Balloon launch memorializes COVID-19 outbreak at Accordius Health at Creekside Care

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2021

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AHOSKIE – The Activity Department and Maintenance Department of Accordius Health at Creekside Care planned and set-up a balloon lift-off ceremony for the residents and staff here Aug. 17.

Held in the circle parking lot out front of the main building, the ceremony was in memory of those who had died with COVID as well as to honor survivors, frontline, and essential workers.

Balloons fill the blue sky over Accordius Health at Creekside Care on Aug. 17 where a ceremony was held to remember those who died from COVID-19 as well as those who worked to protect the residents and workers at the facility. Contributed Photo

The ceremony was an idea of Administrator Jennifer Thomas who came to Accordius Health at Creekside Care in November of 2020 – a time where the virus was taking its toll at the facility.

The idea of the ceremony was sparked from being in a meeting one morning last month and a therapist was reminiscing of activities performed with the residents in the past. The therapist became sad when reminiscing due to so many residents that were so active and participated in things, have now passed due to COVID.

“Jennifer knew right then we needed to have a ceremony to remember those who have passed, and for residents and staff to have much needed closure from the past year that has been so difficult on everyone at Creekside,” stated Carolyn Pierce, Activity Director.

The ceremony included a welcome by Thomas, remarks by Pat Taylor – LPN – MDS Coordinator, a poem – “Silent Tears” (author unknown) – read by Nicole Parker – Activity Assistant, music – “Rise Up” by Andra Day – and a closing prayer by Rev. Roy Faison.

“2020 was a very trying and emotion year for Creekside’s families, staff, caregivers and first responders,” Taylor said in her remarks. “This was a time that showed your true character and separated the weak from the strong. It was a time of many tears shed and broken hearts.”

Taylor noted that in March of 2020, all nursing homes were ordered to close their doors to families and visitors to attempt to protect them from COVID-19.

“Creekside was ecstatic and very proud of ourselves because we were very vigilant and had no cases of COVID in our facility,” Taylor said. “We were taking all the precautions per CDC guidelines and felt that we had dodged the bullet. Little did we know that we would be affected later in the year.

“We had our first confirmed case of COVID on Aug. 19, 2020 and catastrophe hit our facility,” she continued. “By Nov. 19, 2020 we had 86 residents in our facility to contract COVID. Out of the 86, 26 of our Creekside residents lost the battle to COVID. The youngest resident lost due to this devastating virus was only 47 years old, in the prime of his life.”

Taylor stressed that the Creekside staff worked “vigilantly, sometimes to the point of exhaustion trying to care for our residents only to leave to go home with heads hung down and heavy hearts. But time after time they would return to work to do it all over again.”

Accordius Health at Creekside Care Administrator Jennifer Thomas (left) listens as Pat Taylor delivers remarks at the Aug. 17 ceremony. Contributed Photo

“Yes, it was hard for the families to not be able to be with their loved one and hard for the staff to be the only one to sit at their bedside to comfort them during their last breath,” Taylor said. “Creekside also admitted others to our facility with COVID. Our total cases of COVID, including those admitted with the virus, was 157 residents and the total deaths related to COVID is 38. We also have report of victory! Out of the 157 cases, we had 56 residents to recover, return home, or another facility.

“Thank you to our heroes; the Nurses, CNA’s, Therapy Staff and first responders. Thank you to our unsung heroes, dietary who prepared food daily and housekeepers who kept the facility sanitized and clean. None of this would have been possible without every piece of the puzzle. You are all heroes, thank you,” Taylor closed.