Donnie and Pat Marvin have missed their face-to-face visits with Pat’s brother, Kenny Markham, who’s a resident at St. Luke’s Elmore Medical Center long-term care facility.
When Governor Brad Little’s stay-at-home order took effect March 25, visits to Idaho’s most vulnerable residents within nursing homes and long-term care facilities were limited due to risk of possible COVID-19 exposure.
“I usually go and see Kenny about once a week,” Donnie said. “This is kind of rough on me not being able to see him.”
To get by, Donnie visited Kenny by sitting outside a window at the facility and talking with him over the phone.
That’s when the St. Luke’s Elmore team organized a drive-by parade for long-term care residents to boost spirits. They wanted their residents to know even though visits with family are limited, they’re not forgotten and still loved.
“Our residents have been so wonderful through this whole process,” said Margaret Nunez, St. Luke’s Elmore’s long-term care residential advocate.
“We thought it would be great to give families an opportunity to see that they’re doing OK, wave hello, blow kisses and just to celebrate being outside and having a fun day,” she said.
The parade helped families feel connected again.
“He’ll get a kick out of it. He loves things like this,” Pat said. They decorated the family’s car with balloons and posters. “We’re going to let all of the residents know that we love them and we’re here from them and hope that they really enjoy the parade.”
With personalized signs, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and masks, the residents were escorted outside and lined up six feet apart along the sidewalk behind St. Luke’s Elmore. Friends, family, St. Luke’s employees, community board members and supporters from the Mountain Home community slowly drove by in decorated vehicles.
Cliff Rediker also participated in the parade. His mother Vennetta is another long-term care resident.
“Oh, we love it. This is wonderful. Any time she sees any of us, even if it’s just through the window, she’s pretty happy,” Cliff said.
The Rediker family has also stayed connected with Venetta through window visits and by frequent phone calls. They understand the need to protect their elderly loved one.
“We’re just so glad this is where she’s at when all of this is going on,” Melanie Rediker, Venetta’s daughter-in-law, said. “When we’re not able to check on her all the time we know she’s got quality people looking after her.”
The parade, although short, provided a connection and familiar smiles many of these residents say they needed, along with some time outside in the sunshine all together as a community.
“I love it,” shouted resident Gayle Baidy. “It’s very, very thoughtful that people would do this for us.”
Anita Kisseé is the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.