Jones-Harrison president: ‘We have two cases’

The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.

All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.

Annette Greely, Jones-Harrison president

I’m the new president and CEO of Jones-Harrison, so I just started at the beginning of February. Pre-COVID, I was just coming in and getting to know the organization, meeting the residents and the staff. 

Then March came and I had to switch gears. We had to start getting ready for having a patient. 

On March 12, we locked the doors and put the signs out and notified all the families and had meetings with our residents. Residents are now eating all the meals in their rooms, not doing any group activities. We’re all wearing masks. We have meetings where we’re all 6 feet apart. We video chat with each other from our offices. It’s a very fluid situation. We’re making almost daily changes. 

We have two cases now. We had our first COVID case Monday and a second today. The nurses are working to try to figure out the source. We’ve done multiple tests but, until this week, they were all coming back negative. 

The individuals who have tested positive go into what we call droplet precautions. They’re in isolation, and we wear full PPE [personal protection equipment] to treat them. We’re assigning one staff person to each of them, so we don’t have multiple people going in. We’re taking precautions to keep the residents well, keep the staff safe and to stop any spread. We’re going to create a designated area for COVID patients. The staff is working out those logistics now. 

None of our staff have gotten it yet, but I wish there was more testing. We’ve had staff we haven’t allowed to work because their spouse was ill, and the spouse is told they’re not eligible for testing.

It’s a phenomenal group of nurses. Barb [Joyce, the senior home’s infection preventionist] is so good and so caring. I cannot tell you how dedicated everybody’s been. 

It’s been very challenging to be a new leader in this situation, but I do feel supported. It’s stressful because I care so much about my staff, I care about the residents. I want everybody to be safe and healthy and that weighs on me. There are also financial strains related to adding staff and finding PPE. Now that we have cases, you can burn through PPE pretty fast. 

We’ve been creative. We found a gentleman down in New Ulm who’s been making washable gowns out of camouflage material. We ordered some from him, and it’s been fun. We have some people walking around in some camo! 

You’re just appreciative that people out there are caring and doing things like that for us. Our IT director’s wife made us cloth masks. I wear a cloth mask to save the other masks for our staff on the front lines. That’s one of those silver linings Gov. Walz talks about. I’m really glad I live in Minnesota.