Senior Home Workers Could Stay On-site During Crisis
April 8, 2020

Community Letter May 2020

Shady Oaks Community,

We are proud to report on-site caregiving helped us through our local COVID-19 surge without any infections. Our home is still a safe place to live and work. Plus, we are now better trained and equipped. We face dangers ahead, but within about a week, we will be ready for our staff to resume commuting. This letter thanks our caregivers and contributors. It also shares our plan. Our home will mainly depend on KN-95 respirators, frequent tests, and off-site convalescence.

First and foremost, we thank our heroic on-site caregivers for more than 2 months of living and working in our home. They work 60-80 hours weekly, face unique stresses from in-close living, and really miss their families. You should know that, when COVID overwhelms a home, it can kill 25% of residents. Our caregivers, by their sacrifice, saved lives and prevented catastrophe.

We also want to thank our charitable contributors. Almost 100 people, including my mother, donated a total of over $215,000 of cash and in-kind assistance. The Payroll Protection Program added another $343,000. With this help and minus expenses, I will have spent about $250,000 from my personal savings on payroll and supplies, which averages to about $7,000 per resident.

COVID is still coming for us. As of 20 May, 77% of Connecticut nursing homes and 53% of assisted livings have had it. Among CT COVID deaths, 71% have been senior home residents. By my best estimate, 45% of CT nursing home residents have had COVID. The danger is real.

But our home now has KN-95 respirators. These do well to stop droplets and filter vapors. They are also affordable ($4 each) and comfortable enough for staff to get a fresh one each shift and then wear it all day long. We have over 3,500 respirators on hand for staff and residents.

We also now have testing. This is key because many people with COVID have no symptoms. COVID tests are expensive but increasingly accurate, quick for results (often under 24 hours), and plentiful. We now have partner laboratories so we can frequently test our staff and residents.

As a further precaution, we will require off-site convalescence for COVID positive residents. By law, our home can only help chronic and stable residents, and we must protect everyone here. COVID is so unpredictable, lethal, and contagious that, for safety, we will emergency discharge COVID positive residents to hospitals or recovery homes, until they are no longer contagious.

We are forever grateful to our on-site caregivers and donors. They saved us through the surge. We are stronger now and safer for commuting. For questions, please call me at 860-583-1526. As always, we will continue providing strong nursing in our cozy and loyal home. Together, we look forward to a time with fewer COVID infections, better treatments, and someday a vaccine.

Very Respectfully,

Tyson Francis Belanger

We thank our on-site caregivers including Ashley Bessoni, Jeanine Boukus, Faith Brouker, Amanda Carrasquillo, Ashley Castillo, Amber Coloske, Magdalena Conseco, Janet Frohloff, Deborah Jawin-Sheak, Rebecca Lazauskas, Amie Ludecke, Edilma Macias, Allison Morin, Ligia Nieves, Ada Ojeda, Ana Pickering, Marissa Rancourt, Johnna Recio, & Sambo Say. We additionally thank Nicole Guerrette, Mary Fulton, Daniel Desjardins, & Cheryl Brazee.

Download a PDF of Shady Oaks Community Letter