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Peace of Mind

Ruth’s House

Ruth’s House dedicates its lower-level Garden neighborhood to memory care.

 

The connection between music and memory is a complex and often surprising one. Just ask the families of loved ones with dementia at Ruth’s House, the assisted-living residence on the JGS Lifecare campus in Longmeadow.

“We ask, ‘what sort of music did your loved one enjoy?’ Then we have volunteers come in and build personal playlists,” said Susan Halpern, vice president of Development and Communications at JGS. “It’s amazing to see the reactions — to see someone who’s agitated get less agitated, or someone who had been very quiet come out of their shell because they’re hearing something that’s very familiar to them.”

Mary-Anne Schelb, director of Business Development, has also seen the results of what JGS calls its music and memory program.

“Maybe they’re not much of a talker, and suddenly they’re singing this song. It’s hard to carry on a conversation with them, but when the music comes on, they remember every word. The artistic and creative ability is really the last to go. It’s in there — we just need to know how to pull it out.”

Or, as Halpern put it, “it’s about meeting them where they are.” That’s why residents’ families fill out a long (around eight pages) resident profile upon admission, Schelb added.

“We really want to get to know your mom or dad, and we want to know what they like and don’t like, because then we utilize that.”

“If they can’t stand bingo, we’re not going to try to push bingo. Or if they love hot-air balloons, we can go up to them and ask, ‘hey, do you know we’re showing a hot-air-balloon movie in the movie room?’ You see their face light up — ‘you are? I love hot-air balloons.’ The profile is time-consuming, but we really want to get to know your mom or dad, and we want to know what they like and don’t like, because then we utilize that.”

Meeting residents where they are is especially important for those with early- to mid-stage memory impairments and other dementia-related diseases who live in the Garden at Ruth’s House, a separate, secure neighborhood that caters to individuals with increased cognitive and physical limitations, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, and where staff members are specifically trained to care for individuals in need of memory care.

Sue Halpern (left) and Mary-Anne Schelb

Sue Halpern (left) and Mary-Anne Schelb say incorporating memory care into the entire JGS continuum makes sense with people living longer and dementia becoming more prevalent.

But what some might not know, Schelb said, is that JGS has, over the years, incorporated specific memory-care training across its contimuum of services, from Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care to Wernick Adult Day Health Care; from the Leavitt Family Jewish Home to the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation.

Why? Because the memory-care population is on the rise as Americans live longer than ever — and early-onset dementia in younger people is ticking up as well. So the model JGS has adopted, of making sure all the points along its continuum of services can handle different levels of dementia, is one increasingly taking hold in the world of senior living and care.

“We were the ones who spearheaded dementia-friendly Longmeadow a few years ago, which was really important to us, to make people aware of the differences of folks that have this higher level of memory loss, because people really didn’t know how to deal with them. They didn’t know what to do, how to act,” Schelb explained. “We wanted to make people aware, so I worked with the senior center, some emergency responders, and we worked with the Alzheimer’s Association and got certified as a dementia-friendly town.”

Similarly, making JGS a dementia-friendly campus was a natural evolution, she noted. “Except for Genesis independent living, every single piece of the campus concentrates on memory care.”

 

Gardening Tools

The Garden gives Ruth’s House an element of security and higher-level care for individuals with dementia, Schelb explained.

“Maybe you start out in traditional assisted living, and as they progress [with memory loss], we could add services to the apartment as long as they’re not a wander risk, and if they do become a wander risk, we’ve got the secure Garden level, which is beautiful inside and out,” she said, noting the waterfall, scenic walkways, and benches out back; the fact that the area is safely fenced in is obscured by the landscaping.

“We just wanted to make it this gorgeous, park-like environment. A lot of people like to walk, and and here they can be outside, and it gives them that sense of freedom.”

In the Leavitt skilled-nursing facility, two nursing neighborhoods are dedicated to caring for people with memory impairments, Halpern explained, while staff of the other JGS programs, like Wernick and Sosin, are trained in working with people with memory loss as well.

