Dozens Rally in Support of Health Care Workers at St. Therese of New Hope
Friday afternoon, dozens of people lined up in the parking lot at St. Therese of New Hope to express their appreciation toward the staff members who provide care for the residents of the senior living home.
The rally comes at the end of what has been a tough week for St. Therese, the site of one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks at a single place in Minnesota.
“It’s been hectic, but we’re all trying to cope with it,” said Shirleen Jordan, a staff member at St. Therese, when asked what work has been like since the start of the outbreak. “It’s very hard because we are dealing with vulnerable adults that have poor health. And once this started, it’s just taken them really quick, and it’s sad to see.”
Reports this week said that at least 12 residents of St. Therese have died since the start of the outbreak. The Star Tribune indicated that the people who died were between 82 and 96 years old.
“I’ve been working with them for so long and it’s so hard for me to sit there and watch them just deteriorate like that with no family around or anything.” Jordan said. “So it’s hard.”
Jordan was one of the dozens who gathered in the St. Therese parking lot at 2 p.m. on Friday during a shift change at the long-term care facility. The group included other professional caregivers and members of the New Hope community. They held up signs with messages such as “We Appreciate You!!” and “I Support Saint Therese.”
“I think the turnout is amazing,” Jordan said. “I didn’t expect it.”
On the St. Therese website, the nonprofit that oversees the facility admitted to challenges, despite ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Especially in close quarters where nearly all residents live in double rooms, some residents and employees tested positive for coronavirus. Some got sick and recovered, and others, sadly, did not,” said Jordan.
Jordan also addressed the concern about whether the facility had the proper safeguards in place to protect residents.
“Once we heard about the COVID, our facility started putting things in place,” Jordan said. “We were getting things in place as it was coming out, and to get everything that we need for PPE, they started really quick. So the negative, it’s not true.”
Officials from St. Therese say that they have worked closely with the Minnesota Department of Health since the pandemic began. The MDH has assigned an infection control specialist to consult with St. Therese regularly on adherence to MDH guidelines as well as those of the CDC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to protect residents and employees from COVID-19.
Jordan says she’s hopeful about the future.
“I’m optimistic, putting it all up there to God,” she said. “Hoping everybody comes out in good health, still healthy, and coworkers still can stay healthy, and our facility can get back to its norm. Some type of norm.”