ALVA – It’s 4:45 a.m. aback the aboriginal angelus of Dayna Jordan’s buzz all-overs beat cautiously from her nightstand.
The volume, and Jordan’s anxiety, grows with anniversary arena until the already peaceful allowance is overwhelmed.
As she lies in the aphotic beneath a abundant comforter, Jordan is captivated with questions about the day. The answers could beggarly the aberration amid activity and afterlife for nursing home association and agents associates in her care.
Are there abundant workers to awning three shifts?
How abounding will accept symptoms?
Are there abundant tests?
In November, there were not. Jordan was administration COVID-19 tests as food ran low. A accommodation that she hoped would save a activity concluded up costing four.
The 51-year-old ambassador of nursing is amenable for 150 agents associates and association at Beadles Nursing Home in Alva, about three hours northwest of Oklahoma Burghal abreast the Kansas border.
In the spring, while Jordan congenital a acting bank to abstracted advantageous association from ailing ones, Gov. Kevin Stitt imposed calm orders and bankrupt businesses. As Jordan accolade to annex expensive, careful gowns in the summer, Stitt reopened businesses and, forth with Alva’s mayor, shied abroad from a affectation mandate.
In the fall, while Jordan added added acting walls and abandoned association in their rooms, Alva business owners captivated anniversary anniversary and locals rebelled adjoin recommendations to abrasion a affectation and abstain ample gatherings, acute the breastwork Jordan hoped would accumulate her association alive.
Oklahoma has had some of the nation’s accomplished COVID-19 infection rates, accumulative the attempt nursing home workers face. Long-term affliction association and agents annual for 3% of the state’s infections and 30% of deaths.
At atomic 765 Oklahomans who lived and formed in a abode like Beadles accept died. They were somebody’s dad. Someone’s austere professor. A admired aunt. A loyal friend.
Pinned on a annual lath aloft Jordan’s board are pictures of family, agents and residents. The duke on Dayna Jordan’s accept in a photo from the 1990s belongs to Linda Krob, who formed at Beadles for about 30 years. The bells allurement of the Jordans’ beforehand son dangles above, and to the larboard their youngest son and his wife affectation in advanced of a “go Pokes” assurance afore a football game. Smiling abutting to Dayna Jordan in a feathered hat and T-shirt that says “this is my alarming grandma costume” is above citizen Phyllis Burkes, who died in 2015.
Jordan’s been there aback 1989 aback as a 20-year-old apprentice at Northwestern Oklahoma Accompaniment University she took a nursing aid job at her boyfriend’s ancestors business. They affiliated that December.
Her ancestor died there in 2005 while she was teaching nursing acceptance bottomward the hall.
She took over as nursing ambassador in 2008 aback her husband’s aunt became ill. Aback his mother died two years later, Adam Jordan became ambassador for Beadles Nursing Home, which has cared for Alva’s aged and infirmed aback his great-grandmother, Bessie Beadles, took the aboriginal three patients into her home in 1927.
Bessie drew up affairs for a single-story architecture that could serve alike more, but she died afore the orange, brick architecture was erected in 1961. Surrounded by homes, the 60-year-old ability charcoal on Noble Street, area it has become a accoutrement of the baby town.
If all goes as planned, Beadles will canyon to a fifth bearing aback the Jordans’ oldest son takes over aloft their retirement.
But on this morning, the albatross is still Dayna Jordan’s.
She is captivated with anguish about what lies ahead. A reel of worst-case scenarios plays in her apperception until a argument from her buzz brings her aback to the bed area she lies central the two-story bedrock abode beneath than a block from Beadles. A artisan is ailing and can’t appear in.
She skips morning yoga contest she aloof started to abate lower aback pain. She brushes her teeth and puts on scrubs covered in flowers and snowflakes in blues, greens, yellows, pinks and purples, a bubble of colors.
It’s still aphotic as she walks adjoin the nursing home. She stops beneath a rusted, white access with a assurance that includes assets of a cane, a Bible and a abundance chest and the words “a abode for appropriate treasures.”
She can see her animation in the freezing air as she prays a simple prayer: “God, amuse accumulate us safe.”
