Parkville, Maryland--When Barbara Zorn moved to Oak Crest in 2010 from Harford County, one of the things that attracted her to the Parkville, Md., community was the active lifestyle offered. The second thing was the peace of mind that comes from living at an Erickson Living-managed community. This spring, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbara is more confident than ever that she's made the right decision.
"Everyone from the top to the bottom is handling the crisis wonderfully," says Barbara. "The staff provides daily updates of what was going on in each department, from dining and general services to the medical center, etc. Every one of them takes on a different job from what they normally do and they all pitch in to do whatever is needed to be done."
Before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the U.S., Erickson Living enacted its emergency preparedness plan and assembled a task force of individuals across the enterprise.
"All across our family of communities, residents and staff are taking extraordinary steps to protect the health and safety of our loved ones, friends, neighbors, and caregivers," wrote Alan Butler, Erickson Living's chief executive officer, in a letter to the enterprise's 27,000 residents and 14,000 employees. "I am confident that we will look back on this unprecedented health event and be proud of how well we cared for each other."
At the ready
To comply with Governor Hogan's stay at home guidance, residents are asked to remain in their apartments while hundreds of staff members assume roles outside of their typical scope of work to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of the more than 2,000 residents like Barbara who call Oak Crest home.
With seven on-site restaurants, dining with friends is at the heart of the Oak Crest community. But to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Oak Crest instituted its own version of Grubhub, preparing and delivering daily meals to more than 2,000 resident's doorsteps, along with heating instructions and a phone number to call with questions.
Breakfast and lunch items are also provided, along with snacks. A concierge service has been put in place to deliver groceries, prescriptions, newspapers, packages, and other items to resident's doorsteps.
"The food is amazing—entrées, veggies, snacks, fresh fruit, granola bars, cereal, oatmeal, and dessert—and it is all delivered to my door," says Barbara. "I didn't have to do a thing. The dining staff is going above and beyond."
Oak Crest residents enjoy significant advantages over those who were isolated at home. At a time when millions of American seniors are particularly concerned about their well-being, Oak Crest residents like Barbara take solace in a wide range of opportunities to remain personally engaged while safeguarding their personal health.
The in-house television station Channel 973 airs live call-in shows with Executive Director Mark Roussey and other community leaders, as well as staff-led fitness classes, faith services, streaming educational lectures, concerts, and movies. Updates regarding COVID-19 and community information air several times daily.
Attitude of gratitude
Throughout the crisis, Barbara uses technology to stay in touch with her two daughters who live nearby in Bel Air, Md. Other residents and their families take to social media to connect and post messages of thanks and encouragement.
An Oak Crest resident named Judy wrote on Oak Crest's Facebook page: "Again Oak Crest continues to amaze me. Thank you everyone who works here in every position; you are all going above the call of duty!"
George W. posted the following message: "Oak Crest and Erickson Living have done an outstanding job dealing with the coronavirus situation, especially dining services. They stopped the entire facility on a dime and redirected in a new direction dictated by matters out of their control. Job well done!"
An Oak Crest family member named Kimberly wrote: "You all are amazing! My parents are there, and we know they are being taken care of!"
The COVID-19 task force meets multiple times each day to review the latest reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), local health departments, and local governments and enacted new protocols as necessary.
Some of those protocols included screening all employees and essential visitors with a series of questions and temperature checks before access to the community was granted. Personal deliveries of groceries and other parcels are dropped off at the main entrance rather than the resident's clubhouse and were then delivered to each apartment. And the concierge program was enhanced to include delivery of U.S. mail, as well as complimentary dog-walking services.
"The staff has been fantastic. From our Executive Director Mark Roussey on down," says Barbara. "Everyone gave up doing their regular jobs and pitched in to help in any way they could. It's wonderful knowing that I live in a place where I'm surrounded by good friends and a staff that cares about you like family. It's just a wonderful place to live."
About Oak Crest: Oak Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®,is situated on a scenic 87-acre campus in Parkville, Maryland. The not-for-profit community of more than 2,100 residents and 1,250 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Oak Crest. Additional information can be found at OakCrestCommunity.com.