Copperas Cove Five Hills Junior Ambassador Naomi Williams reached for the marker of the color, Goldenrod, and began coloring the “s” on a poster that would ultimately spell “sparkle” surrounding by stars and flowers. Williams, 6, was extra careful to color within the lines as she wanted the poster to be her best work for the residents of Copperas Cove Nursing and Rehabilitation facility.
Since February 6, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issued official Coronavirus guidance for health care providers in all care settings in an effort to control the rate of COVID-19 transmission. However, a special focus is on nursing homes because these facilities house the country’s population most susceptible to COVID-19.
Williams is a regular visitor to the nursing home playing bingo with the residents during the summer and visiting when out for school breaks. During the pandemic, she is not able to visit her elderly friends who look forward to the high-energy kindergartener bouncing throughout the facility.
“I haven’t (seen) them in a while,” Williams said. “My mommy said we couldn’t visit because a lot of people were getting sick and we have to keep them safe. So, I wanted to color them some pictures to make them happy.”
To date, 80 percent of deaths related to COVID-19 are of persons 65 years old or older. Visits from friends and family are generally prohibited. There is an exception for compassionate care situations, such as end-of-life visits. All individuals permitted to enter the facility must perform hand hygiene and use personal protective equipment.
Since she cannot go inside the facility, Williams decided to bring the residents joy from the outside by creating yard signs to post in front of their windows.
“I made signs that said ‘thinking of you’ and ‘we love you’ and I colored them. I also put stickers on them for the words,” Williams said. “I made those because that is what I wanted to tell them. I want them to know I love them and miss them.”
Junior Miss Five Hills Hayley Sawyer and Preteen Miss Five Hills Kaydence Roberts supported Williams’ efforts by also creating signs with messages such as “Hello gorgeous” and “Hello handsome’ as well as “smile” and “You are loved.”
Nursing home marketing director Trae Cunningham said the physical distancing interaction brought joy to those cooped up inside.
“The residents love the signs. Some of them watched the girls put them up and it made their day,” Cunningham said. “It means a lot to them to know they are loved.”
Essential personnel are permitted to enter nursing homes, but all are still screened before entering. Entry is denied to any personnel who have a fever, cough or shortness of breath.
“We have to let the grannies and grandpas know we love them,” Williams said. “I don’t like to be alone. I don’t want them to feel sad and alone. I want them to be happy.”