Wednesday 3 June, 2020

COVID-19: How a Jamaican nurse keeps healthy distance from elderly mom

Nadine Simpson

Nadine Simpson

By Lynford Simpson

The COVID-19 pandemic has largely changed the way people relate to and socialise with each other, even within their own families and in their own homes.

It is a necessary adjustment to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus from one family member, who could be exposed, to another.

One group of workers who must exercise great care in the way they interact with family members are healthcare professionals.

This is the case for Nadine Simpson, a Jamaican-born registered nurse who resides in Ava Maria, near Naples in Southwest Florida. She detailed, during a recent interview with Loop News, how she has been forced to change the way in which she interacts with her 80-year-old mother, Odelyn Binns, who has underlying health conditions, just to keep her safe.

“What I do is, once I drive into the garage, I close the door, get out of my scrubs and put them in a basket. I then proceed upstairs and tell her ‘hi’ from her room door.

“I only talk to her after I have showered in my own separate bathroom and, even so, I keep my distance from her,” Simpson explained.

“I talk to her through the open bedroom door so she can still see me face-to-face,” Simpson added.

Registered nurses Nadine Simpson (left), her sister Marilyn Simpson (right) and their mother Odelyn Binns enjoying a night out on the town before COVID-19 changed everything.

But it goes much further than that, a stark reminder of just how the novel coronavirus has upended life on the planet as we know it.

“When I’m downstairs, if she’s on the front porch, I stay inside the living room. If she’s in the kitchen I don’t go there until she’s finished and, if I’m outside in the yard trying to do a little gardening and she’s on the front porch, I talk to her with the screen door closed, I don’t go on the porch while she’s there,” Simpson told Loop News.

Although she turns 81 on May 11, Binns is still quite active, takes regular walks, plays board games with her elderly friends each week and would normally do hers, plus her daughter’s laundry.

Not anymore.

“I don’t let her do my laundry anymore, specifically, she can’t touch my scrubs. And we haven’t sat at the dining table together for several weeks. It’s my mother but if it’s what I have to do to keep her safe; I have to do it,” Simpson stated.

The registered nurse went further by giving up one of her jobs to limit her exposure to the virus.

“I can work that money back, but if I’m dead, I can’t work that money so it is what it is”.

Odelyn Binns and her two daughters pose for a camera.

Additionally, Ms Binns no longer takes walks to the park and she no longer meets twice a week with her elderly friends.

“She can’t go to the town centre to play indoor games either, can’t go to the water park in the neighbourhood; we can’t really do anything right now,” Simpson lamented.

Both mother and daughter pass the time sanitising the house on a regular basis by cleaning down surfaces, door knobs and kitchen counters.

Nadine’s sister, Marilyn, also a registered nurse in Florida, and her son, no longer visit the house in order to keep their distance from mother and grandma.

“We have to keep our distance from her. It’s about making sure she is safe,” Marilyn said.

Despite the unfolding chaos at many hospitals, Simpson has the good fortune of a few days off this week. In normal times, she would use the opportunity to take her mother out to dinner but that too is on hold.

“I feel really bad as I can’t take my mother anywhere, we can’t do anything (in public) right now. We are just stuck in the house,” said Simpson.

For her part, Ms Binns keeps herself active by walking up and down the stairs inside the house, does a little gardening and plays a lot of crossword puzzles.

In the meantime, she has not been inside a supermarket for more than a month.

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