Working amidst a pandemic

Lucy McCowen shares her experience as an essential worker during COVID-19


Helena Erdahl

Tanner Springs Assisted Living makes changes to protect residents, through mask wearing and other precautions.

Recently, students have gotten the vaccine and for a variety of reasons. Some of these include health reasons, and, in some cases, being an essential worker. Lucy McCowen, senior, is an aide at Tanner Springs Assisted Living Home. This job gave her the opportunity to get the vaccine, because of her interaction and work with senior citizens. At this home, she is a dietary aide, helping serve seniors their meals.

“I basically do everything like at a restaurant, but part of your job is just checking on the residents and kind of being their friend, and I love it,” McCowen said. 

Through working at this home, McCowen has received both shots of the vaccine. The only obstacle was having to drive to multiple locations, only to be turned away and having to make an appointment instead.

“It was difficult because my nursing home only had the Moderna and the Moderna is for 18 years and older. And so they didn’t supply us with Pfizer,” McCowen said. She didn’t experience any pain from the actual shot and didn’t experience any symptoms from the vaccine. 

At McCowen’s job, COVID-19 has drastically changed the procedures and daily lives of the residents and staff. This home, in particular, had to change all of their glass silverware to plastic and paper utensils and dishes to reduce contamination,

“Everything got thrown away, which is kind of upsetting because I hate wasting stuff and that’s just the use of three meals a day, and using all that plastic is just a lot on the planet,” McCowen said. 

  The seniors who are living in this home have also had their lives greatly affected by the number of people they are allowed to see. Because of COVID-19, residents aren’t allowed to see family and friends as often, leading to more loneliness and less support from loved ones. Visitation restrictions are being lifted slightly, but McCowen states many of these changes are also hard on the caregivers at the home because more they are given more responsibilities since the residents’ families can visit less. 

“Visits with their families was one of the big changes,” McCowen said. “They used to be able to come inside and help feed them and take care of them. But now our caregivers have a lot more on their shoulders.” 

With COVID-19, McCowen has experienced hard times with her patients. Although the staff loves and cares for them, the seniors occasionally become irritable, because some forget why they cannot see their family or feel frustrated with the changes of life in the age of COVID-19. 

“I think it has an effect on them and how they act because when they’re around their family, they’re a lot calmer and there’s a lot less frustration and anger. [With fewer family visits] it’s been really hard to see,” McCowen said. 

As an essential worker during the pandemic, McCowen has also experienced an abundance of stress as a caregiver for people who are also going through challenging times. 

“I think it emotionally drains you a lot of times, and for at least me like it’s a lot, helping a lot of other people and stuff, and I don’t regret it for the world. But you do have to take time for yourself and just pause and take a moment,” McCowen said. 

Amidst COVID-19, everyone has faced struggles with how to adjust, and how to help others during this time. Tanner Springs Assisted Living Home has been no exception, as they continue to try to keep their residents safe while meeting everyones’ needs.

“I think it’s we just want what’s best for the residents,” McCowen said. “because after you work there you just fall in love with them and you love them so much and want to make sure they’re getting good care.”

Healthy optimism