What’s your overall assessment and impact of the pandemic with regard to the most vulnerable population -- seniors?
COVID-19 has been historic in its impact, and it appears that we are still in the early stages of knowing the toll that this virus will take. In the earliest days of the outbreak, it became clear that seniors were most vulnerable to infection and serious health outcomes. Many long-term care and nursing facilities were not prepared for the way COVID-19 swept through residential buildings like wildfire, and unfortunately, many lives were lost because of that. Since then, we have all learned a lot about how to protect ourselves, and our most vulnerable, and we have made changes, prevented infection, and saved lives. But the impact of COVID-19 is still felt very intensely every day, especially by those who must stay at home or live with severe restrictions on their social activities and family time. It has been a very tough time for us all, but probably toughest for seniors.
As a psychologist/health scientist for the CDC, how do you view Lenbrook’s handling of the pandemic?
As someone who has worked in infectious disease at CDC for over two decades, I have been a part of many public health responses. I have seen responses that were incredibly well implemented, and others that were unsuccessful due to failures in either vision, organization, collaboration or leadership. Lenbrook’s response, in my opinion, could serve as a model of success for other facilities. From the leadership team’s openness to learn about the virus itself, to seek advice and counsel from public health experts and to monitor the epidemiology and respond appropriately to keep residents safe. While keeping residents safe was front and center at all times, the leadership team at Lenbrook consistently communicated an ever-present concern and awareness of the impact of restrictions on residents’ quality of life and mental health during the very challenging shutdown. The residents’ and associates’ amazing patience, cooperation and protection of the entire community was also key. This pandemic is not over yet, but I have every confidence that Lenbrook is absolutely up for this historical challenge, and I am very glad that it is where my mom calls home.
As a daughter of a Lenbrook resident, what’s your opinion of how Lenbrook handled the pandemic?
I’m proud of the Lenbrook community’s effort to respond early to COVID-19, and to continue their commitment to keep residents safe. I am convinced that my mom is in a safe place – and that she is being very well cared for by her neighbors, friends, and the Lenbrook staff.
What are the benefits of a resident living in a senior community during such a crisis?
The most significant benefits are safety and that people are not in the crisis by themselves. This virus has challenged us all in so many ways but having neighbors and Lenbrook staff to speak with and to share the experience with each day – even if while socially distanced or by phone – makes a huge difference. You are not alone in such a scary time, and that is so important.
Any other thoughts?
Don’t let your guard down! It’s so easy to watch things looking like they are getting back to normal. Peachtree Street is active again, people are out walking, shopping, and eating out but today the virus is still in Georgia. It is unfortunate, frustrating and sad that we have not won this battle yet. But we can, and I believe we will, especially if we can get a vaccine soon. Until then, stay safe.