Elderly isolation is devastating for many

Staff Writer
Administrator at Pratt Rehabilitation and Residence Center Renee Johnson (front right) and aid Jessica Carlisle help resident Steve Eck wave to family and friends outside a window prior to COVID-19 restrictions.

Editor’s Note: Renee Johnson, Administrator at Pratt Rehabilitation and Residence Center, originally posted this letter on her Facebook page May 20, 2020, and gave permission for it to be published in The Pratt Tribune.

Dear Kansas Senators,

I've had enough. In many ways restricting visitation and socially isolating our residents "to protect them" is no better than when we tied them to beds and chairs "to protect” them.

Rather than making sure we have the equipment and funds we needed to keep them safe, we were told to lock our doors and take away their freedoms. That should do the trick.

Our elders are dying, but not just from Covid-19. They're dying from loneliness and hopelessness. It's been two months since they were able to hold their grandbabies and hug their children. It's been two months of crummy, socially distanced activities and not being allowed to eat with their friends. Two months since we collectively stole their rights and their joy.

Don't misunderstand me, I still 100% am doing my best to keep them safe and get the ramifications of Covid-19 entering my building. But we didn't even ask THEM what they want. CMS gave us orders and threats and we fell in line like good little soldiers, like we always do. But our country didn't work together to hash out a plan for keeping them safe. They gave us rules on how to do it with no assistance and warned us that they will take us down if, God forbid, one of our precious people gets it.

I'm tired of this industry. SO FREAKING TIRED. I love my people and this work is in my blood, but our leaders and our government on both sides of the aisle have never taken the time to learn about them, about the services we provide, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, how much we truly love them. So much that we're willing to lock them up because that's what we're told is the only way to "protect them.”

Renee Johnson, Pratt