Face-to-face get-togethers — with a twist

Nora Mishanec/Columbia-Greene MediaMary Duntz speaks with her mother Beatrice Tkacy through the window at the FASNY Firemen’s Home in Hudson on Sunday.

HUDSON — Staff members at the FASNY Firemen’s Home in Hudson are working overtime to keep residents connected to their families as the facility begins testing for COVID-19.

The Firemen’s Home received enough testing kits from the Columbia County Department of Health to test all of its residents and personnel on Friday, Firemen’s Home Acting Administrator Sherri Mier said.

The Firemen’s Home had no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Friday, Mier confirmed.

As nursing homes and adult-care facilities around the region struggle to keep COVID-19 out, Sophia Kamenovsky, social services director for the Firemen’s Home, wanted to ensure the public that the 72 residents, known as members, could see family members without compromising their health.

Kamenovsky worked with the home’s maintenance crew to install a speaker phone system where members can speak to their loved ones through a glass window.

Members now frequently chat through the window with family members, who call the speaker phone from the safety of a bench Kamenovsky placed outside the window.

“Seeing each other is a wonderful thing,” she said. “It is helping a lot of members to see [family], even if they can’t hug them.”

Beatrice Tkacy, widow of Donald Tkacy, spoke face-to-face last weekend with her daughter Mary Duntz for the first time since the shutdown began.

The distance has been challenging as the family grieves Donald Tkacy’s recent death.

“I worry about her, because dad did pass away and we haven’t had any physical contact with her since his passing,” Duntz said.

Donald Tkacy, who was a 5th Ward Supervisor in Hudson, served as a member of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors and held many county offices including treasurer, clerk, coroner and commissioner of motor vehicles. He died March 18 in hospice care at the Firemen’s Home. He was 97. The Tkacys would have celebrated their 74th wedding anniversary in June.

Duntz said she sends her mother games and scratch-off cards to keep her occupied, but said the ban on visitors has been hard on Beatrice, who is used to socializing and participating in fish fries and chili bake-offs.

The staff has had to be creative to compensate for the loss of regular activities, said Kamenovsky, who has worked at the Firemen’s Home for 48 years. The facility broadcasts bingo on its in-house television station and members play along in their own rooms, she said.

Members can visit the courtyard garden or go outside if the weather allows. Kamenovsky once arranged for one member to play golf on the facility’s lawn.

“They are adapting the best they can,” she said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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