Residents of the Lexington Court Care Center celebrated Memorial Day early with a drive-thru parade Friday afternoon.

LEXINGTON — The 66 residents of Lexington Court Care Center celebrated Memorial Day a couple days early.

Residents of the skilled nursing facility were treated to a drive-through parade on a sun-splashed Friday afternoon.

A long line of vehicles, many decorated with signs and flying American flags, gathered in the Church of Christ parking lot adjacent to the facility just before 2 p.m.

The train of cars and trucks, along with their Ohio State Highway Patrol, Lexington Police and Troy Township Fire Department escorts, then looped through the empty Lexington Court Care Center parking lot as residents watched from a safe distance.

For most everyone involved in the parade, Friday was the first time they’ve seen family members for months. Skilled nursing facilities have been off-limits during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started out in March quarantining the residents to the building. They could only go out for doctor’s appointments and that is still the same today,” Lexington Court Care Center administrator Jacques Leverette said. “The families miss coming in to see their moms or dads or spouses so we thought we would bring the residents out to see them since they can’t come in the building.

“We just wanted the families to get a glimpse of their loved ones and the residents to get a glimpse of their families.”

Program director Brenda Workman agreed.

“We started planning a couple of weeks ago and, with the Memorial Day holiday, we thought it was a good reason to celebrate,” Workman said. “A lot of our residents haven’t seen their families since March. It’s been difficult, but they are actually doing pretty well. We play hallway bingo and if you pass around ice cream everyone is happy for a while.”

Across Ohio — and the nation — the coronavirus has been especially lethal to residents of skilled nursing facilities. Statistics provided earlier this week by the Ohio Department of Health revealed about 70 percent of the state’s known COVID-19 deaths are connected to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

“The guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Ohio Department of Health, we followed them closely and if that meant a change from yesterday, then we changed,” Leverette said. “We do not have any positive cases among residents or staff members. We are completely COVID-free.

“Adhering to all the guidelines means extra work but it sure is worth it. I feel bad for facilities that the virus has snuck into.”

As for Friday’s parade, Workman was thrilled with the turnout. About 25 vehicles participated.

“Even the weather cooperated,” Workman said. “The sun is actually out for the first time in a while. Mother Nature must love a parade.”

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