“As a campus, we’re caring for elders, and it sort of goes hand in hand that, as people get older, they’re suffering memory loss,” she told BusinessWest. “So we take the care of people with dementia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease as a central care delivery that we train our staff on during orientation.”

That orientation, when staff are taught how to engage with people with dementia, is followed by annual reviews and specific skills-training events during the year, she added, noting that JGS will be using grant funds to expand that skills training.

Ruth’s House’s memory-care residents

Ruth’s House’s memory-care residents take part in both indoor and outdoor activities intended to engage their minds.

“We’re a person-centered campus, and we deal with memory impairment across our entire campus the same way,” Halpern added. “You take the approach that you’re meeting the person where they are.”

Added Schelb, “we’re finding a lot more people suffering from memory loss at earlier ages. Early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s is something very real that a lot of people are experiencing, so we need to pivot and shift to make sure we can care for our folks here on the campus in any way, shape, or form.

“We’ve even got our home health dealing with folks with memory loss, or even end-stage Alzheimer’s in hospice,” she went on. “Unfortunately, we have seen more of it, across the board; I think healthcare in general has seen a lot more. And we want to be able to give our residents as fulfilled a life as possible.”

“We just wanted to make it this gorgeous, park-like environment. A lot of people like to walk, and and here they can be outside, and it gives them that sense of freedom.”

Many times, Halpern said, a senior-living facility is one of the first places family members contact when they suspect a memory issue.

“People reach out to us when they need help. And when do families need help? Often, it’s when they have a loved one who’s suffering from dementia and memory impairment, and they’ve tried to work with them at home. So we’ll work with them at home with our Spectrum Home Health Care, but then it can get to a point where you just can’t handle it. Maybe it’s the incontinence, maybe it’s the wandering and the risk of that, but we find that families are reaching out to us when they’re willing to give up their loved one. And it is a tough decision to place your loved one in a care setting.”

Even people with dementia who are able to live at home with family members can benefit from Wernick’s day programs, Halpern added.

“We were one of the first adult day health centers in Western Mass., back in the ’70s. We get a lot of people needing adult day care who have memory impairment and forgetfulness, and they are benefiting from being in social settings — and we offer social settings, be it in adult day care or assisted living, that helps people not feel isolated, and we help give them experiences that are failure-free.”

 

High-tech, Human Touch

Some of those experiences at Ruth’s House take place in a sensory room that allows residents to have experiences that reduce agitation and frustration, especially late in the day, a phenomenon known as sundowning.

“Some don’t want to be touched, or don’t like bright lights or loud sounds. They react differently to activities,” Schelb said, explaining that the sensory room is softly lit, soothing music often plays, and the room incorporates tactile technology, on touchscreens and activity panels, that stimulates in a calmer way.

“We downplay the aggravation for them. We teach staff how to recognize it and what to do, and it’s part of their care plan. We know what activities they like. And any new technology they have out there, we try to get and incorporate into our care plans and train staff to utilize them properly.”

Beyond its own programs, Ruth’s House works with families on their own communication, Schelb said.

“Sometimes we find families don’t know how to interact with their loved ones, causing frustrations. There’s a level of resentment because it really engulfs their whole life. We say, ‘let us help you; let us be the caregiver, and you go back to being the son or daughter or husband or wife.’ It’s really hard to do both.”

By focusing on the relationship and not the caregiving, families learn to move past the frustrations of life with Alzheimer’s or dementia, especially during the early stages when they’re just getting acclimated to the situation.

“They can get upset with mom or dad: ‘I just told you that; how do you not remember that?’ But they’re not purposefully forgetting; this is just part of the disease,” Schelb said, so family education and support groups are crucial — as is understanding when it’s time to seek the appropriate level of help. “Sometimes they can stay at home, and we can help. But sometimes they realize it’s just too much, and they realize they have options on our campus.”

