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April 4, 2020

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A view from inside Maple Crest

Joan Niswander: How many weeks will this last? How many more changes will we need to make? None of us know"

By Joanne Niswander
Icon's Maple Crest correspondent

Let's face it - life for each one of us has drastically changed over the past month.

Whether we are a student no longer going to school, a laid-off worker, a nurse taking double shifts, a farmer dreaming of planting season, or a senior citizen watching it all from the window, we're all in this together. This new kind of living with a devastating new virus is affecting all our lives.

Since I am one of the Bluffton elders who happens to be in semi-seclusion at Maple Crest (and having plenty of time on my hands), you might like to know a little of how things are going here.

So come along with me as we walk through the happenings of the last couple of weeks.

Actually, two weeks ago life was going on pretty much as normal here in Bluffton. We had heard about this new virus, but reality had not sunk in as yet - it was somewhere else and someone else's problem.

In fact, on the day we switched to daylight savings time, March 8, my son and his wife were driving to Bluffton from North Carolina to visit me for a few days.

For the four days that they were here, we did the things that family usually does when they visit. We went out to eat, did some necessary shopping for me, updated my computer, enjoyed each other's company. Early Thursday morning they left for home.

Thursday afternoon, the 12th, was when things began to change at Maple Crest and our sister retirement facilities, Mennonite Home, Willow Ridge and Hilty Home.

Word came from the main office that our outside visitors would be limited to one per day and all visitors would need to come in the main door, sign in and have their temperature taken.

Already the following day, our visitors were limited to zero.  Each succeeding day brought new changes. Whether the new restrictions were set by Governor DeWine or by our own MHCO Board, we didn't quibble. We knew it was for our own good. We began paying more attention.

Our St. Patrick's Day party on the 17th was cancelled. Exercise classes, Bingo, other group activities were a thing of the past. Our swimming pool was closed. The beauty shop was closed. By Thursday the 18th all dining rooms were closed and, instead,  we were served our meals in our individual rooms.

By the weekend, our staff were wearing face masks. Will staff soon need to stay "in-house?" Not as yet, but preparations are being made, in case those orders come down from above.

In the midst of all this, our faithful staff has reported for duty and gathered (six feet apart, of course) for daily briefing meetings. They tend to their assigned duties in the same helpful attitude they have shown us every day before this time. They patiently answer our questions and calm those of us who can't quite cope. They are making the "new normal" work.

So here we go - into another week.

How many weeks will this last? How many more changes will we need to make? None of us know.

But, somehow, we'll make it through.

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