Health First staff challenged several Riverside Care and Rehabilitation residents in a few rounds of socially distanced tic-tac-toe last Thursday in an effort to continue engaging with the community in a safe way during unprecedented times.

Several staff members from the Health First clinic in Calhoun sat outside of the glass doors of the Riverside facility to play tic-tac-toe through the door with window markers while residents played safely from inside. While there was definitely some friendly competition, it was all in good fun — a chance for everyone to interact with and engage each other.

“In the times that we live in, this is kind of our new normal and so you still get that interaction and meeting people, it just looks a little different,” said Cheryl Burke-McCarthy, Health First community engagement specialist.

McCarthy said the clinic regularly tried to do community engagement activities, but with the pandemic altering the way people have to interact with one another in recent months, the clinic had to come up with an innovative way to be involved with the community while following safety guidelines.

“What a great opportunity to get out, meet some new people and do it in a safe manner,” she said. “It’s still a way to do outreach and engagement, it just looks a little bit differently because of the times we’re living in.”

McCarthy said the interaction was not only a good opportunity for staff to get out of the office and meet new people in a safe and positive manner, but also an effort to give back to nursing home residents who might have less or restricted visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When you think about you’re used to having friends and family visit and all the sudden, that’s just taken away, this is just a little giveback,” she said.

Christie Netherton,, 270-691-7360

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