From masks to ‘visiting’ through windows: How one Virginia Beach nursing home is dealing with COVID-19

10 On Your Side

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — In the Virginia Senate, there are three medical professionals.

One of them is nurse practitioner Jen Kiggans, (R-Virginia Beach), who is set to advocate for some of Virginia’s most vulnerable as concerns about COVID-19 spread.

“My concern is keeping our older population safe and healthy. They are a vulnerable group. We need to prevent the spread of the coronavirus… and keep at it,” she said.

10 On Your Side met Kiggans at the Citadel Virginia Beach, a nursing home with 118 elderly people in the facility as of Friday.

These are who Kiggans calls “her people.”

“I am here to advocate for them because these are my people with this coronavirus. It affects people older more than younger. It is important that we practice social distancing, and we keep visitors out, so as not to introduce the virus to them.”

After the General Assembly Session ended, Kiggans became engaged in dealing with coronavirus. She said she conducts some telehealth appointments so patients do not need to leave home and come into the office.

“We are on calls with the governor’s staff daily, even on the national level. We got great healthcare teams in place, great epidemiologists are looking at the numbers, so I think all the right things are in place. We just need to listen to these people. It is not time to incite fear into people. We need to keep doing what we’re doing.”

At Citadel Virginia Beach, no one goes in. Even family members are not allowed. Here’s the good news: no one inside Citadel has the virus, and they want to keep it that way.

In the age of coronavirus, there are new rules for Mike Austin whose delivering medications,

“we have to check our temperature. We have to make sure we have no fever before we go in. We wear masks, gloves, and that’s something we didn’t normally do.”

The Citadel’s Medical Director is Dr. James Hatcher. He has a full grasp of the 1918 flu outbreak and says the similarities are eerily familiar.

“We are experiencing the same type of situations as then. We are worried about finances, and medical personnel are worried about protective equipment, and we had volunteers making masks… All that is happening today.”

The Citadel’s Christina Holloway is a nurse practitioner overseeing the making of protective masks since early March. They go over medical masks, including the N95 masks, so they can be reused.

“This is really important. The less we tapped into the supply chain for masks, the more hospitals would have,” Holloway told 10 On Your Side as she held several masks ready for distribution.

She also has one she keeps in a case.

“I wash the cover at night, and I spray alcohol on it. It dries quickly, and doesn’t stain, and that sanitizes it. It doesn’t ruin it, and then I wash the cover, and I wear it the next day.”

Kiggans is now coordinating the creation and distribution of masks lots of them,

“We are using these masks to cover the existing masks. We have them, and we can extend the life of some of our [personal protective equipment]. They are very comfortable for everyone to wear, from people in the office to our nursing staff.”

Catholic High and St. Gregory the Great Catholic School students also wrote notes to elderly residents and healthcare staff.

Kiggans read part of a note: “Thank you so much for your courage. You are truly heroes and amazing role models.”

And then there’s the Butler family, who’s working to support one resident in a heartwarming way.

10 On Your Side found them at the front door of the Citadel. As new policy, family members are not allowed in. The family was directed to the side of the building, and their beloved 97-year-old Katie Butler was brought to the window.

There was much laughter as the family communicated. Butler had four generations of family members lined up to yell through the window.

“How you doing Mom? We love you. You doing all right? We miss you,” her daughter Vicki Wooding yelled through the glass.

Wooding said the opportunity to see their relative was better than not seeing her at all.

“Well, it’s better to do this than not to see her at all. That’s true. It’s tough. It’s really tough. It’s hard,” she said.

Great-grandson Kody summed it up.

“We understand there’s a lot going on with the country, and globally, so we are taking it one day at a time,” he said.

Her son Larry Butler told 10 On Your Side the family is “so grateful for that opportunity to see her.”

And then it was time to close the curtain, and for the family to leave after just 10 minutes.

But what a visit — they described it as “awesome.”

“It’s been such a blessing to see my grandmother. Just to lay my eyes on her even through the window has been such a blessing and I’m just so grateful for that,” granddaughter Kim Panchana said.

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