It’s a campus that embraces not only person-centered care, Halpern said, but — at least in the Sosin Center — the ‘green house’ model of small-house care, which focuses on three goals: an authentic, home-like setting; meaningful life; and empowered staff.

“We recognize the environment is important to peoples’ well-being and how they feel,” she noted, adding that a second phase of what’s been called Project Transformation will bring the green-house model of renovations to the Leavitt Jewish Family Home as well — arguably a more important site for it, since it’s a long-term facility where residents will live the rest of their lives.

In short, Halpern said, JGS continues to look at ways to meet residents where they are.

“That affects how we care for people with dementia as well,” she added. “It’s part of our philosophy.”

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare, in conjunction with Behavioral Health Network and Gándara Center, is putting together a COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinic for individuals age 5 and older on Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID vaccines, plus flu vaccines, will be available. A 15-minute observation is required. Call Mary-Anne Schelb at (413) 310-4693 with any questions.

The clinic will be located in the Genesis Independent Living Community Room (pull into 780 Converse St. and follow the signs). Registration at bit.ly/jgsvax is recommended but not required.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW JGS Lifecare  a health care system serving seniors and their families in Western Mass., will be hosting the Baystate Vaccination Van at its campus located at 770 Converse St. in Longmeadow, August 30 and  Sept. 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. 

This service is open to the community. Visitors can get the first and second inoculation of the Pfizer vaccine, or come either of the dates for the one-time Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Visitors must bring a legal form of identification and wear a mask and maintain proper social distance at all times while on the property. No one will be permitted without a mask.

For more information, contact Mary-Anne Schelb, JGS Lifecare director of Business Development, at (413) 567-6211, ext. 3571.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare will host its Frankel-Kinsler Classic golf-tournament fundraiser on Monday, Aug. 16 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow. This will be the organization’s 40th annual tournament, and it is being held to honor the memory of Seymour Frankel, one of the founders of the Classic and a longtime supporter and special ambassador of JGS Lifecare. In addition to golf, the tournament includes bridge, canasta, and mahjong tournaments.

The tournament is named not for Seymour, but in memory of his son, Michael Frankel, a past chairman of the JGS board who passed away in 2013 at the age of 49. It is also named in honor of the Raymond and Herman Kinsler families, longtime supporters of JGS Lifecare. With Seymour’s passing this year, tournament leaders will pay tribute to his leadership and commitment to JGS Lifecare.

“Seymour touched and enriched so many lives and so many organizations. JGS Lifecare was at the top of the list,” said Susan Halpern, vice president of Development at JGS Lifecare. “He helped start so many firsts here. He and his wife Edna, of blessed memory, were amongst the founders of the Mr. and Mrs. Club, and he brought the idea of a fundraising golf tournament … now our Frankel-Kinsler Classic, renamed in memory of his beloved son, Michael. He was instrumental in running the raffle and bridge tournaments year after year. As a member of every development committee I ever led, he brought forth great ideas and connected with so many in the community to help us spread our good work and raise the necessary funds to accomplish our goals. He leaves an extraordinary legacy of caring and good deeds.”

Event sponsors committed to the tournament include the Albert & Judith Goldberg Family Foundation; Harry Grodsky & Co.; the Lynn D. and Gilbert A. Haberman Family Fund at the Jewish Endowment Foundation, a division of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts; Steve and Georgianne Roberts; Epstein Financial Services; Berkshire Bank; Alekman DiTusa, LLC; Century Investment; CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP; Donna Frankel; Kaste Industrial Machine Sales Inc.; NEFCO; and ProCare LTC Pharmacy.

Registration begins at 11 a.m., with tee-off at 12:30 p.m. The entry fee of $275 includes 18 holes of golf, a barbecue lunch, dinner, and an ice-cream-sundae bar. Golfers will have a chance to win several hole-in-one contests sponsored by Gary Rome Hyundai, Teddy Bear Pools, and Tekoa Country Club, as well as win raffle prizes. Golf Tournament Solutions will offer golfers the opportunity to win a closest-to-the-pin contest with the use of its air cannon. Awards will be presented to top golfers during the dinner portion of the event.

