Recent news stories about COVID-19 cases and deaths in local nursing home facilities (“COVID-19 hits hard at Minnesota’s long-term care facilities,” April 22) make me and my co-workers so very angry and so very sad.

The general public believes nursing home facilities are not providing the proper care or that “these places” are where the virus spreads or in general where bad things happen.

The reality is that all of us senior care workers, regardless of our positions, are going to work every day because we are essential, because our residents are counting on us and because we know the importance of our jobs. We take excellent care of the world’s most vulnerable population. We are the caregiver, the family member, the beautician, the podiatrist, the mail man and so much more.

We are faced daily with sad and frustrated family members who cannot visit their loved ones. They cannot see their spouses with dementia, who they fear will forget them. They cannot see their mothers who are in hospice care and fear they may die without loved ones by their side. They have to say goodbye to spouses of 70 years who are entering transitional care and who don’t understand why their husband or wife cannot stay; they call their names as they are escorted out.

We try to be creative in providing entertaining, stimulating and meaningful activities and ways for family and residents to stay connected under mandated restrictions. We all go into work daily, all in, giving 150%. And yet the news splashed in all of these tainted stories is merely of people dying in a nursing home.

News flash: We work with death every single day. If our folks get this virus, yes, many will die, because they are already so compromised — not because of neglectful care. In fact I would suspect those who died in the homes most recently in the news were surrounded by loving staff at their bed sides, making sure they were comfortable and would never die alone.

Why do I think this? Because death does happen in nursing homes. The difference now is that families are not able to be there, hospice and other support staff are not able to be there. But we are.

So when every other essential worker is being recognized and we are left out — to one another we are amazing, we are angels. Our residents and their grateful families tell us so. That’s what matters.

So for all the unsung heroes working in senior care: Job amazingly well done!

 

Linda Sauve, of Eagan, is a licensed social worker.