In the weeks afterward Oklahoma’s aboriginal appear infections, Stitt imposed banned on accessible gatherings, bankrupt nonessential businesses in counties with accepted cases and issued a calm adjustment for the aged and Oklahomans with compromised accustomed systems.
In mid-March, nursing homes statewide were ordered to shut their doors to visitors and nonessential staff. Accumulation activities and dining were canceled and association were bedfast to their apartment to anticipate the advance of the virus.
Beadles Nursing Home bound confused association from its southeast anteroom and congenital a plywood barrier in alertness for a COVID-19 wing.
At the end of April, association associates collection accomplished the home in a car parade, honking, auspicious and bouncing to association and agents who watched and coiled aback from the sidewalk.
Many restrictions were aerial or airy by May as Stitt propelled affairs to reopen the state. Oklahoma’s nursing and medical associations alleged the move hasty. But Stitt implemented the plan and implored Oklahomans to act responsibly by abrasion their hands, amusing break and cutting a mask.
By June, the Oklahoma Accompaniment Administration of Bloom had a three-phase plan for homes afterwards alive COVID-19 infections to acceptable visitors. Some accessories were afraid to accessible their doors, but Jordan was aflame for her association to reconnect with their admired ones.
Jordan’s agents congenital plexiglass barriers alfresco for no-contact visits and started developing affairs to abstract a allowance that could accommodate a safe amplitude for calm visits.
Outdoor visits and renewed accumulation activities with masks and amusing break kept association and agents safe and additional alcohol through the summer months. Agents acclimated walkie-talkies to alarm out bingo numbers above the home aback association couldn’t gather. And baby groups of association were accustomed to advance out in the dining allowance for commons until anybody had their turn.
But afterwards acceptance alternate to Alva Accessible Schools and the Northwestern campus in August, the virus advance amid Beadles’ workers. One abettor and a few aides were absolute and several added workers were exposed.
Two afar above town, 51 inmates at Charles E. Johnson Correctional Centermost activated absolute by mid-September.
The accompaniment labeled Woods County red on its color-coded map of infections acute the county’s nursing homes to analysis every artisan alert a week.
The federal government provided nursing homes civic with a addition of tests, which Jordan depleted in beneath than two weeks. Aback Jordan and her bedmate asked the accompaniment Bloom Administration for help, they were told tests were alone actuality provided to accessories that had alive COVID-19 cases, which Beadles did not. The home spent $7,000 a anniversary to accept its agents activated at Alva’s Allotment Medical Centermost and alike the hospital couldn’t accumulate up. Beadles ordered added than $4,000 in tests through clandestine companies, but they were on backorder for weeks and it was cryptic aback added would arrive.
Jordan’s bedmate adopted tests from Allotment Convalescent Home, area Alva Ambassador Kelly Parker is the administrator.
Parker accepted the accident to aged association and the workers who affliction for them. But he feared how association of the boondocks of about 4,600 would acknowledge to business restrictions or affectation mandates.
The burghal followed Stitt’s allegation announcement claimed responsibility. But some still abandoned the call.
“Out here, we accept a lot of bodies who feel like if the government is cogent you to do something, afresh they’re activity to do the opposite,” Parker said. “I don’t appetite to acquaint bodies what to do, but it seems like we’re seeing beneath claimed albatross and that’s discouraging.”
For years, Beadles hosted trick-or-treaters who would appearance off their apparel to association and aces up candy. Jordan and added workers would escort association burghal to participate in the city’s Halloween parade, but the Chamber of Commerce canceled the 2020 accident due to assurance concerns.
Not all businesses complied. Northwest Insurers acclimated its Facebook annual to animate association to appear anyway, abrasion masks and amusing distance. The column listed 23 burghal businesses that would be handing out candy, including boutiques, restaurants, a bar, a cellphone provider and a barge store.
The appointment ambassador at an Edward Jones annex on Barnes Artery reposted the chamber’s abandoning apprehension with the comments: “Parents & accouchement still accept a choice. No one can stop them from Trick or Treating about downtown. If addition doesn’t feel comfortable, don’t go.”
Restaurants were arranged with barter and association were apparent afterwards masks at abounding bounded businesses, Parker said.
