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Appreciating Staff in the Wake of COVID-19

Heroes looked a bit different during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Havenwood Heritage Heights (HHH), a continuing care retirement community in Concord, New Hampshire, they wore masks, not capes. They also followed stringent sanitizing routines, agreed to regular COVID-19 testing, worked extra shifts, and, perhaps most importantly, provided residents with comfort when life felt scary and uncertain. Of course, the heroes we are talking about are HHH staff members.  

Declaration of Appreciation to Staff and Administration from Havenwood Heritage Heights on Vimeo.

“They brought me something called humanness. I was able to feel like there was a real world still out there,” a resident said this May at the Staff and Administration Employee Tribute Presentation Ceremony. 

During the ceremony, the HHH Resident Associations presented a Declaration of Appreciation—a framed tribute thanking staff and administration for their tireless work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each HHH campus will later be presented with a permanent declaration for display. Staff and administration employees will also be presented with their own personal declarations. 

“You kept us healthy in body and spirit,” the declaration reads. “You successfully navigated the dual challenge of maintaining public health protocols both at work and at home.” 

Resident Association Representatives Ken Henderson and Louise Dartnell chaired the afternoon’s events and worked collaboratively with a committee of residents to plan the gatherings. “It’s a challenge for those in the staff to always put other people first, and I think that’s what we realized,” Dartnell said. “They were putting us first.”

It is no secret that COVID-19 strained senior living communities. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, since the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global pandemic last March, nearly 200,000 residents and staff of long-term care communities across the country have lost their lives to the virus. Recognizing the severity of the pandemic last spring, HHH quickly developed and implemented new protocols to keep residents safe. Fortunately, those who followed these guidelines stayed healthy. 

Lisa Henderson, executive director of LeadingAge Maine and New Hampshire, credits HHH’s successful navigation of this unprecedented pandemic to teamwork. “When you build an organizational culture that values teamwork, you can weather tough times,” she said.

Though the storm clouds now seem to be receding, President and CEO Michael Palmieri is maintaining a proactive stance. For instance, during a recent COVID-19 update video, Palmieri advised residents to continue social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands as the new Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads in New Hampshire. He also bridged the topic of flu season—another challenge come fall. 

Of course, Palmieri has also paused to reflect on the past 15 months. At the tribute ceremony, he took the time to celebrate his team’s hard work as well as his gratitude for the residents. 

“This is a history-making moment in our organization. We’ve been open for 54 years and today is something that we’ve never experienced before—a resident made a special tribute to us,” he said. “Today, what we’ve seen is the residents taking care of us.” 

To learn more about Havenwood Heritage Heights and our team of skilled, dedicated professionals, contact us today!

By Mike Wall