Proceeds will fund enhancements to resident programming and services, fund the purchase of medical and personal protective equipment, and support staff scholarships for advanced training and career advancement.

To register, visit jgslifecare.org/frankel-kinsler or contact Halpern at [email protected] or (413) 567-3949, ext. 3533.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare recently unveiled its new “Superheroes Saving Lives” campaign. Geared to its dedicated frontline staff, the lighthearted campaign focuses upon serious subjects: thanking employees for adhering to proper infection-control protocols as well as conveying the importance of taking the coronavirus vaccine.

Created in English and Spanish, the three-month campaign features videos from Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence and Leavitt Family Jewish Home residents, who thank the staff for their heroic efforts in keeping them safe during the pandemic. The videos span the gamut from humorous to serious to emotional. Additionally, staff also encouraged their own family members to record videos showing how important it is for individuals to follow safety guidelines and proper hygiene protocols.

“We have faced many challenging and unprecedented situations since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Rob Whitten, executive director of JGS Lifecare’s Leavitt Family Jewish Home. “Our staff has been extraordinary the entire time. I am incredibly grateful for their resilience, dedication, and cooperation in keeping our residents safe and healthy. This campaign is our way of thanking our employees and letting them know how much we appreciate their efforts. We’re also hoping it instills a little bit of humor into our daily routine.”

The campaign slogan — “Not all superheroes wear capes. At JGS Lifecare, we wear masks,” — emphasizes the fact that healthcare workers have emerged as real-life superheroes, risking their own health every day to protect the lives of residents. Components of the campaign include superhero buttons, care packages, T-shirts, candy, and capes. Employees are encouraged to take the JGS Lifecare Superhero pledge, in which they promise to “keep myself, my co-workers, my residents, and my community safe by following safety practices at work, at home, and in my community.”

Healthcare Heroes

She Became a Guiding Light at a Time of Pain and Darkness

Rabbi Devorah Jackson

Rabbi Devorah Jacobson

Rabbi Devorah Jacobson came to JGS Lifecare as its director of Spiritual Life in 2001. And, for the first 19 years or so, she came to work each day knowing exactly what her job was and how it would be carried out.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic reached this facility last March … well, she still knew what her role was, but she had to continually revisit that question about how to carry it out, because the answer had the potential to change seemingly every day.

“Every day, I would ask, ‘what does it mean to be a chaplain in a long-term facility during this time?” she told BusinessWest. “In the midst of the pandemic, when many of our residents are sick, many are going to the hospital, and many are dying, and staff are being called upon to work long hours and do things they weren’t necessarily doing before, like post-mortems, and where they’re risking their own health and lives every day they walked into the building … I’m observing all this and asking myself, ‘what is my role as the spiritual leader of this institution?’”

To say she would find new — and impactful — ways to answer that question would be an understatement.

Indeed, over the course of the past seven months, Jacobson has been a source of comfort to a number of constituencies, including staff members, residents, and their families. And she has done this through a number of means, everything from donning PPE and visiting sick and dying residents with COVID to rallying community organizations to send staff members meals of gratitude; from enlisting crisis therapists and mental-health counselors to offer staff free confidential counseling to creating prayer and inspiration cards for spiritual support; from helping raise awareness and funds for JGS’s Employee Assistance Fund to moving furniture, on at least one occasion.

“I’m part of the team,” she explained. “And I made a pretty quick decision — to be truly part of the team, 365 days a year, we do what we’re called upon to do.”

It is sentiments like this that prompted Susan Halpern, vice president of Development and Communications for JGS, who nominated Jacobson, to write that “our heroes are people we look up to and admire for their extraordinary actions and achievements. They are people we wish to emulate. Devorah’s countless acts of caring and loving-kindness, her concern for others, her efforts seeking justice for all, make her a standout candidate for the prestigious Healthcare Heroes award.”

