Keeping Lantern Hill Residents Healthy and Engaged during COVID-19 Situation

Innovative changes for extraordinary times

In challenging times, we pull together to care for each other. This has become the motto at Erickson Living-managed communities across the country, as staff and residents have found innovative ways to stay safe, healthy, and connected during the COVID-19 crisis.

Lantern Hill, an Erickson Living developed and managed senior living community in New Providence, NJ,  has made a number of important changes, asking employees across the enterprise to take on responsibilities outside their assigned role. Lantern Hill has arranged for meals, mail, and packages to be delivered to every apartment home. A concierge service is delivering essential items such as toiletries and other odds and ends from the on-site market.

“I feel that Lantern Hill and Erickson Living are taking heroic measures to keep us safe and as comfortable as they can. They are going above and beyond,” Lynn O’Neill says.

The community is taking aggressive measures to keep its residents safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Residents are urged to shelter in place in their apartment homes, and the community has restricted visitors and vigilantly screens staff.

That plan includes televised and streamed fitness classes with Fitness Coordinator Melissa Sullivan. Her videos have been a welcome reprieve for many during the shelter-in-place directive.

Full-time fitness

“At the time that we had to close our doors, 60% of the residents attended one or more of the 30 fitness activities a week. I did not want them to stop working on their fitness,” says Sullivan, who taught group fitness classes in Union County for 15 years before joining the team at Lantern Hill.

Realizing she needed to bring fitness into community members’ homes from a distance, she tapped into her background in TV and radio with a format of short videos that focus on one aspect of fitness at a time.

In less than a month, she and Concierge Brandi Zabransky, who edits and publishes the short films, created a collection of 20 videos that run continuously throughout the day on Lantern Hill’s community TV channel. The videos are also available on the My Erickson app under “Community Videos.”

What’s more, Sullivan says many of her fitness vendors have sent videos created from their homes as well to add to the collection.

“I believe that continuing to work on their fitness and seeing a familiar face every day has been beneficial to our residents,” she says. “It has helped to build a sense of community.”

Lynn watches the videos daily and says she appreciates the effort.

“I’m very impressed and relieved that things are going as well as they are,” Lynn says.

Tremendous support

Aside from the fitness videos, Lynn also appreciates the televised updates each weekday on the Lantern Hill TV channel. Staff answer questions from residents who called into the community hotline the day before.

“They’ve been honest with us and have handled this all very well,” Lynn says.

“They’re really trying very hard to maintain a good relationship with the people who live here,” says Ruth Milgram, who has enjoyed listening to books on her Alexa, watching television, reading, and making phone calls.

Ruth lived in Germany as a child from 1930 to 1939 and escaped to the U.S. just five months before Kristalnacht. “I’ve lived through some difficult times,” she says.

Of the current crisis, “It’s tough,” she admits, “but I have so many things to do and so many people to talk to on the phone. We have food delivered, and we have a choice of four or five things. My children have been wonderful.”

“I thank God I’m at Lantern Hill,” Lynn says. “I can’t imagine trying to feed [my husband and me] right now. We get emails and phone calls from staff every day. I would not have had this kind of support had I been at my house down the street. People here care, and they’re giving us tremendous moral support.”

To learn more about Lantern Hill’s commitment to senior health and wellness, please visit our website at LanternHillCommunity.com.

About Lantern Hill: Lantern Hill, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 26-acre campus in New Providence, New Jersey. The not-for-profit community of more than 390 residents and 300 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Additional information about Lantern Hill can be found at LanternHillCommunity.com.

Written by Julia Collins