EAU CLAIRE, Wis.— Staff at St. Croix Hospice isn't letting the pandemic stand in the way of love.
Of course, when true love is on the line, there are no limits.
Bert Russell and his wife Pat married 58 years ago when they were just 20 years old.
"We will be 78 this coming June and July. We're 10 days apart in age," Bert says. "We had a good relationship. I always felt like I married up. It's been good, and that's why you can't walk away. You have to do what it takes to the end."
While true love conquers all, that doesn't mean life is always easy.
Recently, it's been especially hard.
Pat suffers from late-stage Alzheimer's disease. She's receiving care in hospice, and recently moved into a River Falls-based memory care unit.
Bert, who lives close by, visited her every day. That is, until the facility went on lockdown last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They had to place restrictions on visitors to the long-term care facility.
"Life's not fair. You have to handle things as it comes one day at a time or you don't handle it very well," he says. "I get emotional sometimes and it'll break down because I feel so bad for what Pat's having to go through."
And while he can't comfort her in-person, he's still finding a way to be there, without fail, as much as possible, thanks to his wife's care team.
"Since I can't get out there it makes all the difference in the world that hospice started offering to Facetime with me and Pat. I can talk to her and I can see her condition... That her hair is done, and she's getting good care," he says.
Part of that "good care" is the direct result of compassionate, dedicated nurses like Pauline Beman. She arranges and helps to facilitate the video chats.
"With COVID, it's hard. So anytime I can get the opportunity to connect families, I run with it," Beman says. "I'm honored to do it."