After 11 deaths at residence, Little Sisters report signs of improvement

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The Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark, Del., is pictured March 31, 2020. (CNS/courtesy The Dialog)

WILMINGTON, Del — As the nation and much of the world wait for a drop in the harm and disruption caused by the novel coronavirus, the sisters, staff and residents of Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark, Delaware, are dealing with the devastating impact of the disease while also helping some residents recover.

Sr. Constance Veit, communications director for Little Sisters of the Poor, has been on scene at the residence since the outbreak at the end of March. The religious community operates the residence.

She was disappointed to report over the April 11-12 weekend that 11 residents had died since the outset of the pandemic, all of whom also suffered from underlying illnesses, but she said officials at the residence are happy to report signs of improvement.

"We have had 11 resident deaths related to COVID-19, but none for more than two days now, so we feel we may have turned a corner," Veit wrote in an email on Easter. "I was going around to wish the residents happy Easter and found a few of them who have been sick looking quite good."

Veit said the residence continues to receive many donations of all kinds from people in the community.

"And for these we are so very grateful. I think we are OK for everything right now. Christiana hospital has been truly wonderful to us. We want to thank everyone in the local community for being so good to us and our residents," she said April 12.

"Today, on Easter Sunday, as I reflect on the loss of ... residents, I realize that faith in the resurrection of Jesus is the only thing that can make sense out of this situation," she continued. "Because of the resurrection we know that Jesus is still alive and walking at our side. Through our faith in the resurrection we believe that those who have died are in an unimaginably better place, no matter how good our earthly life has been.

"That is not to diminish the grief of those who have lost loved ones to this virus, but hopefully our faith in heaven is a consolation for those who have lost loved ones," Veit wrote.

More than 60 people live at the nonprofit continuing-care retirement community run by the Little Sisters, including 40 residents in nursing units.

The first resident died March 29.