Our Story: A Poem From the Heart

By Sandy Longenecker, PCHA, LPN, Director of Personal Care, Fairmount Homes
July 1, 2021

I see you. You are reading the sign on the door that says "No Visitors effective March 13, 2020."

I see you. You are putting on a gown, goggles and an N95 mask and thinking how foreign it feels to be wearing all of these things.

I see you. A resident is looking at you and thinking how strange it feels to see you dressed in PPE.

I see you. Your eyes are barely visible to me above the N95 mask and the goggles that you wear but I can see the concern in your eyes. You are wondering if you will get COVID-19 and then pass it along to your family.

I see you. You have questions and you are trying to keep up with the changes and information that is coming so quickly.

I see you. You are standing at the front door in front of a machine that will take your temperature and screen you for symptoms. 

I see you. Your hand is wrapped tightly around a no-touch thermometer. You will use this thermometer for 15 months as you care for residents and you check their temperatures and do symptom checks twice a day.

I see you. You are looking for a new bottle of hand sanitizer. The supply is low and it is on back order.

I see you. You are helping a resident put on a cloth mask for the first time.

I see you. You are smiling and connecting with a resident as you try desperately to forget, just for a moment, that you are living through a pandemic.

I see you. You are concerned about the decline that you are beginning to see and how the residents are having more difficulty with transfers and with walking.

I see you. Your head is tilted to the ceiling. You never noticed that the ceiling in the chapel was so high and then you feel the presence of the long Q-tip that goes first in your right nostril and then in your left nostril. It feels intrusive and you worry that the nurse will go back too far. You are relieved that the COVID-19 test is quick and it didn't hurt after all. You can still feel a tickle in your nose hours later. You will feel this same sensation another 18 times. When the tests start, you feel concerned the night before and then for 5 days after as you wait for the results. There will be relief each time when the result is negative. Or was it positive?

I see you. You are walking briskly down the hall to deliver meals to residents. You are tired but smile when you are greeted by a resident that is so thankful for the meal and appreciates that you have brought the ketchup for her eggs and sugar packets for her coffee. 

I see you. You are picking up the meal trays and you are stacking them on a cart in the hallway. There is concern in the resident's eyes as he worries about you and all of the extra work that the pandemic has brought to your day.

I see you. You are watching a resident visit with their family. There is plexi-glass between them as they follow guidelines to protect all residents and team members. They are laughing.

I see you. The door to the neighborhood is closed and there is a sign that says Yellow Zone. Your hand slowly presses the pump on the hand sanitizer and you put on your PPE. 

I see you. You are reading the list of open shifts. There are team members that have tested positive and are quarantining at home for 10 days. You add your name to pick up some shifts as you think about how much the residents need to be cared for by someone who knows them well.

I see you. You are reading information about the new vaccine and you are making a decision.

I see you. There is concern in your eyes as you think about the impact of isolation for the residents. You are walking to a doorway and you knock. You are spending time with a resident.

I see you. You are coming to the chapel on a Saturday. You are standing 6 feet apart from your co-worker and then it is your turn. Someone takes your temperature. The COVID-19 vaccine is administered in your right arm. You are feeling hope for the future.

I see you. There is a Green Zone sign on the door again. You feel freedom as you put your surgical mask on. It is funny to think that "getting" to wear a surgical mask now feels like a vacation after needing to wear N95s at work for the last 2 weeks.

I see you. You are making an ice cream sundae to celebrate Lancaster County going "Green."

I see you. You are smiling as you watch the residents and they are able to visit with their family in the resident's room. 

I see you. You are telling a resident that they are able to sit with another resident in the dining room instead of sitting alone at a table.

I see you. You are walking towards the door with a resident as they go with their family for a visit for the afternoon.

I see you. You are turning the microphone on and handing it to the minister for the first time in 14 months. The minister has come to share God's word in person.

I see you. You are taking a walk. You close your eyes for a moment and you can feel the warmth of the sun on your face. It is a face that has been covered by a mask for many hours over the last 15 months. You are grateful. I see you. You are strong!

I see you. You are resilient!

I see you. You are amazing!

I see you...and you have a story to tell.