Frank Bartholow vists his wife Gilma from a window at the front of Oak Grove Manor.

MANSFIELD -- Frank Bartholow used to visit his wife of 67 years, Gilma, every day at Oak Grove Manor.

But when the governor closed nursing homes to outside guests in an effort to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 infecting residents, Bartholow knew he had to think outside the box to continue to see his wife.

Every other day, the longtime Mansfield Senior swim coach sits in a chair outside a window at the front of the nursing home and speaks to her.

Gilma has been at Oak Grove for about a year, after breaking her leg, Barthmolow said.

"She has dementia," he said of his wife. "She still remembers me, but not the kids anymore. She doesn't know really what is going on, about the virus, which is just as well.

"If I were sound-of-mind, stuck in there, I'd be going even more crazy than I am living alone."

Bartholow, an Ohio University graduate, coached the Tygers' swimmers for 56 years. He retired in 2013 after earning 754 wins. He coached approximately 20 All-American swimmers. The swimming facility at Malabar Middle School is named the Frank Bartholow Natatorium.

Others who previously visited at the nursing home are meeting loved ones with online chats and on the phone said Jim Carder, the hospital and community liaison. 

He added that activities at the nursing home had been at an all-time high.

"The activities have stepped up with creativity. We're playing hallway bingo, using an intercom to call the numbers," Carder said. "We also have had pastoral care, especially with Easter. I'm also doing daily room visiting and pastoral care to keep them encouraged."

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