BOONE — Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care at Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation Center held a memorial service on Nov. 5 to honor the lives of the facility’s residents who died of COVID-19 earlier this year.

Hit hard by the pandemic in recent months, Glenbridge, which is currently home to 58 individuals, lost 13 residents to the virus. According to Alyssa Rainbolt Bryant, Glenbridge’s director of nursing, the facility saw more than 40 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, causing a strict lockdown and limiting social interactions between residents and their families, many of whom were limited to window visitations.

“We’re a huge family here. With COVID in our facility residents weren’t able to come out, we were basically on lockdown,” said Bryant. “We had to really strengthen our infectious control procedures and residents were unable to celebrate with each other.”

“These residents are a family within themselves, so losing another resident is not only hard on our staff, it’s also hard on fellow residents,” said Bryant. “This is a moment where the residents can celebrate the lives of the other residents who unfortunately passed away due to COVID.”

Taking place on the grounds of Glenbridge, the memorial service featured a prayer led by Caldwell Care chaplain Billy Norris. As Norris read the names of the Glenbridge residents who died of COVID, a staff member poured layers of multi-colored sand into a bottle, each layer representing one of the 13 individuals claimed by the disease. The bottle will be on display inside Glenbridge, where residents will be able to view it as they reflect on their friends and neighbors lost during the pandemic.

Not strictly a somber affair, the event also served as a celebratory moment for staff and residents alike, who observed Glenbridge being officially free of COVID-19. Held on a clear fall day, the residents of Glenbridge enjoyed a moment of sunshine as members of Caldwell Hospice staff played music and led a parade around the grounds.

“We’ve all been through difficult times this year, no more so than this facility,” said Norris.

“It’s all about hope, giving people something to look forward to. Most of these folks are in their room day in and day out. It helps them to see other people and get them out of their normal routine.”

The music of Neil Diamond and the Beach Boys provided rhythm for the Caldwell staff’s procession, which offered up heavy doses of good cheer as it paid a visit to each Glenbridge resident’s window.

To learn more about the work Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, visit www.caldwellhospice.org. You can also visit https://glenbridge.org/ to learn more about Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation Center.

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