Susan Cooper A Message from the President & CEO

Susan C. Drabic on COVID-19

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Susan Cooper

A Message from the President & CEO

In all that we've been through over these last months, March 2020 seems like a distant memory. It was at that time we introduced many restrictions to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading within our communities. Over one weekend (I will never forget), we put together a COVID-19 Daily Crisis Management Team to deal with the myriad of changes and precautions that needed to happen immediately. We closed our communities to all visitors and halted the movement of residents and staff between our different styles of living. In short, we changed every aspect of the way we've worked so hard to perfect the delivery of services to the residents living in our communities. We closed dining venues and our hair salon, we canceled group events and activities, we discouraged travel for vacation and we re-directed our housekeeping and maintenance services to focus on frequent deep disinfecting and sanitizing of high touch surfaces.

Overnight we developed our own grocery shopping and delivery service for residents, we invested substantially in PPE and in the installation of isolation materials and equipment to construct isolation areas for safety precautions. We conducted exercise classes in hallways outside of resident apartments and we delivered happy hour fun, games and refreshments to our residents living in our cottage community. We also invested in a lot of new technology to bring employee team meetings online and allow those who could work remotely from home to do so. And we restricted access to our community to one designated area where screening of all employees for symptoms and possible COVID-19 exposure is completed before any team member can enter our buildings to work.

Thankfully, our vigilance and early implementation of restrictions at both of our communities paid off. While there has been a lot of negative national publicity about nursing homes throughout the country where COVID-19 has spread like wildfire, we've been doing everything possible to prevent the spread of this virus in our communities. We've had minimal cases of employees and residents in residential living and personal care test positive for the virus. And we are so grateful that we've had no cases of COVID-19 among our most vulnerable population of residents who live in our nursing home. And that isn't the result of good luck, good fortune or happenstance…it's the result of a dedicated team of professionals working together towards one common goal…to protect the health and safety of our residents who we care about deeply.

As we entered the month of May, we quickly realized this pandemic wasn't going to be resolved anytime soon. That meant we needed to begin planning for how we were going to create a "new normal" at Morningstar Living. To make that happen, the COVID-19 Daily Crisis Management Team evolved into what we call our "New Normal Transition Team" (NNTT). This team works together every week to develop, implement and communicate detailed plans to move our communities forward again, toward some semblance of a "new normal." One of the most beneficial aspects of living your life in a community is the ability to socialize, engage and be connected with others. And this virus was forcing us to keep residents from doing this. Additionally, residents could not see family members and friends for months, and this was really hard on them. And so, in May for Mother's Day, and then again in June, for Father's Day, we planned and orchestrated "drive-by" visitation parades of cars with family members and friends for our residents.

As we enter the final months of summer 2020, the NNTT is no longer thinking about "post-COVID-19." Instead, this team is now focused on developing ways to adapt our operations to living safely with the threat of COVID-19 until there is a vaccine or other treatment. We've already developed and implemented a phased strategy for re-starting services and re-opening various amenities at our communities. And as we continue to follow the recommendations and guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the PA Department of Health (DOH), the NNTT has developed and communicated safe, limited and cautious in-person visitation policies and procedures for resident visitation. A strict masking policy is in place. We continue to screen visitors, staff and residents for symptoms and possible COVID-19 exposure. We've re-purposed some of our office space for designated visitation areas where physical distancing can be achieved. And we continue deep cleaning and sanitization of all touch spaces. And what a joy it has been seeing our residents reunited with their loved ones again!

In spite of all of the fear and negativity surrounding this pandemic, I've had the unexpected joy of witnessing the very best of humanity at work. Residents and their families have extended so much support and patience to us as we put some very restrictive plans into place. And employees have put their own fears aside and showed up for work, placing their concern for our residents ahead of their own families. We have a banner on the front of our administration building that reads: "Heroes Work Here." And that is truly an understatement. And it is truly evidence of the commitment and dedication to the mission and core purpose of Morningstar Living…

"Making a difference...by enriching life's journey for all we serve."

Going Green. At Moravian Hall Square, Going Green is important to our residents and staff alike.

Home Wellness Going Green

goinggreenMoravian Hall Square established the Morningstar Living Sustainability Committee to find practical and efficient ways to reduce global warming, conserve natural resources, increase energy conservation and educate ourselves on reducing the impact on our fragile planet from plastic water bottles in landfills to plastic bags killing wildlife on land and sea.

Moravian Hall Square residents and staff have taken on the challenge by finding and using recycled paper products, setting up single stream recycling containers for residents and staff to collect more recyclables, and reducing our use of energy. Styrofoam has virtually been eliminated from the facility. We are making great progress in using electricity at off peak hours; installing motion detector lights in common areas, setting computers to “sleep” when not in use, changing temperature settings a few degrees and turning off lights when leaving rooms. The first three months of encouraging off peak (6pm-10am) energy use brought a 4.1% decrease. And we now have 50% of our electricity coming from Green sources.

Another important role of the Sustainability Committee is to provide education, heighten awareness of the magnitude of this worldwide problem and offer simple tips to residents and staff: using cloth bags instead of plastic for groceries, how to register to stop receiving junk mail, where to buy local produce, how to garden organically, etc.

Our garden space offers raised beds for ease of access, and is complete with composting tumblers and rainwater collection barrels to make the most of our natural resources.

Since 2014, the Sustainability Committee has had a robust composting program set up within the resident garden.  With composting tumblers in place, residents are able to turn their kitchen waste into compost that is then used throughout the community’s gardens.  The hope is that as the composting program grows it will eventually remove all compostable food products from the waste stream.

 

 

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Some of the staff has been here for twenty years, I know them all very well.