Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)

‘We’re working hard to contain the outbreak’: Kelowna care home

To date, 20 residents and three staff members have contracted COVID-19 at Cottonwoods Care Centre

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic and with a current outbreak in their hands, Cottonwoods Care Centre’s staff knew they’d have to fight to keep the cases contained.

But it’s not just about containing the outbreak; staff at the residence are also tasked with answering questions, both from residents and their families, as well as keeping spirits high as the facility’s doors remain shut.

Emma Guerrero Mohajir is the patient care coordinator in Cottonwoods’ short-term stay facility, where the outbreak reportedly started. She has been focusing on keeping the team calm and positive.

“To be honest, (staff members) were scared at first. Even though Cottonwoods has been preparing for an outbreak for over a year, every week we were doing safety huddles, Q and As, COVID drills,” she said.

“Even with that preparation, they were still scared. But I think with us leading the team in a positive direction, being calm and being patient-centred, that helped them feel settled.”

“We’ve really been leaning into the technology we’ve been using the past year.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said the vaccine has prevented severe illness due to COVID-19. Even though that’s been the case, she has also stated the vaccine is still not a, “blanket antidote.”

“You can have transmission even when people are fully vaccinated,” said Henry on March 8.

“The illness seems to be milder and doesn’t transmit as much; we won’t see rapid explosive outbreaks.”

Jessica Barker, clinical operations manager at the residence, said management has tried its best to keep families looped in as the outbreak developed.

“We’ve had lots of questions from families and patients, they’re scared as well and we’ve really tried our best to keep them in the loop virtually (and) remotely,” she said.

Barker said staff have also gotten creative with how they interact with and put positivity back into residents’ lives. She said staff have been helping residents use technology to see their families online, and finding their favourite items and foods.

KGH Foundation CEO Doug Rankmore said the pots and pans have stopped at shift change, and with the vaccine rollout, people have started to get complacent. However he asked the community, for the sake of Cottonwoods’ staff, residents and patients, that people continue to show their support however they can.

Guerrero Mohajir echoed his sentiments, adding the best support the community can offer is by respecting public health orders.

“The community is tired. We’re tired too, but it’s our duty to rise up for these patients and for these families,” she said.

“We’re working so hard to contain the outbreak and still be positive for our patients. We’ve been their friends and family during this time and we just want to encourage the community to wear your mask when you’re supposed to in public, keep your bubbles small, follow the directions of medical health officers because it’s very much still a reality, and we’re living that reality right now.”

READ: New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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