“I’m part of the team. And I made a pretty quick decision — to be truly part of the team, 365 days a year, we do what we’re called upon to do.”

Indeed, as she talked with BusinessWest at a small table outside the Julian J. Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home — a nod to the precautions being taken to keep all those inside the facility safe — Jacobson repeatedly pointed toward the building and said, “the real heroes are in there.”

She was referring to the frontline workers who confronted a ferocious outbreak of COVID-19 in the early spring that would ultimately claim 66 lives and leave staff members fearful of what might happen to them, but still committed to carrying out their jobs.

In many ways, she pivoted within her role, from spending the bulk of her time with residents and families — handling everything from Jewish programming to pastoral care, including one-on-one visits — to now devoting most of it to those staff members fighting the COVID battle but also confronting the many other issues of the day.

A plaque has been placed outside the Julian J. Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home

A plaque has been placed outside the Julian J. Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home to honor those residents of the facility who lost their lives to COVID-19.

“Yes, I was continuing to meet with residents, although they were very frail and very sick, and yes, I was continuing to be in touch with family members, because they were unable to come into the building — I was able to give them a sense of how their loved ones were doing,” she recalled. “But much of the focus shifted to the staff.”

And it has remained there, months after the height of the tragedy, because the need remains — and is significant.

“I was just involved in a conversation with a nurse,” she said while speaking with BusinessWest. “She took me aside and said, ‘now that COVID has passed, many of us are dealing with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. I’m not sure what kind of help we need, but we need some help.’”

She has been providing such help, and in several ways, one of them being help in securing counseling for the many staff members impacted by the crisis.

“It was quite clear, as I was visiting the units and talking to staff, that there was a lot of trauma,” she recalled. “So what I wound up doing, with the help of a lot of great friends in the therapy world, was put together a therapy initiative for our staff. I had a list of about 30 mental-health counselors, trained in trauma and crisis counseling, who made themselves available for phone, Zoom, or otherwise, to be available for up to six hours, for free.

“I started making matches,” she went on, adding that maybe 20-25 staff members took advantage of the program. “Some of these people got sick, so for some of them, it was when they got back and had gone through all they had gone through with their own illness.”

Each day, she would arrive at the facility and ask herself how she could carry out her role, how she could help. And seemingly each day, there was a different answer.

It might be creating a new prayer and inspiration card — one of them says simply, “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” In response to George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement, she held an all-campus moment of silence and urged individuals and the organization as a whole to seek ways to defeat bigotry and racism. In response to an on-campus arson attempt, she spoke up against hate crimes and anti-Semitism. On more than a few occasions, she helped box up the belongings of residents who had died as a result of COVID-19.

While Jacobson’s recollections of the past seven months and thoughts about her work certainly resonate, comments from others about the comfort and support she provided speak volumes about her impact during this time of crisis.

“My only regret was that I could not hold my mother’s hand. Devorah held her hand for me. She let me say goodbye to my mother … she was there to bridge the gap. It is because of Devorah that my journey was so peaceful.”

Halpern forwarded this comment from a family member: “Devorah went in to see my parents every day and she called me every day to give me updates. My only regret was that I could not hold my mother’s hand. Devorah held her hand for me. She let me say goodbye to my mother … she was there to bridge the gap. It is because of Devorah that my journey was so peaceful.”

Halpern also shared an e-mail from Lola White, an LPN and unit manager at the Leavitt Nursing Home, which was sent to her unsolicited. “Throughout this pandemic,” it read, “Devorah has always been there and ready to help in any way she could.

“One day, I was attending to a resident who lost the COVID battle,” it continued. “She immediately asked me, as she always did, if I was OK. Next thing I know, she was suited and booted, by my side, helping me. Before she helped me, I felt defeated. Her acts of compassion for me and every other staff member in the facility made it easier to cope … She set up meals, counselors, and even called and texted staff that were out sick or had a sick family member … I am looking for a way to thank her for everything.”

