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The Cherryville Eagle

Caravan of family, friends, greeted Carolina Care residents last week

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Observing proper social distancing rules, a waving, smiling caravan of family and friends came by last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and cruised through Cherryville’s Carolina Care Health and Rehabilitation, smiling and waving at their loved ones who lined the main entranceway.
The residents and their care staff joy was evident, along with gleeful surprise at being able to get out after so long in due to the COVID-19 restrictions handed down by Gov. Roy Cooper to stem the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Marketing Director Amy Wright said their parade began Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 2:30 p.m., at the facility, located at 111 Harrilson Road. The other event days were Wednesday, May 6, and Thursday, May 7.
Wright noted the residents that were outside are the ones that had family members that previously called to RSVP CCH&R. Wright also noted that strict HIPAA rules concerning photography were followed so as to protect the residents.
Said Wright of the parade, “It was a huge success all three days and we greatly
appreciate everyone who contributed and made this possible!”
Carolina Care’s Administrator Martha Fitzgerald said the initial idea for the “Coke and Smile” parade came about thanks to Activity Director Sheree Jackson and Ms. Bobbi Ballard, both long-time employees at the care center.
As for how the days were designated, Ms. Fitzgerald said via email, “There were designated days to ensure everyone had time to prepare; RSVP; and (for the) staff to get residents ready. We couldn’t do the whole building as some people brought more than one car per resident. We didn’t want to tie up the whole street or (the) fire and police personnel’s day. The team here has EXCELLENT event planning and organization skills!”
Of the roughly 95 residents that currently live at Carolina Care, Fitzgerald said she estimated there were about 30 residents who were able to come outside for the “Coke/Smile” event on that Tuesday. It was about an equal number on the other two days as well. She also noted that a similar event was held at a few other Sanstone-owned care facilities as well.
Happiness was evident, noted Ms. Fitzgerald.
“One resident was singing to the music and said she knew all the old songs that Sheree was playing!” she added. She also noted they hope to, as things get more back to normal with the pandemic, to be able to do more events like this.
Said Fitzgerald, “We at Carolina Care recognize how important family is to our residents. And are grateful to everyone understanding the visitation restrictions during the COVID 19 quarantine. While it has been hard for families, and hard to run (this) business under these circumstances, our residents have expressed great appreciation. One resident stated during her recent care plan, ‘You are saving my life.’”
She continued, “Our elders have survived a lot in their lifetimes and I am always impressed with their resilience and understanding during times such as these.
“The staff at Carolina Care has also impressed me during this time. We have a nurse who leaves packages outside for extended times so they reduce the risk of transference of germs. Others have refrained from travel, cancelling vacations and staying away from their children and family; again to reduce and minimize their exposure.
“I think the fact that we have no confirmed cases in the facility, and no staff confirmed positive, speaks to our diligence with infection control. (Our) staff are serious, passionate and committed to protecting our residents.”
Fitzgerald said that to get the word out about the parade , and aid in keeping families informed, CCH&R used a “robo” call service to mass call and text.
“This has proven to be an excellent communication tool during this time. We also have promoted and conducted video/electronic visits during the quarantine. Using technology has proven essential to get the keep social connections between the residents and their families.”
Sheree Jackson, CCH&R Activity Director, said of the parade, “This was such a rewarding experience for me as Activity Director. The smiles and tears of joy said it all. We were so surprised on Thursday when a boat-load of family members arrived. What a wonderful way to show the love. 
“A special ‘thank you’ to the Cherryville Police Department and Fire Department for being there each day. Our local heroes are truly amazing!”
Danny Eaker, whose 98-year-old mother, Vera Eaker, is a resident at CCH&R, was one of 12 family members who came by on Thursday, May 7, to see her and to wave and shout words of encouragement to her. Danny and 10 family members rode in a bass boat pulled by Vera’s grandson Allen Eaker. Inside the truck with Allen was his mom, Judy, who, along with husband Danny, are well-known throughout Cherryville and among local sports enthusiasts as “The P.A. Man” and “The Music Lady” at Fraley Field during baseball season. In the boat with Danny was his sister, Pam Anthony, Heidi Cash, Angie Anthony and her two daughters, Allie and Alex; Noah Eaker, Katie Eaker, Sarah Eaker, and Tommy Stroupe.
Getting to see his mother and for her to see all of them was a great thing for Danny, who said, “This (parade) couldn’t have happened at a better time in her life! She will be 99 on Aug. 21! We are so grateful to Carolina Care and their staff for doing this for mom, the residents, for all the families, and for us too!”