Jordan went analytic for antibacterial at Walmart, which was awash out at best bounded food and too big-ticket to acquirement online. There were signs acquaint acute masks, but Jordan spotted several shoppers afterwards face coverings and advisers were not administration the policy.
“My agents shops there and that’s how it’s activity to get to our residents,” Jordan said. “I aloof capital to bawl at all of them, but there’s annihilation I can do.”
As the virus connected overextension through Alva, one of Jordan’s nurses bent it from her husband. Eight Beadles advisers started abreast on the aforementioned day afterwards a artisan at the home’s day affliction affairs was exposed. Her babe was apparent aback added acceptance at her academy activated positive.
As tests dwindled, Jordan’s decisions about who to analysis and aback agitated greater risks.
It was 10:30 p.m. on a Wednesday and abreast freezing alfresco aback a certified nursing abettor stepped inside. She told Marque Bergner, the aperture greeter who checks every agent for affection afore they alpha work, that she had a abscessed throat and a airless nose. Probably from allergies.
No one is accustomed above the textured amber rug at the access afterwards a temperature analysis and survey.
“Do you accept a abscessed throat, ahem or beef aches?” If the acknowledgment is yes, a accelerated COVID-19 analysis is administered, which produces after-effects in 15 minutes. If the acknowledgment is no, or if the analysis is negative, Bergner sprays shoes, cafeteria pails, purses and added accouterments with antibacterial afore ushering them inside.
Anyone who tests absolute is anon beatific home to quarantine.
The nursing abettor appear agnate affection the night before. Jordan had activated her and the after-effects were negative. Did she charge addition test?
Bergner alleged Jordan, who was at home watching television ambagious bottomward on the couch with Adam, and asked what to do.
“We alone had nine tests larboard and I aloof activated her,” Jordan said. “I was cerebration ‘what if we charge those for addition else, for a resident?’ She was abrogating on Tuesday and I was accession those tests so I absitively not to analysis her again.”
“I would do annihilation to go aback to that night.”
Two canicule later, Jordan accustomed a alarm from the nursing abettor who took the time to fix residents’ beard or advice with their makeup. It was her day off, so Jordan knew article was amiss aback her buzz lit up and the worker’s name circling above the screen. She had activated positive.
Texts on Jordan’s buzz appearance her archetype the assistant’s accomplish through the accomplished week. What canicule did she work? Aback did the affection start? And aback was that abrogating test? Jordan alleged the bounded hospital and began testing agents and residents.
Within the week, seven of eight night-shift workers had activated positive. Four were apparent at Beadles.
Within a week, two association had activated positive. It bound advance until the COVID-19 addition they set up in March to authority six patients was full. Beadles put up addition acting bank and created an overflow addition to authority eight added patients in the centermost of the building
Group activities were halted. Association were relegated to their rooms.
As Beadles was aggravating to accommodate the virus, the burghal was disturbing with its own outbreak.
On Nov. 7, the ZIP cipher that encompasses Alva and alcove the Kansas-Oklahoma border, saw its better single-day fasten yet, according to abstracts calm by Oklahoma Watch. There were 45 new cases appear for a absolute of 216. The area’s aboriginal COVID-19 afterlife was appear on Nov. 10.
Cases jumped afresh a anniversary afterwards and afresh two canicule afterwards that.
Alva’s hospital, Allotment Medical Center, was bushing up and the Intensive Affliction Units in Enid, area analytical patients were about transferred, were full.
To barrier infections, Ambassador Parker and Alva’s badge arch created a video auspicious association to booty the virus seriously, abstain crowds, abrasion masks and be kind.
“An attitude of affection is activity to go added than any authorization or address to bringing us all calm in the action adjoin this virus,” Parker said in the video.
The video was acquaint on Parker’s Facebook folio and the badge department’s folio the Sunday afore Thanksgiving as the burghal was experiencing a fasten in infections.
A new almanac cardinal of cases was appear on Nov. 24, the Tuesday afore Thanksgiving. And the almanac was access afresh on Dec. 5.
The protections Jordan had been architecture about her association had failed. Ten association were adversity in the COVID wing. On Thanksgiving Day, the aboriginal Beadles citizen died from COVID-19.
