Ninety-five-year-old Castor resident no stranger to medically necessary isolation

‘The days have not been long for me; still, I’m anxious to get outside.’

By Kevin J. Sabo For the Independent

Ninety-five-year-old Castor resident Luella Kowalsky is no stranger to isolation, having been medically isolated three times in her life.

The first time, she was a child stricken by Diptheria, a bacterial infection that used to be very common in children before the development of a vaccine.

She spent “weeks in a small white house” that had been designated as an isolation hospital in Medicine Hat.

“I don’t know how many weeks I spent there,” said Kowalsky.

“The nurse, I don’t know if she slept and ate there too, because I don’t remember any other nurse.”

A few years later, as a teenager, Kowalsky was isolated again, this time as a matter of prevention during the polio epidemic.

“I was upstairs in a gable room, and I was not to come out,” said Kowalsky, who said that her mom brought her everything that she needed.

Everything that needed to be taken from the room was carried outside of the house via a long ladder and disinfected before being brought back inside.

Kowalksy was not herself sick, but her brother was, and her mom did everything she could to keep the young girl from getting sick.

“She knew that I caught things very easily, and she did not want me to get (polio),” said Kowalsky.

During her time in Castor’s Paintearth Lodge, the facility has been locked down twice, though once had nothing to do with health.

A fugitive from Red Deer attempting to evade the police made their way to Castor, and the facility was locked down for a few hours until that situation was resolved.

Most recently, the Paintearth Lodge has been locked down since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, as far as isolation goes, the latest round has been the best, thanks to the efforts of the staff.

“Brenda (Kneller), our recreation director, always has something planned,” said Kowalsky.

The staff at the lodge host bingo, using photocopied cards and bingo dabbers, three times a week, exercises every morning, and a mystery word or crossword on the dry erase board in the dining area.

There’s also been a kitchen band, which uses pots and pans as musical instruments, with lodge resident Jim Culham carrying a tune using the piano.

For Kowalsky, she keeps herself busy phoning friends and family, and playing on Facebook to pass the time.

“The days have not been long for me; still, I’m anxious to get outside.”

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