Grand Prairie

Long-Term Care Operators Express How Pandemic Has Impacted Them

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A locally-owned and operated long-term care facility has experienced what many businesses have felt in the past five months of the pandemic, the strain on the way they operate.

Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have felt the impact of COVID-19 as they've navigated not only caring for their residents but also managing the changing guidelines from local and state health officials.

“It’s been really frustrating I think in general in the assisted-living industry," said Pam Mayberry, owner of Mayberry Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care Homes.

She and her husband, Scott, started their long-term care facility in Garland in 1999. Since then they've expanded locations to Denton and Grand Prairie. The newly opened location in Grand Prairie opened up a month before the pandemic hit.

“It’s been difficult, every aspect of our business has been turned upon its head due to COVID from getting supplies, grocery shopping, marketing, moving residents in, residents moving out because of the pandemic, finding resources, every aspect has been much much harder," said Adrian Hewitt, a co-owner of the Mayberry Gardens locations in Denton and Grand Prairie, he's also Mayberry's son-in-law.

The family said they've had to rely on donations from church friends, family and the community when there was a shortage of personal protective equipment, toilet paper and other items needed to operate under guidelines.

Mayberry said they have been frustrated over the last several months with the way local and state officials have communicated information to long-term care facilities. They said they wished they would have received a heads up about information before learning about changes during news conferences on TV.

"They basically said we’re locking the doors on the facilities, we basically heard it on the news the same time our residents and families heard and we got immediate phone calls," said Mayberry as she reflected on the past several months.

She said most recently, they found out about the state allowing limited visitations for long-term care facilities at the same time as their residents and families.

"We were so thrilled, so excited, we’ve watched the mental health of our residents decline and we were so excited and happy to have that happen," said Mayberry.

She said there was some red tape they had to go through in order just to allow socially distance front porch visits, including getting permission from the state, but they made it happen.

The family said they've seen an impact since the pandemic started and believe people are fearful to move in because of COVID-19. The also attribute people delaying tours and moving in because, at the beginning of the pandemic, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said people should take their loved ones out of long-term care facilities if they could.

"I think it would be really important for public officials to weigh the impact of what they say and their press conferences, what they say has a huge impact on our business, our families and our residents, and so making comments to move families out announcing plans to open up but also not announcing the process of which they can open up, it’s really difficult to work through. They’re in a position of power and authority and what they say matters and having it said the right way is very important."

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