June 10, 2020 —A personal perspective from Shenell Hinton, Kendal at Oberlin’s Director of Clinical Services and Nursing.
A few days before Kendal shut its doors in mid-March because of COVID-19, a health forum was underway in our auditorium. Residents had questions about the looming pandemic and I and a few other staff members stayed afterwards to answer their questions and hear their concerns.
We assured them that the Kendal staff, with an “all-hands on deck” approach, would do everything we could to keep them safe and comfortable. You would do anything for your family, wouldn’t you? Well, that’s how we feel about the 350 men and women who call Kendal home.
Since that day, we have worked tirelessly to put best pandemic practices in place by providing our staff with training, education and personal protective equipment. “Remain super-vigilant on your infection control practices, watchful and mindful,” I tell my staff so they can proceed with confidence for the task at hand, which is to care for our family.
Focus on Vigilance
Every night I send out an email with updates and include inspirational quotes like this one from Socrates: “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Our focus is to instill faith in their abilities, hope for a better future, and to spread loving kindness throughout the community.
Every afternoon after Gov. DeWine’s press conference the leadership team meets on Zoom to review protocols, make changes and answer questions submitted by residents. Like many other retirement communities, we are laser-focused on the situation at hand and nimble, ready to switch gears if needed.
To date we have not had a confirmed case of COVID-19, but we have a Pandemic Alert Team in place to activate quickly and a Pandemic Alert Area set-up with 5 private rooms. We see this as a result of diligently focused efforts and good fortune, as many stories of long-term care infections are more a reflection of an insidious virus that can hide itself asymptomatically for days than any deficiency in infection control practices. In the long-term care field, we have always been at the frontlines of protecting our elderly population and will do whatever it takes.
We have relied heavily on our local partnerships with Lorain County Public Health, Mercy Hospital and other health care organizations to develop a strong, holistic approach in caring for our residents.
Compassion in Action
One of the best ways to describe Kendal’s response is compassion in action. We know this is a frightening time for our vulnerable older adults, especially those living in long-term care communities, and we want to bring peace of mind and comfort in any way we can.
We post daily updates on our website to keep residents and their families informed and include inspirational passages. We help residents set-up family gatherings on Zoom and other social media and call them weekly for a wellness check, and more. “We miss you, we love you, you mean the world to us,” we tell them.
In early May, Kendal launched the “New Normal Planning Committee.” Together, residents and staff have been meeting weekly to plan a phased and safe reopening to community life.
We know that community life will change, but one thing won’t change at Kendal. We were founded 27 years ago based on Quaker values and practices. Equality. Integrity. Community. These are not just words to us. They are at the core of who we are, and they will continue to be long after the pandemic.
“We’ll be better together and stronger forever after COVID-19” – that’s what I tell my family.