Life in nursing homes ‘is what it is’ during pandemic

Patricia Chvilicek

By Mary Clarkin
Despite the pandemic and even with restrictions on outside visitors, nursing homes are taking new residents.
Patricia “Patsy” Chvilicek, 82, moved into Villa Maria, Mulvane, June 4. She had broken her leg previously and is confined to bed. Her mobility is expected to improve, but she plans to make Villa Maria her home.
The move means “window visits” with family instead of room visits.
“I have a very good son and his family. I don’t know if people didn’t have the backing of their family how they would handle it. I really don’t,” Chvilicek said.
Widowed at 29, Chvilicek raised her son and worked for Southwestern Bell for 35 years. The hardest part of her transition isn’t the isolation but having to rely on staff to assist with even the simplest movements, she said. She plays games or puzzles on her iPad, and the television is on when she’s up, even when she’s not watching it.
She teases staff, and they tease her back. She isn’t focused on the coronavirus and avoids news channels on TV.
“Life gives you what you’re going to have, so you have to be satisfied with it. It is what it is, so I’ve pretty much resigned myself to just take it as it comes,” she said.
Villa Maria and Family Health and Rehab, Wichita are among a number of facilities that have had COVID-19 cases affecting staff and/or residents but no deaths, according to Sedgwick County.
Lana Brull’s 87-year-old mother, Joan (pronounced Joann) Gilmore, lives in the latter facility.
“The last day I hugged her was March 10,” Brull said. “I’m just glad she’s where she’s at in this pandemic.”
Her mother suffers from dementia and can’t talk. During online visits, Brull asks her questions that can be answered by a nod of the head.
Brull’s niece recently died of COVID-19. Also, some family members have tested positive for the virus.
“When it rains, it pours,” Brull said.
The decision has been made that if Joan Gilmore”s family has made the desicion that if she becomes infected and ill, she won’t be transported to the hospital. She didn’t want to be on life support, Brull said, “plus I want her with people that love her.”
“You just pray every day that you don’t get that dreaded phone call.”

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