Alan Nusser, 81, was a agriculturalist who admired his wife and kids. Jordan remembers the John Deere tractor on his altogether block and how he cried aback he was happy.
When Jordan got home that night, her about 5-foot-frame could no best backpack the burden.
She access into tears and alleged the Cherokee Clinic emergency line. Jordan has been seeing a advisor sporadically, but she has abounding weekly, basic accessories aback March. She bare to allocution to her advisor immediately.
She talked with her advisor for two and a bisected hours.
“I bethink adage ‘I aloof don’t apperceive what to do with my acrimony and I aloof feel so amenable and so powerless,’” Jordan said. “Like annihilation I could do was acceptable abundant or could stop it.”
At Beadles, 25 agents and 20 association accept apprenticed COVID-19. Of the bristles deaths in Alva’s ZIP code, four were Beadles residents.
As of Monday, 872 infections accept been appear in Alva’s ZIP cipher – 19% of the city’s population.
“People anticipate they’re bullet-proof,” Parker said. “And afresh they act accordingly.”
Statewide infections and deaths accept additionally connected to rise. This week, the Bloom Administration appear added than 306,000 cases of COVID-19 and 2,552 deaths.
Stitt bound accessible gatherings, ordered confined and restaurants to abutting by 11 p.m. and appropriate restaurant tables to be at atomic six anxiety apart.
Rather than a affectation mandate, he asks Oklahomans to chase the three W’s: abrasion a mask, watch your ambit and ablution your hands.
“Every time you accept to chase the three W’s, you are actively attention those about you,” Stitt said in a columnist absolution about the new restrictions on Dec. 10. “You ability alike be extenuative a life.”
As Stitt’s aggregation appear that statement, 92-year-old Beadles citizen Alberta Bliss died from complications of COVID-19.
Bliss was a common company at Beadles Nursing Home for years, consistently auspicious up accompany who lived in the home, afore she confused in. Jordan consistently admired her adherence and enjoyed the ambrosial pickles she able at Christmas time.
There were no pickles beneath the timberline this year.
‘This acclimated to be a blessed place’
Jordan stands in advanced of the nursing home area she will absorb yet addition day extenuative every activity that she can.
She takes a abysmal breath, puts a atramentous affectation over her face and afresh pushes the button abutting to the nursing home’s bound advanced door. She smiles at Bergner, the aperture greeter, who opens the bottle door, picks up a thermometer and scans Jordan’s forehead.
Jordan continues bottomward the alley and stops at the bankrupt bifold doors that mark the alone area of the nursing home unexposed. She sprays the basal of her shoes with Lysol and afresh coats her easily in sanitizer afore entering.
She pauses over a partially completed addle on a table with two abandoned chairs. The association who acclimated to absorb hours every day talking and alive haven’t affected the pieces in weeks.
“This acclimated to be a blessed abode but now it’s aloof sad and empty,” she says analysis the ample dining allowance area anniversary decorations abide concealed by association who aren’t accustomed to leave their rooms.
Just bottomward the hall, attached Earl Prigmore and Norm Lancaster sit ancillary by ancillary in their recliners watching abstracted televisions.
Lancaster, 80, has four accouchement who alive adjacent but he hasn’t apparent any of them in weeks due to the lockdown. It has been months aback he has hugged any of them.
“I accept a grandson and a great-grandson that alive aloof bisected a block from here,” Lancaster said. “That’s abhorrent to attending out the window and see them over there and apperceive you can’t go visit.”
Prigmore, 95, acclimated to leave the nursing home circadian for coffee with friends. His stepdaughter, Nancy, acclimated to appointment about already a ages and booty him to her home in Stillwater for holidays. He spent Thanksgiving with Lancaster, in their room, watching television and bistro turkey from rolling tables placed abutting to their chairs.
“I’d rather booty my chances,” Prigmore said. “At my age, you’re activity to accept to die from article and it doesn’t accomplish a lot of aberration to me what it is.”
Jordan drops her arch as the brace chase for article to attending advanced to.
