COMMENTARY: One year since lockdown at Mabie nursing facility

Gae Miguel writes about her mom's experience at the Mabie skilled nursing facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This commentary was contributed by resident Gae Miguel. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

It’s almost been one year since my mom has been in lockdown in Mabie Southside facility.

My mom started out this pandemic with a short pixy haircut. Who would have ever imagined her at 91, with a new hairstyle that is the most flattering she’s ever had!

Dorothy "Dot" Lemos. Photo provided by Gae Miguel.
Dorothy “Dot” Lemos two and a half months before the lockdown. Photo provided by Gae Miguel.

This is the first time any of her children and grandchildren have seen her sporting long hair with short bangs that the caregivers keep cut regularly! But they don’t stop there. Every day they style it so neatly with french braids or cute pony tails! Miraculously she figured out how to call us on video messenger, and when she does she loves to show us her daily hairstyles! We all get the biggest kick out of how cute and happy she looks!

They’ve offered to have it cut for her…and she responds, “No thank you, I’m enjoying my new hairstyles! Plus I want to wait for my daughter to be able to enter the facility to cut my hair. She’s my hairstylist.” (That’s me—but honestly we are all considering leaving it long since her hair has never looked better! )

The staff there have taken such great care of her. She raves about Sonia, who plans the entertainment and I think she also does the decorating. She’s been a God-send during this time. Plus there are many others that have become like a second family to her. Yvonne does an amazing job. She makes sure our parents get the care they need, are happy and safe. And another CNA my mom loves is Cora. She’s been known to dance and sing as she is administering care. I’ve witnessed it myself. She’s very entertaining! I wish I knew all of their names because they all do their jobs so so well!

I don’t know all their names, but when I’m visiting my mom through the window, many of the staff and caregivers pass by, and she will either chat with them as they pass by or say, “Oh there goes so and so…. she’s my favorite, or he/she’s tops!” It’s such a blessing to witness.

Dorothy "Dot" Lemos on Valentine's Day. Photo courtesy of Gae Miguel.
Dorothy “Dot” Lemos on Valentine’s Day. Photo courtesy of Gae Miguel.

To be totally honest, we had a very difficult time caring for my mom for three years at her home. She was very hard to please and quite a challenge for every caregiver we hired. It was the most stressful time of all of our lives.

In early September 2019 my mom had been admitted into Mabie Southside for physical therapy. This was quite a transition for her. We were taking it one day at a time. So, naturally we worried how she would respond when they went on lockdown three months later. But thankfully we were pleasantly surprised as she has been a trooper with such a positive attitude throughout this pandemic journey. We owe it all to answered prayers and to the amazing care she is receiving at Mabie Southside facility.

Besides the amazing emotional care the staff takes of their patients, they have taken every precaution to keep them safe during this pandemic. They’ve had continuous routine testing, many have received both vaccines, and they practice daily safety measures and strict protocol. Throughout the year, when the numbers are lower, there have been times when she asks us to bring her something she needs, and they are very consistent about keeping it for a few days before giving it to her to make sure it’s safe.

I can speak for my mom’s entire family that words can’t express how much we appreciate the care they provide her daily. This last year, the staff at Mabie facility has been her God-given family!

An update: My mother called excited to tell me the good news! She was about to go play bingo as usual, but learned they would be allowed to return to playing all together with all the residents in the big room. Often they also serve coffee and cookies! For this whole year in order to be safe but also keep some sense of normalcy, they’ve been playing bingo in little small groups near their room. This is progress and a sense of joy and hope for them!

Gae Miguel