One Year Mark: PMC LTC Remains COVID-19 Free

It was just about a year ago when our lives changed. After many weeks of watching other countries feel the impacts of this mystery virus, we started seeing cases in the United States and Montana. It would be some time before we saw multiple cases in our own county, but just the same, we went into shelter-in-place and our schools went to remote learning for what we thought would be 2 weeks. Slowly, the virus spread, and changes were implemented. PMC closed our doors to the public and even halted some services. It was a difficult adjustment and we missed seeing cars in our parking lot and shaking hands with our friends and having lunch with co-workers.

March 12th was the last day in 2020 we had visitors in our nursing home. Our facility is well known for our nursing home, especially our Life Enrichment program, and families are a big piece of the success. We celebrate holidays and birthdays and see visitors every day, normally. It’s been challenging logistically, as well as emotionally. Keeping our residents protected from a virus that we knew affected our most vulnerable has been our top priority, as well as protecting our patients and community, and staff. But it hasn’t been as simple as keeping visitors away… we had to figure out how to test every employee every week and sometimes twice per week. We implemented screening tools and other protective measures, and personnel from every department banded together to be there late nights and early mornings. If staff had to quarantine or stay home with a family member who was quarantined, that meant changing staff or extra hours for some.

However, a year later, PMC is proud to say that we are one of the only facilities left in the state who has not seen a positive COVID-19 case in our long-term care facility. We credit our staff for their diligence and our leadership for staying on top of guidelines needing to be implemented.

Chief Nursing Officer, Laura Erickson, shares, “Our staff rose to the occasion. We’ve navigated the restriction and challenges- including staff shortages, extra requirements from CMS, and adjusting how we care for our residents- and we will continue to do so. We really have to give kudos to all our staff. COVID came into our community and even at the peak of active cases which affected some of our workers and their families, we never saw a case in our nursing home. That shows me that our team took the precautions seriously and sanitized, washed their hands, and wore their masks. It just makes me very proud of the diligence they showed when it would’ve been very possible for the virus to get into our nursing home. We don’t know how the virus will affect each individual and I’m so thankful we haven’t had to know how it would affect our residents. There have been some challenging days and it’s been long, so to say we are proud is an understatement—our team has shown a lot of resilience, professionalism, and compassion.”

We’ve just recently had the opportunity to slowly open our doors to families, per CMS guidelines, and your graciousness is so appreciated. Following the visitor requirements is what gives us the chance to open our doors and welcome you- and that’s the only way we can continue. Thank you for abiding and for your good attitudes! We promise we want you here as badly as you want to be here. Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed and we have been grateful to work alongside you for your loved ones. Thank you for masking, washing your hands, distancing, and working with life enrichment to schedule visits. Your cooperation is what allows your loved ones the chance to see you—and we know how special it is. We are humbled to be a part of your lives.

Most mask mandates have been lifted in Montana as well as other restrictions. We still require masks on our campus in all of our facilities and encourage the use of masks in the community where social distancing is difficult. It’s been a year… stick with us a little longer.

An encouraging word from our own Chief of Staff, Dr. Jay Taylor:

“For the past year, our staff and residents have done a phenomenal job protecting themselves from Covid-19. The risk still remains, however, so as we begin to loosen restrictions per federal government guidelines, please help us continue to keep them healthy by following the guidelines that have set forth for us. I also want to express my heartfelt thanks to the families that had to endure the last year away from their loved ones. 2021 will be a better year for all of us!”

Thanks for allowing us to serve some of the greatest people you’ll ever meet. We are proud to be your hometown hospital. It is our hope that the peace of mind we’ve been able to give our residents and their families has brought your solace in comfort during a difficult year. That’s why we’re here—and we’ll be here for the good days and hard ones, pandemic or otherwise, 24/7, 365.

“Best of Care, Close to Home” is more than our tagline. It’s how we do healthcare.

Dan Aakre choose to mask because he could work with your Grandmother!