SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Our nation’s nursing homes have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a quarter of all deaths linked to the facilities.
The number of residents who have died at the Good Samaritan Sioux Falls Village is now at 15. The Village is among nearly seven thousand homes that have contracted the virus and while that’s alarming, they aren’t personal until it affects someone you love.
82-year-old Mary Jane Brown had a full life with five children and a large extended family.
“She was hardworking, she was honest. It was very important to do the right thing. She was dedicated; very devoted to my dad and all of us kids and grandchildren and great grandchildren,” Daughter Glenna Krebs said.
A few years ago, Mary Jane began showing signs of dementia. Her family turned to Good Samaritan Village for her care. When the nursing home realized they had a COVID-19 outbreak last month, Mary Jane tested negative. Then a little over a week ago, she got sick.
“Within two days, she was pretty sick. We had not been able to see her for over a month, because they had restricted visitation,” Krebs said.
Mary Jane didn’t have any other pre-existing conditions, but COVID-19 attacked her lungs.
Kennecke: Were you able to see her before she died?
Krebs: I was. I was. I was able to go on Saturday morning and she died about an hour and a half after I left.
Her immediate family had to wear personal protective equipment.
“So we were able to touch her–with gloved hands, things like that. Not quite the same.”Glenna Krebs on seeing 82-year-old mother before she died of COVID-19
Mary Jane’s family believes The Village handled the outbreak the best it could and has seen the toll its taking on staff.
“It’s very emotional. It takes a lot out of the person. You can see it on the staff; myself personally. You become very connected with these people; they become your family and just losing them, especially in that quantity is very hard.”Brittany Brees, Good Samaritan Sioux Falls Village Nurse
Nurse Brittany Brees says the staff stays focused on safely caring for its residents and uplifting each other.
Kennecke: Are you afraid for your own health, or the health of your family?
Brees: Yes, I have two small children at home, so I worry about that. But I know at work, I take the precautions that I need to protect myself and I have my own little routine I take before I go home, so I don’t bring it to my family.
Meanwhile, Mary Jane’s family is planning for a visitation in shifts, along with a burial reflective of the times.
“We will be masked and observing social distance and it will be outside,” Krebs said.
So far 59 residents at the Good Samaritan Society Sioux Falls Village have tested positive. Currently 21 staff members are positive for COVID-19 and 18 staff have recovered from the virus