On a regular day, dealing with loss is hard. With COVID-19, dealing with loss has become even harder because of the separation social distancing has prompted.
Add in the mix of living in a facility where, because of COVID-19, can have only limited interactions with the outside world overall, and things can become difficult.
Recently, one of Central Alabama Veteran Health Care System’s New Horizon Community Living Center Veterans, Jessie Barnes, Sr., experienced a personal loss. Barnes Sr., a Marine Veteran lost his son, Jessie Barnes, Jr., an Army Veteran.
Because of COVID-19 and its subsequent precautions and restrictions, Barnes Sr. was not going to make it to his own son’s funeral. That was unacceptable to the staff.
“When the wife notified the staff of the passing of their son, the staff felt the loss especially since he has been a long time resident,” said Dr. Audrey Hodge, associate chief of staff for Geriatrics and Extended Care. “We arranged a quiet and serene location for the resident with the staff surrounding him for comfort.”
Sang with the hymns and smiled at the playing of Taps
Ana Cintron, clinical social worker, agreed to be there for the Veteran. Using cell phones and iPads (pictured above), Cintron, nurse Kim Echols and Hodge accessed the virtual viewing of Barnes Jr.’s funeral.
“Despite his loss, Mr. Barnes was thankful to be a part of his son’s going home service. He sang with the hymns and smiled when his son was honored with the playing of Taps,” said Cintron.
During the mass, Hodge provided Barnes Sr. with ingredients to partake in communion.
Shirley Barnes, Barnes Sr.’s wife, appreciated the assistance given to the Veteran. “I really appreciate everything they have done. Mr. Barnes and his son were very very close and he really really wanted to be a part of this,” Cintron added.
“Part of something he would have missed”
“I would like to express my gratitude to them for making his attendance possible,” Shirley said. “This was a very low point in our lives and they helped him to be able to be a part of something that he would have missed if he would not have been at that facility.”
“In the Community Living Center we continue to strive to meet the challenges of COVID with family comfort. We remain dedicated to providing excellence in nursing home care,” said Dr. Hodge.
For more information about VA Community Living Centers visit https://www.va.gov/GERIATRICS/pages/VA_Community_Living_Centers.asp
Maria Vinson is a public affairs specialist for the Central Alabama Veteran Health Care System.