Color, flutter and smiles abound as Pratt Pilot Club members parade through Grand Plains halls

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Pratt Pilot Club International members (facing forward, from left) Diana Harris, Becky Holcomb and Jean Thomas, along with almost a dozen compatriots, prepare to put on a pre-Easter parade at Grand Plains Skilled Nursing Center last Wednesday in Pratt.

It was just a short, little walk through the halls and gathering areas of the Grand Plains Skilled Nursing Center that members of the Pratt Internation Pilot Club took last Wednesday. But the colorful Easter costumes that they wore, with fluttering butterfly wings, striking yellow and black bee bodies and of course, the cute little Hallmark bunny suit at the back of the parade,  brought more than smiles to the faces of observers. Residents smiled, staff members cheered and clapped, laughter filled the halls as they passed through, and Grand Plains Pratt administrator Beth Towns almost cried.

“It was a joyous occasion,” Towns said. “It made my heart flutter. Any time you can bring laughter and smiles, just that human element that has been missing, here in to our residents, they just appreciate it so much. It was wonderful.”

Just over one year ago, on March 13, 2020, Grand Plains, like all other Americare senior living centers and most care centers nationwide, shut their doors to visitors and suspended all group activities in order to best protect residents from the spreading coronavirus disease.

Clay Crosson, President and Chief Operating Officer of Americare Senior Living, said that Americare did everything it could to lessen the chance of the virus entering any community with a goal to protect residents and employees as much as possible.

On March 31, 2021, the last two Americare communities conducted their final COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and with county infection and exposure rates declining, the Pratt facility, as well as other communities, began opening their doors back up and stepping back on quarantine restrictions.

“At Grand Plains, we had the misfortune of opening a wonderful new community for our residents and opening doors for new residents just as the pandemic was in full swing,” said Towns. “At the same times, we have been fortunate that our very thorough infectious disease protocols were able to keep the COVID-19 virus away from our residents.”

As the March 31 pre-Easter parade demonstrated, the doors have reopened to the public at Grand Plains, and residents there are now able to host visitors and resume other activities with just a few precautions still in place such as mask wearing around guests and wellness checks.

An Easter bunny mimes candy-plans to Grand Plains Skilled Nursing Center residents during a small parade on March 31 in Pratt.

Towns said that the positivity of Pratt County, as determined by the Pratt County Health Department determines visitation probabilities and visitors are still required to schedule appointments ahead of time.

“We continue to test our employees every day, and every person who comes in the door must check in through the AccuShield system, but as long as positivity remains under 10 percent in Pratt County, we may receive visitors and guests,” Towns said.

The front door is locked and opened by confirmation only with staff member Robin Reh. A wellness check is then initiated with the AccuShield, which takes a temperature while presenting pertinent questions that must be answered before the visitor may proceed.

“We have hand cleaner readily available, still require masks to be worn, keep social distancing rules in mind and limit the number of people who can enter at one time,” said Towns. “But we are open and ready to receive guests and give tours.”

Towns said that no residents have tested positive for COVID-19 so far at Grand Plains. Most of the residents opted to receive vaccination shots.

“We are here for families and prospective residents,” Towns said. “And we are so thankful to the Pratt community for doing what they needed to do so that we have had this drop in positivity rates that allows us to open our doors. We are slowly returning to normal with some craft activities and small groups allowed.”

The Pratt Pilot Club was the first parade group allowed in to Grand Plains, located at 331 State Route 61, Pratt. The butterflies, bees, bugs and bunny also visited Parkwood Village and Pratt Health and Rehabilitation Center on March 31 in Pratt.