Dear Residents, Families and Friends,
As we mark one year since our first COVID-19 case on April 4, 2020, it is perfectly clear to me that
the only reason myself, and our team, were able to continue on with this battle is due to the love
and support that we have received from all of you. Those times were scary, dark and uncertain. I will
never forget the day when I received “the call,” and I couldn’t believe it. We were more than prepared,
had restricted visitation earlier than most, and had implemented protocols no one else had – like
utilizing our drivers and vans to shuttle our team from home to work so they wouldn’t have to rely on public transportation. Unfortunately, what we didn’t know – and what wasn’t part of the CDC or MDH protocols until a day before our first positive case – was that masking was key. And little did we know about the 14-day incubation period, leaving us all, residents and team, already exposed without ever knowing.
As I reflect on this period, on my 30-year career of taking care of seniors, and living through some serious disasters, nothing prepared me for this. I had never seen anything like it. The quickness of the transmission, like wildfire, was unimaginable. Our goal was to stop it and continue to keep it out while focusing on resident care. We were learning as we went. Soon the drill of wearing PPE correctly, disinfecting, and keeping people away from each other became engrained in our day-to-day routines. The physical plant changed from a warm inviting home to a war zone. Activities, meals in the dining room and all services ceased. Our community was separated – the team in Highlands, Woodlands and Groves stayed in their work area, unless there was an emergent need to crossover. We didn’t see anyone in any other buildings and our residents didn’t see each other nor their families. It was heartbreaking. We figured this type of life would only be for about 3 months, but here we are a year later.
Again, it is important to note, masking was and still is they key. After our initial outbreak, which took about 40 days to clear, our team was able to mitigate the virus and prevent transmission to our residents. While we were still seeing positive team member cases, we were not transmitting it to our residents. My two biggest takeaways from this experience: I have always been a big believer that common sense matters but it was ever critical under these circumstances. This question needed to be asked first: how is it being transmitted? Once you knew that, you could then work to put systems in place to prevent it. Love is my second takeaway: the overwhelming support from our families and the love our team has for the residents, and each other, is why we all are here today. We are better, stronger and more prepared to fight these types of viruses.
Your generous support and love are why our residents and team were able to overcome the physical and emotional exhaustion of this horrific situation. I am forever grateful to all of you and thank you for your trust and partnership.