The charitable religious community serves the most vulnerable population -- the elderly.
As 2020 progresses into spring, COVID-19 — commonly known as the coronavirus — has become the topic on everyone’s mind. Each day more reports arise of the virus infecting people all across the globe, and as some countries are announcing a state of emergency, there’s a group of nuns in Washington D.C. who are finding great success in keeping it out of their elderly care facilities.
Residents of nursing homes are some of the people who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 when exposed to this novel coronavurus. It’s symptoms are flu-like, and Healthline notes that 70%-85% of flu-related deaths occur among those 65 years and older. CNA’s Christine Rousselle cites the number of cases found in the US:
At least 1,088 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States and 31 people are reported to have died from the virus. More than half of the deaths, 19, were connected to a single nursing home in the city of Kirkland, WA.
Home Healthcare News reports that the Washington State nursing home in question, Life Care Center, has seen the majority of its residents become stricken with the illness, while it has affected more than 60 employees. This has been the largest outbreak in a single area within the United States.
The rising concern about the safety of our elderly citizens has led the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) to release a list of guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Their recommendations are as follows:
1. Limit entry to only individuals who need entry. 2. Restrict activities and visitors with potential for exposure. 3. Restrict individuals who have respiratory symptoms or potential COVID-19 exposure out of an abundance of caution. 4. Require all staff entering the building to wash their hands upon entry and encourage all essential visitors do so as well. 5. Set up process to allow remote communication for residents and others.
Limiting and screening visitors as well as regular hand-washing seems to be particularly helpful in corralling this largely mysterious disease, but the Little Sisters of the Poor (LSotP), who are stringently following all of these instructions, have added their own, 6th guideline: Prayer. Sr. Constance of the LSotP told CNA:
“Our homes around the world are offering Masses and prayers for this protection, so that our elderly and collaborators at every level will be protected.”
There could be something to this prayerful practice, as the Little Sisters of the Poor have reported no case of COVID-19 in any of their facilities around the world, at the time this article was written.
The act of prayer is an exceedingly powerful tool, the benefits of which are impossible to quantify. Perhaps, when dealing with an infectious disease which seems so hard to contend with, it is most prudent to turn to an equally mysterious power for results. As the Little Sisters of the Poor have seen more success than their secular counterparts, perhaps this small variable is the key to defeating COVID-19.
That said, it is highly suggested that those who wish to visit elderly family members might choose to have a conversation through digital means, rather than in person. Regular hand-washing and avoidance of large crowds are crucial to containment at this point in time.