365 days ago, COVID-19 changed all of our lives. For our organization’s nursing home, the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, March 11, 2020 was the day we were forced to close our doors to visitors. A first in our organization’s 104-year history. While we could never predict the magnitude of the pandemic and what the next year would hold, one thing was certain – we would do everything in our power to keep the older adults in our care and our staff safe. We found creative solutions so that the life-saving care we provide would never be compromised – for older adults living on our Riverdale campus and throughout New York in the diverse communities we serve.
Healthcare heroes entrusted to care for this nation’s older adults deserve our gratitude, respect and appreciation. They are unsung heroes who stepped up, despite their own fears and concerns for safety. This past year they experienced every imaginable emotion – from grief and exhaustion to grit and determination. As we move forward and our healthcare communities get vaccinated, secure PPE and adjust protocols to this New World, we are confident that we are stronger, smarter and more resilient than we could have ever imagined.
The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older adults has shed a light on the fragility of this population, the need to protect their health and safety while maintaining their well-being, and the politicization of a public health crisis. Long-term care providers are a second family to older adults. Stepping in to provide care, compassion and support when the individual or their support network cannot. It is our responsibility to provide not only an appropriate level of care, but superior care. To provide engagement so that people thrive, not just survive. And to provide hope that this chapter in life is not defined by limitations, but by exploration of what might just be possible – whether that is a physical, emotional or spiritual milestone.
As we reflect and remember these past 365 days, may we stay strong and keep hopeful. Let us shower our healthcare heroes with gratitude and a million Thank Yous for their perseverance, resilience and devotion to those they serve.
Jamie Halpern, one of our incredibly dedicated occupational therapists who works in our separate COVID Recovery Building, shares these inspiring words: “Knowing I’m showing up and bringing my best self for each patient during such a vulnerable time when they cannot be surrounded by loved ones keeps me committed each day. Not only are we helping these patients to recover physically, but by being there we are also addressing their feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Small wins each day like being able to get out of bed or brush their teeth helps them to regain a sense of hope/identity, and it feels amazing to be a part of that.”
That is the voice of a healthcare hero. To Jamie and the thousands of caring and compassionate men and women who care for older adults each day, Thank you.