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NHC strives to keep residents happy during extraordinary times
NHC - touch me at the window.jpg
Visitors aren’t allowed inside the NHC facility, but staff members were able to arrange a special moment for Evelyn Panter on her birthday. She touches hands with her son, Chris Panter, through a large window in the dining room.

It’s been weeks since NHC Healthcare in McMinnville shut its doors to outside visitors in an attempt to keep coronavirus out of its nursing home.

The efforts have been successful, but the isolation has been difficult for patients and their family members.

“Patients are already out of their normal environment when they come here,” said NHC activity director Amanda Sain. “To say they can’t have visits from their friends and family members makes it even tougher. But everyone has been understanding and they realize why we’re doing this. The potential for harm from the virus with the segment of the population is just terrifying.”

Staff members have been trying to liven the mood by creating enjoyable in-house activities. This has included visits from animals, concerts from the courtyard, and regular Bingo games where residents play from the comfort of their own room.

“We’ve been busy sharing smiles and keeping patients and families as connected as possible,” said Sain, who indicated technology like Skype has allowed residents to maintain face-to-face contact with family.

Residents had a hopping good time with new visitors to the NHC courtyard – eight bunnies of all sizes and colors courtesy of Tic Tac Farms. A white albino bunny was a favorite of the residents and dubbed Snowball.

Singing groups have also performed from the courtyard since they are not allowed into the facility. A group from Covenant Church sang gospel tunes and, in a separate concert, Jon Kring entertained with the wonderful sounds of his harmonica.

Griffin Winton and Daniel Sheets brought their guitars and performed a two-man show. Residents opened their windows to soak in songs that included Johnny Cash and the timeless Tennessee staple “Rocky Top.”

Another special visitor was therapy dog Dunkin, who usually stops by NHC two Mondays a month with owner Patty Allen. Dunkin isn’t allowed inside during current restrictions, but he still gave some patients a “paws up” from their windows.

Special occasions don’t stop just because the NHC building is on lockdown mode. Evelyn Panter recently celebrated a birthday with a giant chocolate cupcake and a window visit from two of her sons.

“Now more than ever, our patients need us,” said Sain. “They miss their families and their families miss them. We’re thinking outside the box to do all we can for them.”