Senior communities using new tools to track COVID-19, keep residents from feeling isolated

Thousands have died in care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. One home hopes monitoring patient data can help detect COVID-19 early. Another offers creative ways for residents to see families.
4:28 | 07/09/20

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Transcript for Senior communities using new tools to track COVID-19, keep residents from feeling isolated
This is the first time Mary has been able to reunite with her family in two months. Hi, baby. Do I get to touch you? Yes. You're healthy. Like some residents of senior living communities, Mary and her husband were separated and placed in quarantine to keep them safe from covid-19. Oh! But the measures meant to save their lives have been overwhelmingly isolating, keeping them away from their loved ones like their daughter Katie Nelson. Can you imagine living in a room that's maybe 200 square feet for two months? You can't come out! When you talk to them, you can hear like there was going to be a breaking point really, really soon. She was able to reunite with her husband and daughter because her facility came up with a simple but effective barrier to allow families to reconnect. How are you doing? You're looking good. I like the smile. You got a kiss for me? I love you. The rest of the world is opening up. I want to see my people so and I know that the families do, too. But I would still rather wait. That will still be there to make sure that these people are safe. I mean, that's hard. Communities for seniors have suffered some of the highest fatality rates in the nation. As the pandemic stretches on with no end in sight, they've had to turn to creative solutions to not only address residents' isolation and loneliness, but also keep them safe. One nursing home facility in Maryland believes it may have a way to better protect residents. When I first heard of covid-19, I actually was home on a weekend. I got on the phone with the director of nurses. My gut feeling was, what was going on in China was just the tip of the iceberg. Jennifer Kelly directs the nursing services at layhill center. It did not quite escape the throes of the virus. One of our health care providers had come down with the covid-19. We quarantined that floor immediately. But the numbers have been comparatively small. With 123 residents, layhill has had 18 positive cases. Seven succumbed, while most have fully recovered. A small comfort, considering that some of the hardest-hit nursing homes have had deaths in the double digits. Layhill, they've been using our data since day one. They've had a low number of cases and they have been on top of it. Shalone rhineman is part of mega data and partnered up to track data of their residents' vitals. What we found was that the oxygen level was in most cases was a better indicator than temperatures and symptoms, which seemed to be later-developing symptoms. And the facility says that data has been vital in saving lives. I thought I was a goner for sure. Venus is one of the residents, Mcandrews has an underlying condition and this alert system helped notice the covid-19 infection early. If they hadn't caught it when they did and got me the help that they did, I probably would have died, and that's the truth. They really saved my life by finding out so quick and sending me to the hospital. Just being able to see the subtle changes and the data that was being entered into the medical records and the doctors and the nurses were able to move rather quicker. For all nursing homes, the fight against covid-19 had is far from over. But with new tools coming into play, the facilities may be better equipped for the long battle ahead. It's fantastic that we now have protocols that we know we can depend on and we know what that's going to look like, so I think the scariest part that is going to have to be a trust on the facility side and a trust on the family side. Nobody else in the world is having this experience right now other than all of us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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