Needless to say, many people share that sentiment.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Adam Berman, president of JGS Lifecare, announced that Mary-Anne Schelb has rejoined the JGS Lifecare team as director of Business Development for the Western Mass. market.

“We are very happy to announce the return of Mary-Anne Schelb to the JGS Lifecare campus,” Berman said. “Mary-Anne worked with us several years ago as our director of Sales and Community Relations and, in her own words, feels as though she is returning home. Mary-Anne brings a great breadth of experience, knowledge, and understanding of business development, sales, and customer services, as well as a wide range of key community relationships that will support her success in this new and expanded role. We are excited to have her back on our team.”

Prior to returning to JGS Lifecare, Schelb led marketing operations at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Ludlow. In her prior role at JGS Lifecare as director of Sales and Community Relations, she developed strategic partnerships and spearheaded the efforts that succeeded in making Longmeadow a dementia-friendly community. Prior to that, she headed up sales, marketing, and community relations at Monastery Heights Assisted Living in West Springfield.

Schelb is very active in numerous community organizations. She is a Rotarian, a board member of the East of the River Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the West of the River Chamber of Commerce, the Retirement Marketing Directors Assoc., the Western Massachusetts Eldercare Professionals Assoc., the Women Business Owners Alliance, the Western Mass. Elder Care Conference steering committee, and the Tri-County Partnership, just to name a few.

She began her career with an accounting certification from St. John’s School of Business and worked in the mainstream until continuing onto a more wellness-based path as a Holistic Health Practitioner, holding master/teacher certifications from the International Center for Reiki Training. She is also a certified cranial sacral therapist in Profound Neutral from the Neurovascular Institute.

“We are thrilled to have Mary-Anne back,” said Susan Kimball Halpern, vice president of Development and Communications. “Not only is she an expert in her field, but she brings a tremendous rolodex of invaluable relationships and is highly respected by her colleagues and peers for her commitment to excellence and for advancing the well-being of the people she serves. Her positive energy and enthusiasm is not only contagious, but helps drive results.”

COVID-19 Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Over the last few weeks, in a generous show of support, several local organizations and restaurants have initiated fundraising efforts to sponsor Meals of Gratitude for the staff at JGS Lifecare. This outpouring of community support has a double benefit, supporting caregivers while also supporting local restaurants that are struggling due to forced closure of in-house service.

“During this COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are being decimated, and our healthcare workers deserve so much support. These fundraising efforts are really taking care of two important fronts — lifting up our healthcare staff while also supporting our restaurants who are now reliant on take-out service to stay afloat,” said Michael Hurwitz, owner of Pizzeria Uno, who delivered more than 70 pizzas to JGS Lifecare recently, providing meals to all staff on all three shifts. The pizzas were paid for by the Temple Beth El community of donors.

In addition, Rachel’s Table, a program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, sponsored meals from the Kitchen Restaurant and Nathan Bill’s Bar and Grille raised community funds to feed all three shifts assorted sandwiches.

Commitments have been made by the following organizations to raise funds to send future meals to JGS: St. Mary’s Church in coordination with the Kitchen Restaurant, Sinai Temple, Luigi’s Restaurant, and Indian Assoc. of Greater Springfield.

“It is wonderful to know that the community appreciates the work we are doing,” said Beth-Ann Kalinko, CNA at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home and Sosin Center for Rehabilitation. “We take our commitment to care for our residents very seriously. It has been challenging these past several weeks, and knowing the community appreciates our work is an important source of encouragement and support.”

COVID-19 Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Adam Berman, president of JGS Lifecare, issued a statement to update the community regarding COVID-19, which has infected 29 residents of Leavitt Family Jewish Home.

“JGS Lifecare is committed to doing everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our residents and staff,” he said. “We strictly maintain and follow effective infection control procedures as mandated by state and federal regulations and have made many additional changes, including institutng a no-visitor policy to reduce the risk of infection.

