Ch.135 A Covid Outbreak at The Refuge Includes Pat and Then Ron

Ch.135 A Covid Outbreak at The Refuge Includes Pat and Then Ron

         April 2022.


          I noticed that Jeff, a kind and gentle former teacher, wasn’t feeling well during dinner. The staff took him to his room. Thirty minutes later Sheila, the medication caregiver, whispered in my ear that one of the residents had just tested positive for Covid. She couldn’t tell me whom it was because of HPAA regulations, though. Soon all the residents and staff were tested. Me too. Ten of the twenty residents and one staff person tested positive. One of those ten was Pat. My test came out negative. Suddenly, without warning, we were in the midst of a runaway outbreak. I went home shaken and scared.

          Diane, The Refuge’s nurse, called me an hour later. I thought she would counsel me not to come to see Pat; instead, she reasoned that since I come to see Pat every day, I already might have been exposed to Covid. It was likely that my immunization shots were doing their job and I wouldn’t catch it. I was relieved because I don’t want Pat to go through this siege alone. But truthfully, I was also scared about being around all these sick individuals, as much as I care about them.

          I contacted Jenny, Cindy, and Joshua. They all agreed to be my backup; they would stay away from The Refuge until it is safe. That way, if I did contract Covid, they would be able to help take care of both of us.

          I was told that I’d need to wear a mask, goggles, and a gown when I came to see Pat, but that Pat would need to wear a mask only when she was out of her room.

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          I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up tired and feeling sickly. I thought I might have Covid so when I arrived at The Refuge, I immediately asked for a test. Ten minutes later a bright pink band appeared exactly where I didn’t want it to be: Yes, I had Covid. The staff shooed me out of Pat’s room and told me I couldn’t come back for ten days. Before I left, I did get a chance to say goodbye to Pat but she looked too sleepy to comprehend. I went home and contacted my primary provider at Mayo Clinic. I took a two-hour nap and then went right back to bed for another nap. Now I understand why Pat has been so sleepy the last few days. My “mild” to “moderate” symptoms are plenty enough to knock me out of the game.

          Meanwhile, my “backup” team sprang into action. Jenny dropped off a special meal tonight for Pat and the night staff at The Refuge; Joshua offered to get me anything I need, and his wife Patty brought me a cannister of homemade chicken soup; Cindy called The Refuge to discuss Pat’s pain medications. They won’t go in the building, though. Now there are fifteen residents with positive Covid diagnoses and at least three staff sidelined by the virus.

          It is ironic that The Refuge had no residents test positive the entire first year of the Covid outbreak, when we as a nation were so ill-prepared for it, but now they are facing a huge outbreak. I am grateful that all the residents have had two or three vaccination shots and so most of the residents, including Pat, are suffering only modest symptoms. This is true despite the reality that few of the residents can comply with masking and isolating guidelines. At one point the staff tried to convince the residents who did not have Covid to stay in their rooms to stay safe. That didn’t work, either. Basically, the whole place is infected, staff and residents; They will all have to get through it together.

          Pat’s comments on: A Covid Outbreak at The Refuge Includes Pat and Then Ron

          Ron to Pat: “Did you miss me?”

         Pat: “Yes, of course.”

        Ron: “The staff connected us every day on FaceTime. Do you remember that?”

        Pat: “No.”