister, visits his beloved wife, Velma every day. Brown and his wife have been married for 66 years.

Velma is a resident in the memory care community at Governors Bend and due to COVID-19, Brown has had to get creative with his visits.

“With the current situation in our country, visitation for the time being has been suspended, but that hasn’t stopped Brown from letting his bride know he is still close by,” Governor’s Bend Retirement and Assisted Living Executive Director Colleen Cox said. “Brother Talmadge now comes to visit Velma at her window, every single day.”

Cox explained that Brown would not let this virus come between him and his wife.

“When told that his love and dedication was an inspiration to many, Preacher Brown’s eyes filled with tears as he pointed to his wife and said ‘That woman is the best thing that has ever happened to me, other than the Lord,’” Cox said. “We all need a reminder right now that love is far more powerful than a virus.”

Governor’s Bend is also looking for more socially distant activities for its residents. Donations of jigsaw puzzles (300-500 pieces,) large print word searches and prizes for bingo are being asked for by the residents.

If you do choose to bring anything by, please call Governor’s Bend when you get there and they will come out and meet you at the door to bring in your items. You can follow Governor’s Bend on Facebook for updates.

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At Christian Care Center of Unicoi County precautions have been made to safeguard the residents.

“Our residents’ safety has been our number one priority,” Christian Care Center of Unicoi County Executive Tyler Colbaugh told The Erwin Record. “We are allowing visitation by emergency only, if it’s a critical situation, they must be cleared by myself and our Director of Nursing before entry.”

Colbaugh confirmed that all other visitors are restricted due to COVID-19 for the safety of the residents.

“We are scheduling Google Duo meetings so that our residents can interact with their loved ones during this time,” Colbaugh said.

According to Colbaugh, the residents have adjusted well.

“Our residents have been very cooperative. We’ve had to offer meals in their rooms, which fortunately we are able to offer private rooms and we have had to alter group activities as well,” Colbaugh said. “Our staff is currently working on ways to keep our residents entertained during this time.”

On March 23, Shari’s Florist of Erwin and The Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce brought flowers and cards to be delivered to the residents.

You can follow Christian Care Center of Unicoi County on Facebook for updates.

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At the Center On Aging and Health, the staff has gotten creative with ways to brighten the residents’ days.

“Being in the healthcare industry has been especially daunting recently, so in order to do our very best to keep the virus away from our precious residents, we have taken many measures and have followed the CDC as well as the CMS guidelines,” Center On Aging and Health Human Resources Manager Sharon Greatti said. “Today we contacted Red Lobster. They are also doing their best to help. Being located in Erwin, it’s not always easy to get food delivery for our staff, but we really wanted to keep them in the building as much as possible.”

Greatti took advantage of Red Lobster’s changing business model.

“Red Lobster has just rolled out their new home delivery service, so, I called them and asked if they would entertain the idea of delivering to us out here in the Valley Beautiful,” Greatti said. “I explained that we are a nursing home in Erwin and that with the lockdowns we really wanted to do something nice for our staff.”

According to Greatti, the distance was no problem.

“To my surprise, they were overwhelmingly helpful, to the point that they brought in another manager to deliver our food order to us.”

Greatti acknowledged that everyone is doing their part during the pandemic.

“This is community caring at its best, and we at the Center on Aging and Health wanted to thank Red Lobster for going above and beyond,” she said.

Red Lobster wasn’t the only restaurant that has donated food to the Center On Aging and Health.

Bella Vita also served the Center On Aging and Health last week.

“They made enough pizzas for our entire facility and then delivered them to us in Erwin,” Greatti said. “What a wonderful and tasty treat it was for our employees. Can I just say that we feel very blessed to be a part of the Tri-Cities and Unicoi County communities? It’s folks like these that put a smile on our faces during a very difficult time.”

According to Greatti, everyone coming together will get the community through this difficult situation.

“If we can all just work together, we can get through this virus,” Greatti said.

Please follow the Center On Aging and Health on Facebook for updates.