‘People here care’ at Lantern Hill

Residents praise Lantern Hill for swift and caring action during COVID-19 crisis

Created date

May 5th, 2020
Fitness Coordinator Melissa Sullivan has created more than 20 fitness videos for residents to do in their apartment homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fitness Coordinator Melissa Sullivan has created more than 20 fitness videos for residents to do in their apartment homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Erickson Living communities respond to COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded nationally, Erickson Living, and all of its local communities, have worked tirelessly to put their resident's health, safety, and comfort above all else. At Lantern Hill in New Providence, New Jersey, residents have found solace in the care provided by the staff on campus as the country continues to grapple with COVID-19.

Adjusting to a new normal at Lantern Hill   

“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 said from her apartment home at the New Providence, N.J., retirement community on April 7. 

The community has taken aggressive measures to keep its 400 residents safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Residents were urged to shelter in place in their apartment homes, and the community restricted visitors, vigilantly screened staff, and quickly developed a plan of action and care.

That plan included 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 a real lifeline for 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 members 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 Kristallnacht. “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’m making it, and I think we’re going to get through.” 

Lynn, a cancer survivor, has chosen not to take the risk of going outside her apartment, but she and her husband do wave at neighbors and staff from their balcony. 

“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.” 


If you're interested in learning more about Lantern Hill, request a free brochure here or learn more about other Erickson Living-managed communities.