“Up until early this week, we had a few isolated cases in which residents and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the Jewish Nursing Home. In all cases, we took aggressive steps to quarantine anyone with close contact. Residents who tested positive were transferred to an isolation unit and cared for by a separate and dedicated care team. Staff members with symptoms were asked to remain at home and self-quarantine.

“Beginning this week, we proactively began the process of testing our residents throughout the facility. Late last night and early this morning, we were notified by the lab that we have 29 residents in our facility who tested positive with COVID-19. Some are experiencing only mild symptoms, and many more are stable and showing signs of recovery.

“We are working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Longmeadow Fire Department, and other local authorities to take all possible actions to protect our residents, staff, and community. Any resident with a confirmed case of COVID-19 is being moved into our isolation unit and treated by a designated COVID care team. We will also continue to perform tests on all our residents until we feel confident we have firm control of the situation.

“To help our clinical staff remain focused on taking care of our residents, we have created a robust communications team. This team has been directly contacting the families of all our residents several times a week to keep them informed. To protect resident confidentiality, we are only able to speak to designated family members and have asked them to more broadly communicate with other interested parties if appropriate.

“We understand that this is a stressful time for everyone,” Berman concluded. “We will continue to work hard to serve our mission of providing the best-quality care for our residents and full support for all our families.”

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Thanks to a generous donation from the Perlman family, owners of Ocean State Job Lots, the staff at JGS Lifecare were treated to free groceries in an expression of gratitude for their commitment to the care of our frail elders, especially in these unprecedented times.

Over the course of the past few days, all JGS Lifecare employees have been invited to stop in a temporary grocery store and farmers’ market located in the Nirenberg Administration Building and its adjacent parking lot, on the JGS Lifecare campus. Each staff member filled three bags of dry goods and two bags of fresh produce to take home to their families. Staff selected from tall displays of peanuts, peanut butter, chicken broth, stuffing, turkey gravy, sweet and spicy baked beans, canned pineapple, and boxes loaded with organic lettuces and tomatoes, tangerines, bananas, avocados, zucchini, apples, grapes, grapefruit, asparagus, potatoes, and onions.

Ellie Riberio, a nurse at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home for four years, said that, “when I got the text last night that JGS was giving us five bags of groceries, I was in shock. I so much appreciate it. It helps me and my family out tremendously. The staff here has been wonderful throughout this ordeal that we’re going through. I cannot express how grateful I am for all that they’re doing to help us.”

“Our staff is remarkable,” added Adam Berman, president of JGS Lifecare. “They come to work each and every day to care for our most vulnerable seniors, many leaving their children at home with the additional costs of child care. Their kids are snacking all day, so we know that this free food will be of great benefit to them, and it is a wonderful way for us to express our appreciation for all that they are doing for our residents. We are continually seeking ways to show our gratitude and support during these trying times. We are indebted to the Perlman family for making this possible.”

COVID-19 Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Caleb Poirier, an LPN who spends his evenings caring for frail elders at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home at JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow, is a consummate team member — in more than one way.

After serving in Afghanistan, Poirier continued his military commitment in the U.S. Army Reserves. With his unit, he has been called to duty to support the medical teams in New York during the COVID-19 crisis. Once again, he is on the front lines in support of our country.

“Caleb has compassion, kindness, excellent attention to detail, and a quirky sense of humor, four qualities that are imperative as a nurse,” said Shannon Wesson, director of Nursing at JGS Lifecare. “He will be an amazing asset to his team.”

Wesson called Poirier “a true healthcare hero, as are all the others in healthcare who report to work daily and care for our sick and frail. We will welcome him back home post-deployment and celebrate his dedication, when we can all be together post-COVID-19.”

JGS Lifecare joins the local community in thanking Poirier and many other healthcare heroes for caring for the sick and frail at their greatest time of need, and wishes him and his unit safe travels and a safe return home.

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