HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Nursing home workers across the country are facing the largest challenge of their careers right now, as they try to protect the most vulnerable among us.
In Alabama, 75% of the people who have died of COVID-19 have been 65 or older.
Every week, we continue to see more outbreaks in nursing homes across the state.
At Huntsville Health and Rehabilitation they have been cautious and fortunate. So far, none of their residents or employees have tested positive.
William Tyson is the administrator, he’s proud of his employees and residents but knows each day they have to keep on pushing.
“We can’t let our guard down because there are lives at risk,” he said.
Tyson said they have taken a lot of precautions from screening employees everyday to keeping a tight watch on all of their residents.
“We make sure that if any residents have any signs or symptoms of respiratory distress we immediately jump on it,” he said. “When we say jump on it, we mean we start doing the assessment and if necessary we might do a COVID-19 test depending on what the doctor recommends.”
At Huntsville Health and Rehabilitation, Tyson said they have 85 people living there and 130 employees. That is a lot of people to try and keep healthy.
“I am concerned about all my residents in the facility and also my employees,” he said.
Tyson said they use a system to help each other make sure everyone is being safe called “watch out for your neighbor”.
“If we see someone that’s doing something that may put themselves at risk or someone else at risk we identify those areas,” Tyson said.
Along with all of this stress, Tyson knows it's important to keep the morale of the residents and employees up.
“We go over and beyond to try and make our residents happy, currently our residents are getting a lot of visits from the outside community so we’re doing things inside to compensate for those missed visits,” he said.
Tyson said the residents do a lot of video chat and calls with family.
Even though his residents can’t see their families right now, he said they are all one big family at the center.
“I think what really motivates the team is knowing that the patients are really taken care of,” Tyson said.
But, that is part of the problem.
“What affects one person affects them all, one of my employees gets sick. It affects all of them, not just employees but also the residents in the facility,” he said.
That is why we see COVID-19 spread so quickly in nursing homes.
“We can’t really identify our enemy, which is the virus, because the virus can be anywhere but what we do is continue to focus on best practices and stay focused on the information we have at hand”
Tyson said they can’t focus on the unknowns though.
“Things that we don’t know about, we can’t control but things that we do know help to reduce the spread of the virus we try and control those things and try to eliminate all those risk factors.”
None of this, of course, would be possible without the hardworking employees at Huntsville Therapy and Rehabilitation.
Tyson said without their dedication and hard work to the residents, none of their success so far in stopping the spread of the virus would be possible.
“We have to take time to celebrate our successes and our accomplishments but we have to continue to push. We have to continue to push because we know each day that threat is outside of our door and we don’t want that threat to come inside.”