CARLYLE - The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been hard on the health-care system and a local volunteer organization is no exception.
The Friends of Moose Mountain Lodge (FMML) in Carlyle have finally restarted their meetings, which are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month.
This organization was formed several years ago, and the Observer talked to three of its original members, Myrla Holland, Christy Jarvis and Marsha McLean.
Said Holland: “Friends of Moose Mountain Lodge could be more accurately named as Friends of Residents of Moose Mountain Lodge. It was established because of the vision and determination of Bertha Isleifson who was caring for the people at the long-term care home.
“She saw a need and started talking with others about how to deal with it. Several people thought she had a good idea and agreed to meet to discuss the possibilities. The need as we saw it was that the medical system, which was looking after people’s needs, could not be expected to organize and pay for all niceties that would make the resident’s lives more enjoyable.
“A decision was made to remain a somewhat casual group with membership open to anyone interested in helping. It was also important to make plans that did not put added stress on the staff although their input and ideas would be gratefully accepted. Fundraising would be whatever ideas people were willing to follow through with and direct donations could be accepted through the town office.”
Said Jarvis: “Bertha was instrumental in talking to people to start the conversation about doing something for residents to make their lives more fulfilling while in the nursing home. We also improved the palliative care rooms and did major redecorating to the dining room.”
One of the first and most refreshing things they did was redecorate the main common area which was spearheaded by Danielle Benjamin and Marsha McLean.
Added McLean, “We wanted to make the entrance, dining area and first seen hallways feel more like a home rather than an institution. We had the walls painted a neutral colour to be a nice background for all the new artwork we purchased. We wanted life in the décor, so we purchased greenery and florals and made some arrangements throughout the area.
“Our mission started with refurbishing the fireplace by having it painted and getting it to work, getting a new insert will be our next focus. The residents were quite excited to see the changes as they were happening. Now that the restrictions have lessened, Danielle and I can work towards putting things back in place that had to be moved because of COVID.
“Our decorating project was financially supported by members of the community, the Lions Club, the Moose Mountain Lodge Foundation and FMML.”
The Friends of Moose Mountain Lodge continues to be active, with friends and relatives of Carlyle’s long-term care home residents meeting together and adding some pleasure to their loved one’s lives.
They help with numerous extra-curricular activities such as treating residents to the occasional chicken dinner and ice cream sundae. They help with Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day and Halloween decorations and celebrations. The volunteers also purchase flowers and together with the recreation staff tend to a flower garden. They help with special occasions such as birthday parties and book live and local entertainment.
Presently, the Moose Mountain Lodge has 40 permanent long-term care beds and two respite or convalescence beds. All newcomers are welcomed with a flower arrangement courtesy of Friends of Moose Mountain Lodge. Income is earned from memorial donations with the Manor United Church providing the FMML a generous one-time donation in the spring of 2021. Funds from this source were used to purchase a much needed but very expensive bariatric bed. This is a special bed that is appreciated by plus-sized patients.
In 2021, Reg and Marilyn Newell moved back to Carlyle and recently Marilyn became a new resident of the lodge. As a donation, this former lodge activity director brought her own organ with her and plays beautiful music often and to the delight of everyone.
Bertha Isleifson is the current president of FMML. “During the past two years, the lodge has had its share of medical issues, but we are finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Regular monthly music and entertainment will be starting soon, and we are all looking forward to 2022. Our motto is “Enhancing the everyday lives of the residents.”
The Friends of Moose Mountain Lodge would also like to thank the staff for their efforts during the past two years of working through the pandemic. The patience, kindness and caring shown has been incredible and greatly appreciated.
Their next meeting is scheduled for April 26 at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome.