The COVID-19 pandemic has faced us with unprecedented and unpredictable challenges, requiring constant monitoring, vigilance and new policy implementation. Our staff is working diligently, in collaboration with our affiliated organizations in Chelsea and Peabody, to meet these challenges as they unfold. The safety and well-being of the residents and clients entrusted to our care is our highest priority, and through this letter we want to keep you, our community of friends and supporters, informed of the measures we have implemented.
Protecting our Residents:
Our elders are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. As we learn more about the nature and spread of this disease, (including the fact that a carrier can remain asymptomatic for up to 2 weeks), and as new regulations are released, we continue to implement new policies and protocols to prevent resident and staff exposure. Actions taken thus far include:
- On March 6th, in addition to instituting safeguards as outlined by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), including frequent hand washing and hygiene, we began screening all visitors, family members and staff for their travel history and signs of respiratory illness before permitting them to enter our buildings, including taking their temperatures. Anyone with any indication of exposure to COVID-19 or signs of illness was not permitted to enter our buildings.
- On March 12th, while continuing to screen all staff, we expanded protective measures by banning all visitors, including family members and volunteers, from entering our facilities. All tours were suspended and resident out-trips cancelled, unless deemed medically necessary. Only under extenuating circumstances did we make exceptions, such as resident end-of-life situations.
- On March 16th, in order to further reduce the risk of resident and staff exposure to COVID-19, we required all non-essential staff to work remotely. Only essential staff deemed necessary for the core operations of our facilities are now permitted to enter our buildings.
- Today, we have decided to temporarily close Wernick Adult Day Health Care effective at the end of this week. We are working with those impacted to ensure that they have the proper supports in the community. Wernick staff will be redeployed to Ruth’s House and JNH.
We understand that these protective measures represent a severe trial for our residents and clients and those who love them, but we are doing what we must to protect our vulnerable elderly as well as the staff members who take care of them. The moment we are advised these restrictions can be relaxed, we will do so. We are doing all that we can to help our families maintain contact with their loved ones, through planned telephone calls, Skype and Facetime.
In compliance with the various prohibitions on large gatherings with 50 people of more for the next eight weeks, and to discourage visitations to our campus, we have cancelled the following community events:
- Bubbies Passover Catering
- Passover Seders at JNH and Ruth’s House – Wednesday, April 8th
- Easter Services at JNH and Ruth’s House – Sunday, April 12th
- JGS Winner’s Circle Passover Dinner – Monday, April 13th
- Annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon – Wednesday, April 22nd (to be rescheduled)
As matters unfold, we will continue to review our schedule of events and make necessary adjustments. Currently our 40th Annual Frankel-Kinsler Classic Day of Tournaments on Monday, June 15th is still scheduled to take place.
Our Staff – The Heart of JGS Lifecare:
During this trying time, we want to express our deepest gratitude to our devoted staff for their extraordinary dedication. Each and every day they come to work, many carrying the worry of leaving children at home with caregivers, and the added unexpected expense that comes with that. Many are taking on additional shifts to help fill staff vacancies. We are an organization that no longer relies on agency staff, benefiting from having JGS employees who work as a team, each supporting one another and having personal relationships with our residents. During this difficult time when our residents cannot receive the comfort of family visits, our staff is making the extra effort to provide them with comfort and reassurance, to limit any sense of isolation they may be feeling. Like Cheryl Gumlaw and her dedicated life enrichment team, who take the time to take pictures and share them with families as well as provide updates to help keep families connected. We are deploying iPads and staff are being trained on
how to set residents up through Skype and Facetime. We are seeking special ways to show staff appreciation, including providing food for them at work and giving out gift cards to local restaurants providing take-out. This benefits our staff as well as our local restaurants who are struggling due to forced closures.
A Prayer for These Times
Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, our Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life, created and shared this meaningful prayer at our last leadership team meeting, offering guidance and inspiration as we navigate the challenging days ahead:
Dear God, as we come together during these extraordinary times, remind us of these few but important things:
Help us continue to find inner strength and inner peace, so that we can keep our hearts open to those in need, especially those frail elders and their families who come under our care;
Help us to keep our minds open, so that we can muster as much clarity and determination as possible, to make good decisions, that are right for our community; Help us continue to find ways to nurture our spirits, so that we can stay true to our purpose and lead with vision and with compassion;
Help us remember that we are not alone, that we are surrounded by talented, caring colleagues and friends, as well as loving family members, who support what we do each day;
So that together we will continue to be Your servants, serving with humility and love, for that is our true calling, especially now, especially at this hour.
We hope that you too can find strength and guidance from these meaningful words, and that your families remain safe and healthy in the days ahead. If we can be of any service to you, please do not hesitate to reach out.
As the next few weeks unfold we look forward to keeping you informed of our continued progress in meeting the challenges presented by COVID-19. Together we will succeed in protecting our elders, and providing them with the care they need during this difficult time!
Chairman of the Board