Lisa Racine hasn’t been able to visit her dad in-person at the nursing home he lives at because of the coronavirus pandemic. So, she decided to get a part-time job there to see him more often.
Racine, 58, works fulltime as a project manager for a printing company. She said she can adjust her schedule on the days she works at the Good Samaritan Society - Stillwater facility, near Saint Paul, Minnesota. She began the second job on December 1.
Now, she works two or three nights a week helping with the supper shift, where she helps stock the cupboards and refrigerators, wash dishes, mop floors, serve food for the residents and clean up after everyone’s eaten.
The work is hard, she said – but it’s worth it because she gets to spend extra time with her 87-year-old father, Harold.
“I have a bit of a routine. I usually arrive a few minutes early and I go check on my dad and then when I’m done serving dinner, I check on him again,” Racine told CNN. “At the end of my shift, then I go in his room and I visit with him and it could be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, hour-and-a-half, depending on how he’s feeling.”
Before she started working at the nursing home, she said she hadn’t been able to visit her dad in-person since a window visit in November.
They were able to FaceTime, but Racine said her dad struggles with technology, so it’s a challenge.
Window visits weren’t really an option as the weather got colder, so she asked her cousin, Rene Racine, who’s an administrator at the nursing home, if they had any part-time jobs available.
“I thought it was a wonderful idea, you know, just a wonderful idea that she came up with,” Rene Racine told CNN. “Everybody really loves her. She’s a great person, has a great personality and a good work ethic.”
Racine said she came down with Covid-19 right after she applied, but she recovered and finished her quarantine by the time all the hiring paperwork went through.
Racine’s dad was surprised on her first day and almost didn’t recognize her under the layers of PPE that she had to wear.
“He just thought I was a nurse’s aide or something,” Racine said. “I said, ‘It’s me, Dad,’ and he’s like, ‘Lisa, what are you doing here? How did you get in? Who let you in?’ He thought I was gonna get in trouble or something.”
Racine was also able to get the Covid-19 vaccine since she was working so closely with residents. She got her first dose at the same time her father got his second one.
The nursing home is also now allowing some visitors – but she’s also helped her dad FaceTime with her siblings.
Racine said she is looking forward to all restrictions being lifted, so she can take her dad out for dinner, or to a family get together. The regular visits have been good for her dad.
“He definitely looks forward to it and it raises his spirits. I wish I could be there every day, but unfortunately, that’s not possible,” she said. “I feel like it’s giving him a little more zest for life.”
She said she plans to cut back on her hours once the restrictions are lifted – but wants to keep working at the nursing home and fill in when they are short staffed.