Christy Jordan

Like most of us in long-term care, Creekwood Place Nursing & Rehab was not expecting COVID-19. But we, like our counterparts throughout the country, are managing it.

Creekwood Place Nursing & Rehab is located in Russellville, KY, a rural town of just over 7,000 people in southwest Kentucky. Creekwood Place is a 104-bed skilled nursing facility with a 20-bed short-term rehab to home unit. So far, the facility has seen 54 total COVID-19 positive cases from residents and 24 positive staff members.

Creekwood staff stepped up to the plate and picked up extra shifts in order to care for the residents. An emergency staffing plan was activated, which allowed the facility to isolate one unit to dedicate for positive residents. Since the facility was hit so suddenly, asymptomatic staff members who tested positive for the virus worked on the COVID-19 unit. Some department managers worked 21 days straight to ensure residents were well take care of. Any minute, the facility may have another case. We are doing the best we can to create an environment that is clean, safe and like home.

Below is a letter I wrote to my leadership and others in the long-term care profession. It’s a letter to express my gratitude for everything we are doing during these hard times. At the end of the day, our residents need us now more than ever. Even with the fear of taking it to our own families, long-term care heroes show up to love and care for those who can no longer do it themselves. We are not only the caregivers, but we are family.

First, I feel I am a strong person. I take things in stride; I am ready for mistakes to happen and usually have a pretty good idea on how to fix them. I do not cry easily … then COVID-19 hit! 

For two weeks I did not know if I was coming or going. I did not feel strong; I felt defeated. I tried to stay positive for my team and told them daily that we can do this. I no longer felt like I had the answers and questioned every decision I made.

Despite how I was feeling, I had an emergency plan. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was a matter of when, not if, it will hit. I had staff ready and prepared, including a list of who would and would not work with positive patients. Then COVID -19 hit and hard with 26 cases.  Therefore, my idea of a dividing wall went out the window and my staffing plan was moot because the wrong ones had already been exposed.

As days passed, those we loved died. Others were transferred to the hospital and we wondered if the hospital staff cared about them. Will they die alone? Will they come back? We prayed and then we prayed some more. All the while, our census was dropping, more staff became sick, and fear was escalating.

All of this chaos led to starting a COVID-19 unit. What a blessing! It may sound crazy. No one wishes a facility to have to deal with this virus. However, during the crazy times we never lost sight of the WHY: The why we do what we do.

Today, I love our unit. I love talking to the families who thank us with heartfelt sincerity.

Our latest admission is a gentleman who went to the hospital COVID-19-positive but was transferred because he was isolated at home with no one to help him. He was ready to die.  We were more than happy to admit him to the facility. Today, a staff member told him, “We are happy to have you with us” and he replied, “No, I am happy to be here. I have hot food, I have people smiling at me and treating me like a person. No one is scared of me and treating me horribly. I was ready to end it all and now here you all are. I am going to get better.”

This deadly virus has ravaged long-term care facilities worldwide. But it has made the frontline workers remember the WHY. These residents deserve our love and our care. They need us and we have never stepped away from those that need us. Whether it is the first case or the 50th case, we do what we do for a reason. This man is the reason.

I would like to thank everyone from Clearview Health Care Management, other long-term care providers, the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, Dr. Spicer and my staff members for the encouragement. Thanks for trusting us to open this special unit and provide much-needed care to these people. It has truly changed our lives and for the better.

Christy Jordan RN, BSN, is administrator of Creekwood Place Nursing & Rehab in Russellville, KY.