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August 7, 2020
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December 10, 2020

Shady Oaks Assisted Living 2020 Improvements

22 November 2020

Dear Shady Oaks Community,

In previous years, I wrote annual letters to share updates about our staffing and renovations.  This year, it feels more appropriate to devote this letter to our home’s COVID-19 precautions.  It’s been a devastating year for COVID in Connecticut senior homes.  93% of CT nursing homes and 74% of assisted livings had COVID positive residents.  Deaths by senior home residents comprised over 70% of Connecticut’s total COVID deaths.  Across Bristol’s five nursing homes, 312 residents have had COVID and 70 of them died.  Meanwhile, with great effort, expense, and discipline, Shady Oaks has stayed safe.  We have not yet had a COVID positive resident.

I believe these policies, practices, and purchases have meant the most for our safety:

  1. Through the spring surge, 17+ staff and I lived here and provided a caregiving bubble.
  2. We then began equipping staff, residents, and visitors with fresh daily KN95 masks.
  3. For our staff’s safety at home, we gave them 200 N95s, 900 KN95s, and 5,000 masks.
  4. We tested all staff and residents every week since June, even when it was not required.
  5. We gained permission to use rapid test kits in our home and have used 80+ rapid tests.
  6. We committed to discharging any positive residents to the hospital or a recovery home.
  7. We adapted our salon porch into a COVID safety staff entrance and visitation room.
  8. We bought 70+ air purifiers costing $40,000+ and activated them throughout our home.
  9. We built a 30-day food stockpile and 90-day Personal Protective Equipment stockpile.
  10. We upped our CNA start pay to $17 and prohibited staff from working in other homes.
  11. We hired 7-days-a-week recreation staffing, so we could better assist our family visits.
  12. We installed 9 outdoor wedding tents and hosted summer concerts in our backyard.
  13. We safely navigated transitions for new residents and those returning from the hospital.
  14. We interviewed 5 Home Health Agencies about their COVID safety and found Atrinity.
  15. Our staff gave round-the-clock care for dying residents, so we reduced hospice staffing.

Beyond any policy, practice, or purchase, we owe our deepest gratitude to our staff members.  Day and night, they served our residents and each other by remaining safe in their personal lives and accepting challenges (bubbling up, wearing masks for hours, and weekly testing) with grace.

Altogether, so far, it’s been a difficult yet strong year for Shady Oaks.  For the first time ever, Bristol Press readers voted us as the Best Skilled Nursing Facility and Best Retirement Home.  We will remain vigilant.  Right now, I feel fear, courage, and hope.  Vaccines will be here soon.  Through the upcoming holidays, I wish safety and love for all our families, residents, and staff.

Very Respectfully,

Tyson Francis Belanger

At the conclusion of each annual letter, we together pause and remember our former residents who have passed or moved away since our last letter back on 15 September 2019.  We offer heartfelt condolences for the passings of Marjorie Andrade, Marjorie Budge, Etalo Calcinari, Forence Dlugoz, William Fickett, Kathleen Gavin, Suzanne Girard, Theresa Glynn, Carol Hess, Betty Hinman, Edna Kozikowski, Robert Lee, Romeo Lussier, Cecil Maloney, Josephine Mills, Francis Nagy, Leonard Nowak, Nancy Ribeiro, Chester Ryan, Sophie Smolenski, Elsie Soucy, Jennie Sylvester, and George Yacone.  We also remember our residents who have moved: Elba and Vincent Caruso, Dorothea Hill, and Filomena Hovhanessian.  We tried to be helpful.  We miss the residents, you, and your families.