Through COVID, Meadowview Finds Strength in Each Other
Everyone has a different idea of what a hero is or looks like. In the movies, some heroes wear capes, save people from dangerous situations and keep them safe. The direct support professionals (DSP) are the heroes at Monarch’s Meadowview group home in Wingate, southeast of Charlotte in Union County.
Meadowview group home, a red brick ranch style home on a quiet, tree-lined street, is currently home to five residents. It is an intermediate care facility (ICF) for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
DSP Kathy Reid served as interim residential manager during the peak of the pandemic lockdown in spring and summer 2020. She shares what it was like to care for and grieve after two Monarch residents passed away due to contracting COVID.
The Reality of the Pandemic
“We all knew what was going on with the pandemic but didn’t know how it really was until it hit home and that is when it was real,” Reid recalled. It began with a resident becoming ill and visiting the doctor twice with no clear diagnosis and returning to the group home. Finally, the resident was experiencing serious symptoms and was taken to the hospital with Reid reassuring her she would be right by her side, not knowing the hospital restrictions in place. It was eventually confirmed that the resident had contracted COVID.
Reid explained that she felt awful not being by her side and having to sit in her car outside of the hospital. “She had a beautiful spirit and I looked forward to seeing her every day,” Reid said of the female resident she had cared for during the past two years. The resident passed away in the hospital after being taken off a respirator.
“I felt like I failed her because I couldn’t be there and I wasn’t there,” Reid said with tears welling up in her eyes. “ . . . She makes me work hard so we wouldn’t lose any one else. I can’t lose another person supported. No one else can die.”
Reid continued to work at the group home but could not see her children and grandchildren for three months, quarantining herself after each shift.
One more resident and two more staff eventually contracted coronavirus. The second resident, an older gentleman, passed away in a nursing home, after being transferred there, and the two staff recovered. Several Meadowview DSPs had to leave their jobs because they had family to take care of at home.
Leaning on Each Other
Reid said Monarch management kept in constant communication with the Meadowview staff as well as registered nurse Jennifer Kendall, who answered questions and guided the team to make sure all safety precautions were being carried out.
Reid realized her staff was scared. This situation was unlike anything they had ever experienced so she relied on her over 20 years of health care experience. Her main goal was to keep the residents safe and healthy. As a mother and grandmother, Reid said the residents are like her family.
With safety protocols in place and adjustments to the group home, the staff at Meadowview continued caring for residents. They cleaned and sanitized the home. They wore face masks and social distanced.
How did Reid find strength? “God, prayer and listening to inspirational music,” she answered, and moving forward for the first Meadowview resident who passed away. “I did it for her. I didn’t want to see another resident go to the hospital or see one of our residents die alone in the hospital.”
Reid admits many days were difficult but she leaned on her fellow DSPs for support: “I felt like I couldn’t take a break until everyone was well. I didn’t think about how tired I was. . . . My reward was to keep everyone healthy and safe. I am not satisfied until everyone is OK, even to this day.”
Pandemic Lessons Learned
Reid said she learned many valuable lessons through the pandemic. “The pandemic taught us that when you realize that to save lives and keep your family safe, you must change to stay safe.” And, Reid said that mindset continues today within Meadowview.
As we ease forward safety protocols have become second nature in everyday life and the COVID vaccination helps us feel a little safer, Reid reflects on the resilience that makes Meadowview special.
“We are a house that sticks out because we are solid. A lot of things get thrown at us and we always bounce back up. Things happen but staff responds quickly. We work together. We have compassion for one another. We make sure the people we support get what they need. That is the number one thing. We always try to do what is best for the people we support,” she expressed.
Reid is grateful for her fellow DSPs who worked during the pandemic which included Kendra Hamilton, Diane Barrino, Katrice Christian, Tina Sturdivant, Vickie McBride and Dennis Hillian, in addition to Service Manager Natasha Black and Director of Program Operations Letisha Calloway.
Posted on: Tuesday August 31, 2021