Some 500 residents of Darülaceze, a public shelter for the elderly and those in need of special care in Istanbul, have been living in a continued lockdown for nine months, since the care home closed its doors to visitors to protect the elderlies early March when the COVID-19 pandemic made its way into Turkey.
“They spent the days wandering in the garden, solving crosswords in open air or playing with the cats of the institution,” said the officials.
According to the rules, no relatives have been permitted to enter Darülaceze. They were able to communicate with their families through phone calls.
A 71-year-old resident, Hikmet Geyik, said he was happy about the precautions.
“We are safe here, thank God. All precautions are taken. Everyone stands distant to one another and wears masks while gathering.”
“We go out to the garden, then due to the coronavirus, we cannot safely walk around and then we go back to our rooms. We speak with our relatives on the phone,” said Abbas Çamur, a 51-year-old man who has been living in Darülaceze for 11 years.
According to the officials, since March only during the summer, measures were eased. Relatives could see the elderlies in person for only 15 minutes wearing masks and adhering to physical distancing. But as the number of the cases increased, Darülaceze reclosed its doors at the end of the summer.
“Our workers work with great effort for months just to keep the residents happy and safe amid this pandemic,” said Hamza Cebeci, the head of the Darülaceze.
“We have 10 doctors, around 400 workers and around 500 guests here in Darülaceze,” added Cebeci.
Ufuk Yurtsever, the head physician of the institution, said only three cases were seen in Darülaceze during the pandemic. “And it was at the beginning of the pandemic. We had no losses.”
Yurtsever said they have been following strict rules to reduce any collective mobility.
“They do not all go out at the same time. We have time periods for different ages. They go out for 15 minutes and stay far from each other by two meters.”
The presence of Darülaceze, a big compound in the Okmeydanı neighborhood of Istanbul’s Şişli district, dates back to the Russo-Turkish Wars in 1877, when hundreds of thousands of people took shelter in Istanbul and the streets were full of sick and helpless people.
Sultan Abdülhamit II of the Ottoman Empire issued a decree in 1890 to collect aid to these people. He made his first contribution with a donation of 7,000 gold liras and a cash worth of 10,000 liras.
The foundation of the building was laid in 1892 and completed in 1895. Since then, the institution has been looking after the elderly and those in need for 125 years.
Hurriyet Daily News