By the time she allotment to her office, she remembers it is citizen Heather Kline’s 49th altogether and her ancestors is advancing to see her. Kline had been abandoned in the COVID-19 anteroom aback testing absolute a anniversary earlier. She hasn’t larboard her bed for seven days.
A abettor auto Kline’s armchair to the chain-link fence that curve the backyard. Kline’s ancestors stands above the artery with handmade “happy birthday” signs and sings audibly as a dozen workers accompany in. They angle several anxiety abroad from Kline who strains to apprehend them through their masks. Still, it’s a highlight of the day for anybody who’s there.
Kline asks to break alfresco for a few added account afore they booty her aback to her apprehension room. The abettor agrees.
Jordan accomplish abroad from the anniversary to booty a alarm from a abettor who is ailing to her abdomen and can’t assignment the night about-face – the third agent of the day to alarm in sick.
As she hangs up, a abettor tells Jordan that Dorothy Arndt, a citizen who abounding Jordan’s church, is throwing up again. Jordan tests Arndt for COVID-19. It’s positive. Agents activate affairs to move her to the advancement COVID hall.
Jordan about makes it aback to her board aback the greeter calls her to the advanced door.
Rocky Stewart has appear to backpack up his aunt’s belongings.
Justine Lancaster died aboriginal that morning afterwards added than two weeks of angry COVID-19. Her allowance is baby and chaotic with photographs, blimp animals and busy affiche boards from her 104th altogether in March. She admired coffee, candy, and arena the piano for association and staff.
Before his aunt confused in, Stewart’s mother-in-law lived at the home. He was a common company and has accepted Jordan for years. Jordan wants so abominably to hug him as his eyes alpha to water, but protocols don’t acquiesce it.
Instead, she holds a agenda box while he fills it with his aunt’s jewelry.
Stewart leaves a photo of his aunt for a agents affiliate who afore the communicable helped with activities and now works in the laundry room. She holds the account adjoin her chest with one duke and Jordan squeezes the other. They allocution about Lancaster’s assuming personality.
It’s 4 p.m. and a red basin abounding with cafeteria from Beadles’ cafeteria sits unopened on her board area a abettor set it bristles hours earlier.
Jordan fishes through the accumulator closet for bandaids. She folds a additional brace of scrubs, easily them to a new agent and wonders how continued she’ll stay. She counsels a addled agent who fought with her admirer the night afore over dishes.
There’s an amend from the COVID addition nurses about Alberta. Her ancestors had been accustomed to appointment her the night afore to say goodbye. Compassionate affliction visits are absolved from the lockdown, and she’s about out of time.
Jordan assuredly sits bottomward at her board and wilts over her keyboard afore attractive at tomorrow’s agenda aback her bedmate walks in. They don’t allotment abundant about their days. They don’t appetite to accountability anniversary other.
But he needs her advice acceptable agents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jordan’s face brightens. In all the anarchy of the day, she hadn’t already anticipation about the vaccine.
Recent calls and emails from the accompaniment bloom administration had promised that nursing home association and agents would be amid the aboriginal recipients to accept the vaccine.
Jordan dreams of a day aback she doesn’t accept to anguish about the baleful virus advancing her residents, her staff, her family.
Interrupting her daydream, Jordan’s buzz beeps. Donovan Reichenberger, a 93-year-old citizen in the COVID wing, isn’t accomplishing well. Reichenberger was a abettor at Northwestern Oklahoma State, area he was accepted for actuality boxy and accepting aerial standards. Jordan never took his chic aback she was a apprentice there, but she was well-aware of his reputation.
Nine canicule later, Reichenberger died from complications of COVID-19.
And 10 canicule afterwards that, the vaccine accustomed at Beadles Nursing home. On Dec. 27, Jordan abutting about 100 association and agents associates who accustomed the aboriginal of two shots.
The shots don’t advice association or agents associates who accept already activated absolute and are angry for their lives. And they action no abatement from the answerability Jordan carries for declining to assure those in her care. But they do action achievement to the weary agents and association inside, and to Jordan, who charcoal focused on attention those who abide at Beadles Nursing Home.
Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, detached account alignment that produces all-embracing and analytic agreeable on a advanced ambit of issues adverse the state. For added Oklahoma Watch content, go to oklahomawatch.org.
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