Joel VanEaton

I am trying to find ways to rest my mind from constantly thinking about COVID-19. There seems to be no escaping it. It invades every minute poking its head into our collective consciousness whether you are a frontline healthcare worker or are part of the support systems behind the scenes, there seems to be no evading this new reality.

For the foreseeable future, this will be something with which we will all have to contend. The hard part is finding ways to contend with hope.

Our daily lives are faced with what is steadily becoming a new normal that is fraught with certain difficulties or at least inconvenience. Many are faced with the difficult daily task of caring for those terminally affected by this pandemic. It is not an easy time. It is a stressful time.

From the MDS perspective, the new daily grind is often further interrupted with the added duties of having to take the cart or assist with other non-MDS related tasks that are an essential but often difficult diversion. With the complicating layer of the waivers and delays in MDS timing, Survey freezes, QRP and PBJ submission delays, there is much beyond continuing to assimilate to PDPM that the MDS nurse is having to work through. Keeping up with normal duties along with added expectations is challenging

One ray of light is that the MDS will not change much this fall. Unless your state will require you to submit data that allows them to compare RUGs vs. PDPM, your MDS workflow will remain essentially unscathed. The massive update that was scheduled for this fall that included the removal of section G and the addition of a large number of SPADEs, has been delayed at least two years. Much work has been done to enhance the PDPM clinical category mapping and with the positive Market Basket update and 2% sequestration pause, there is some good news.

Still we are faced with the new trying realities of regular COVID testing of staff and residents. Working through the 3 phases of reopening our nursing homes seems daunting if not impossible. Trying to get a handle on the pandemic, at least in some nursing home sectors feels like trying to hold onto a handful of oil. Will it ever end? Most believe it will. And in the meantime, finding ways to disengage and unwind, believing there will be a positive hope filled future, are essential.

I recently became a beekeeper. It was something I’ve always wanted to do and three years ago I decided to take the plunge. I had some excellent mentorship from a friend who is a certified master beekeeper. That has been significant in my continuing this journey. This will be my third summer, and now I cannot imagine not doing this. I have also started a co-op to help increase the bee population in my local area. Our goal is to help folks who want to get started just like, Calvin helped me.

I often find myself just standing or sitting near my beehives. I love to feel and hear the bee clouds as they go about their work. It is busy and peaceful all at once, and knowing I played a part in bring these incredible creatures to my back yard, my town, my friends, is an amazing sensation. These moments help me unwind and grow in my appreciation of the world around me. It’s a way of release from the daily barrage of work-related duties and the current presence of COVID-19. The bees do not seem to mind. Later this summer, the sweet reward will bless my community.

I encourage you to do something like this for yourself. It may not be beekeeping, although that would bee a good idea in my book. There is something that you can do to pull away and breathe. Please do it, regularly. We all need us during these difficult times. Do what give you rest form COVID-19. You and your community will be blessed if you do.

Joel VanEaton, BSN, RN, RAC-CT, master teacher, is the vice president of compliance and regulatory affairs at Broad River Rehab.