HALIFAX -- There are more than 2,500 seniors in long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia, and their loved ones can’t help but be worried about them as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

After the World Health Organization officially declared the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus a pandemic, hospitals and nursing homes in Nova Scotia announced visitors would no longer be allowed.

That means many Maritimers with loved ones in long-term care can only connect with their family members over the phone, or through apps like FaceTime or Skype.

For Mary Mallon, the onset of COVID-19 meant it was already extremely difficult to be away from her 89-year-old mother, who is in long-term care in Antigonish, N.S.

“I talk to her every day,” says Mallon. “Like everyone else, she’s just trying to follow the health directions, where she’s washing hands more and being very careful.”

On Saturday, Mallon received the news that the facility where her mother has been living for almost a year – the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home – was one of three homes in the province where an employee had tested positive for the virus.

“When I got the news I just felt smothered. It was so close to home,” says Mallon.

“I’ve just been sick and worried and scared.”

Mallon says her mother is still very independent and can do her own personal care. Mallon was relieved to learn her mother didn’t have contact with the affected worker, who is now in isolation.

She says the home is now testing all staff at the facility. Workers are also taking the temperature of residents twice a day and monitoring them for any possible symptoms.

Mallon plans to drive from Halifax to Antigonish to see her mother this weekend, even if it is just through the window to her room.

“[We’ll] hang out outside the window with signs and talk on the phone,” she says. “I just want to see her.”

Two other long-term care facilities in the province also had employees test positive for COVID-19.

At The Magnolia in Enfield, N.S., there are four positive cases -- two employees and two residents.

A spokesperson with the facility, Tracey Tulloch, says the residents who tested positive are experiencing mild symptoms but are “doing well.”

An employee who worked at Lewis Hall in Parkland at the Lakes, a private retirement community in Dartmouth, N.S., also tested positive for the virus. A representative with Shannex Nova Scotia, which operates the facility, says residents who had contact with that worker have since tested negative for the virus.

Jane MacBeth has been calling her 95-year-old father, Medley MacBeth, almost every night to keep in touch during the pandemic. He’s a resident at the Veterans’ Unit at the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg, N.S.

She says staff at the unit are doing a great job of making sure her father gets some time outside, but she still misses him.

MacBeth says that’s why it’s so important for everyone to follow the advice of public health.

“Stay home,” she says. “Let this be over so we can go back to spending time with our loved ones.”


The name of the hospital where Medley MacBeth is a resident was corrected.