Facility director credits God and the team’s strict measures for their positive results.
Published on: 07-01-2020
Among hundreds of people sick and dead, a high-risk retirement home managed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Italy has stayed COVID-19-free during the pandemic. Casa Mia, a facility that is home to nearly 90 seniors in Forlì, in Emilia-Romagna, effectively walled off the novel coronavirus and protected residents, staff, and volunteers, acknowledged its director, Fabian Nikolaus.
“So far we have had zero suspected cases and zero positive cases of COVID-19,” Nikolaus wrote in a letter sent to the residents’ families. “This includes not only our senior residents but our staff. We thank God first, but also the high sense of responsibility every Casa Mia stakeholder has shown.”
AN EARLY START
In early February 2020, COVID-19 was still a problem in faraway China and didn’t seem a big issue for Italy. According to major media outlets, the first case was recorded in Italy only on February 21. A week earlier, however, Nikolaus had decided to put Casa Mia on lockdown.
“We were pressured by the local government not to do it,” Nikolaus recalled. “They questioned the measure, telling us we were not authorized to go into lockdown.” By the time the local government changed its course and decided to go into lockdown on March 4, it was too late—the virus was already inside most retirement homes.
“I can only say that God inspired us to do what we did,” Nikolaus acknowledged. “As we stayed safe inside, we could sense outside the situation was chaotic. You could hear the ambulance sirens going off nonstop.”
Casa Mia soon became an exception across the city (population 120,000), which boasts 15 senior homes with about 1,200 beds. As the virus got inside fragile-care facilities it had a devastating effect, according to local news outlets. Many could not be saved, but seniors and staff at the Adventist-managed facility stayed safe.
“The hygiene, disinfection, and even confinement measures that the staff of Casa Mia applied to minimize the chances that the virus can reach the people are stringent,” Nikolaus said. “Some of these measures can be inconvenient for interpersonal relationships between patients and family members. But even though at first some thought those measures too exaggerated, we had the well-being of our seniors as our priority.”
ADVENTISTS SUPPORT THE COMMUNITY
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Italy has not stayed idle during the pandemic. In early April, through its social work network, the church managed to purchase 5,000 N95 masks from Hong Kong. Masks were distributed primarily to health-care workers across the city.
“We understood right away that it was essential to support and protect our health practitioners,” said Adventist Social Work coordinator Giuseppe Cupertino.
Marco Ragazzini, secretary of the Italian General Practitioners Federation in the province, accepted the protective equipment on behalf of his colleagues. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
Back in Forlì, Nikolaus said his team will keep doing the best they can to stay safe as they wait for better days.
“We are confident that God will continue to protect us and enlighten us in making wise, timely, and correct decisions,” he said.