“Stay safe, stay home,” one sign read.

Another, “I’ll see you soon.” And a few more: “I love you and miss you.”

Patients from Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center on Kalamazoo Avenue SE and Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center on Fuller Avenue wanted to share their messages with the community and their families.

“It has been really hard for a lot of our residents and patients to be unable to see and be near their family members at this time,” said Spectrum Health recreational therapist Kaitlyn Adams. “For a lot of them, having family nearby is a huge part of their psychosocial well-being.”

Recreational therapists from Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center on Kalamazoo Avenue came up with the idea to take pictures of their patients holding messages to their families on dry erase boards. They then sent them to their families so they could let them know they are thinking of them.

“That was so cool,” Kelly Thompson-Nordequist told her recreational therapist, Elizabeth Haarsma. “I’m glad you asked me—I hope my family sees it.”

For patients who rely on routine and socialization, the COVID-19 restrictions have limited activities for patients and group programming, Adams said. “This is very important to them as it provides a routine, socialization and camaraderie.”

As confirmed cases grow in Michigan, the importance of staying home means the difference between life and death for many.

“It is vital to the health of our residents, patients and staff to have the community stay home,” Adams said. “Staying home during this time will save lives.”

Haarsma has been telling her patients, “right now it is the most loving thing for your family to stay away” and “they love you so much that they’re keeping you safe.”

“I think it meant so much for residents and patients to have the ability to send a message to their community and family in a unique way,” Adams said.

“This gives them an impactful voice.”

The messages provided a way for many patients to let their families know they are OK and thinking of them.

Many of the patients’ messages echoed the same sentiment: “I miss you and love you.”