Shady Oaks Family,
Please I wish to share our annual update. I saved sending it until after our winter COVID wave. Today, I feel we reached the other side. We look forward to safer and warmer months ahead. We have fought COVID for 2 years. Bristol’s 5 nursing homes have had 502 resident cases, and 102 residents died. Across Connecticut’s 200+ nursing homes, they averaged about 90 cases and 20 deaths per home. Only one, a small Catholic home in Enfield, had fewer than 8 cases. With effort, love, and luck, we had just one resident COVID case. We believe a boostered aide, with no symptoms and a negative rapid test that day, wore a KN95 in a room with 4 air purifiers and yet gave Omicron to a boostered resident. Our frequent testing found the cases early. To prevent spread, the resident went for out rehab. Today, she is back home here, happy, and healthy. Even as we battled COVID, we did our best to uphold our strong nursing and compassionate care. At peak Omicron, we paid 1 in 6 staff to stay home for quarantines, while we paid x2 or x3 hourly pay bonuses to cover shifts. Residents rarely if ever had less than 100% staffing.
During 2021, our other staffing efforts included:
1. We welcomed Kara (Assistant Supervisor RN) who has 20+ years with Bristol Hospital.
2. We welcomed Jill (Evening RN) who has 20+ years at the Hospital for Special Care.
3. We welcomed Keegan (Head Chef) who has a culinary arts degree and 20+ years experience.
4. We welcomed Maria (Recreation Director) who has 15 years at Alzheimer’s Resource Center.
5. We partnered with Harvest Health for weekly in-home Medicare-covered psychiatric services.
6. We went from 4 up to now 5 CNAs (1 for 8 residents) at $20/hr for mornings and evenings.
We meanwhile worked hard to continue safe, frequent, convenient, and private visits for residents. Last March, we began unlimited-duration in-room resident visits by vaccinated families and friends. In December, when Omicron’s extreme contagiousness reduced vaccine protectiveness, we spent $50,000 on air purifiers (now 175+ in our home) and $30,000 on rapid tests to continue safe visits. We feel a duty to protect our residents. At times, our home felt like a war zone. In COVID waves, if we made a mistake, an unseen enemy could harm dozens of people. After each wave, I can only compare our feelings of exhaustion and accomplishment with my Marine homecomings from Iraq. Recognizing our efforts, the Connecticut Assisted Living Association named us Humanitarian Home of the Year. Bristol Press readers voted us Best Skilled Nursing Facility for 2021 & 2020. Despite our successes, we remember heart-breaking losses. We tried hard. We hope we did well. For our current residents, we pledge to continue providing strong nursing in a cozy and loyal home.
Tyson Francis Belanger
* We offer condolences for the passing of Rose Abare, Stacia Balko, Gerald Burns, Cecile Ciekawy, Beatrice Devine, Helen Golden, Elsa Guerrera, Sylvia Grinfeld, Ruth Johnson, Donald LaSalle, Soren Laursen, Helen Lewandoski, Valentina Luchkan, Joseph Mack, John Maxwell, Barbara Scott, Alexander Shapiro, Barbra Terry, and Marilyn Watkins. We also remember those who moved: Tim Truslow and David Deprey. We felt fortunate and grateful to serve them, you, and all our families.