Altus nursing homes gifted Facebook portals to help residents meet face-to-face with loved ones

Altus nursing homes gifted Facebook portals to help residents meet face-to-face with loved ones

ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - Altus nursing home residents have some new technology that makes it easier for them to have face-to-face conversations with their loved ones.

The Great Plains Literacy Council in Altus recently purchased several portals, which are essentially tablets that allow the users to Facetime. They did that because they noticed a need in local nursing homes and assisted living centers, which are still closed to visitors.

“With COVID - 19, we have a vulnerable population and they may be isolated, they may be confined and they don’t get to visit with their families,” said Katherine Hale, Executive Director of the Southern Prairie Library System.

“Finding that there were so many nurses and people using their personal phones for family to get in touch with people in the ICU or the nursing homes. We thought it would be a good idea to provide them, free of cost, some kind of communications,” said Ruth Ortega, Administrative Assistant for the Great Plains Literacy Council.

So far, the portals have been a hit with the residents.

“We’ve had a few residents that have come down and talked to their families. We had one gentleman who hadn’t been able to meet his great grandbaby, so he finally got to meet her on the portal,” said Maggie Lewis, Clinical Coordinator for Tamarack Assisted Living.

Lewis says moments like that are game-changers for the residents.

“It helps greatly, their mental status is what impacts their physical status so for them to be able to talk to their family and be happy and then go throughout their day, they eat better. Their whole influence just changes,” Lewis said.

So far, the portals are in two nursing homes and assisted living centers in Altus, but Great Plains Literacy hopes that will soon expand.

“We still want to incorporate this into the hospital, the ICU for them to be able to use it also, and hopefully more nursing homes,” Ortega said.

The group is also using the portals to make other services they offer easier. For example, they also have a tutoring service that can now resume while the tutors safely socially distance.

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