April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020 – Family Letter

Dear Residents and Families,

More than a month into the COVID-19 pandemic, our team has continued to work through adversity to meet the commitment of care we make to you and your loved ones. We, along with the rest of the world, are also getting a better grasp of this crisis. While the impact to our daily work and your lives continue to be severe, we strive to make every day better. Here are the latest updates from the past week.

Leading the Industry and Partnering with the State

In order to weather this storm, all industry stakeholders must work together for the benefit of residents in skilled nursing facilities and assisted living residences throughout the state. To this end, there is an unprecedented level of collaboration happening between the state government and among all senior care providers. Of note, the Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA), a trade association representing approximately 400 nursing and assisted living homes, is working closely with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to assist providers in helping them get through this crisis. It is an honor that we were asked to help lead the way and contribute to plans for how senior care organizations in MA can best save lives of residents and protect staff during this pandemic.

As Vice Chair of the MSCA, Adam was selected to join the new MSCA Long-Term Care Central Command, a group made up of industry leaders, MIT faculty, and other experts tasked with supporting senior care organizations in the areas of infection control, workforce, PPE and testing. Already, our joint work with EOHHS to evaluate and enhance infection control practices has led to a new infection control checklist. This checklist will be used statewide to ensure that best practices are followed in all facilities.

In addition, Adam also leads a team focused specifically on baseline testing and surveillance of all residents and staff. Widespread testing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities has become a top priority of the state. As one of the first organizations to do wide scale testing, we are excited to lead this group and share the knowledge gained from our own experience.

DPH Visit

Last Wednesday, the Department of Public Health visited our Leavitt Family Jewish Home in Longmeadow for a routine assessment of our infection control practices. We are proud to report that the DPH team was very impressed with our protocols and operations and noted the high bar we set for other organizations. They especially complimented our access to PPE, broad scale testing programs, and the knowledgeable and compassionate staff who care for our residents every day. We are confident that when DPH visits our other facilities in the coming weeks, they will find the same level of exceptional care and strict adherence to infection control practices that they saw in Longmeadow.

Staff Morale and Support

We care about our staff as much as they care for your loved ones. While our team continues to offer meals and other assistance to our employees, we are especially heartened by the generous donations of time from counseling professionals in our surrounding communities. We have provided a list of those coping and counseling resources to our employees so they may reach out for confidential help. In addition, several community groups and restaurants have donated meals and supplies to our employees and facilities. These efforts have been greatly appreciated by our incredible staff.

As a small token, our leadership and staff who have been working remotely created a video to express our appreciation and remind all our essential resident care and support staff that they are true heroes. We invite you to view it and see for yourself how we

We have also heard from many of you asking about additional ways to support our employees. We thank those who have already generously donated to our Employee Assistance Fund, accessible through our website. We also welcome words of thanks and support from you that we can share with the staff and in future community letters.

Celebrations During a Pandemic

Though not the same as before the crisis, our dedicated staff has found innovative ways to continue to celebrate the special milestones of our residents as best we can. We were thrilled to see 20 decorated cars drive by Ruth’s House in Longmeadow, helping a daughter celebrate her parents’ 75th wedding anniversary. We are overjoyed to share the story about Helen who celebrated her 93rd birthday at Kaplan Estates in Peabody with a parade of police cars, fire engines, trucks, and 20 vehicles with relatives. Even with social distancing, we want to work with you and your family to continue to make events like those above meaningful and memorable.

Though there may still be a long way ahead, we are encouraged to see the ray of hope getting a little brighter each day. Whenever one of our residents recovers from COVID-19 and leaves an isolation unit, our staff takes the time to offer a small and special celebration to mark the occasion. At 93 years old, Annette at Katzman Center for Living in Chelsea was even featured in the news for recently overcoming the virus. We also rejoice whenever we welcome back a staff member who has returned from quarantine or recovery, eager to rejoin the ranks of many who care for your loved ones. We look forward to many more celebrations to mark the recovery of our residents and staff.

If you have any ideas on how we can continue to improve our communications and services, we want you to let us know. For any questions or to share words of encouragement or support for our staff, please feel free to contact us at emails@chelseajewish.org.

Respectfully yours,

Adam Berman

Barry Berman