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Residents of GreenFields of Geneva are accustomed to wining and dining in the finest style. The senior living community’s five-star quality restaurant offers exceptional cuisine served in a lovely setting by a friendly staff they know by name.
But current times have changed things a bit for both residents and staff. In accord with mandated safety measures amidst COVID-19, dining personnel began bringing food and beverage to individual apartments. “Room service” ensured consistently received all the fresh, savory fare that defines GreenFields – on time, made to order and delivered personally.
Nineteen-year-old Abby King of Elburn has worked in dining at GreenFields for three years. She recalled how the department developed a new meal system in a short amount of time at the beginning of the shelter-in-place order. Because of the changes, Abby’s shift went from part-time, to as many as 40-45 hours per week. As a full-time student at Waubonsee Community College, she said the additional hours initially intimidated her. “But I quickly realized it was a gift to be able to continue to serve and provide whatever I can to the residents and my coworkers. The increased teamwork by my coworkers was very honestly inspiring. Many of us were overwhelmed, scared, and completely out of our element, but we’ve really given our all to make sure that a different type of service should never mean lesser quality.”
During the time in which the residents were remaining within their apartments and all meals were delivered, Abbey was primarily boxing and double-checking orders. Now, residents in independent living are able to come down and pick up their meals. “Because COVID has placed literal distance between resident and server, when residents come down to the bistro to pick up their meal, there is typically immense excitement on both sides of the interaction. It is great to see residents that you haven’t seen in a while. They will often ask about our lives and how they’ve changed. We ask them about what they’ve been doing. That’s always something I always look forward to learning,” she said.
Karen Verchota of Geneva has worked in dining services at GreenFields since 2012. “I really enjoy working with seniors. It is so satisfying to me that I can put smiles on their faces. During this pandemic, it’s been a lot more challenging with residents staying safe within their rooms,” she said.
While the restaurants in independent living at GreenFields are opening slowly for on-site dining, assisted living, memory care, and skilled care residents are still being served within their apartments. “When we bring their meals, they are so happy to see us, and they want to talk and keep us as long as possible,” said Karen. “It certainly makes me happy to give that extra attention. The residents always thank me, and I tell them it’s my pleasure, and I wish I could spend more time with them.”
“I am always so proud of our team and have been especially so during this unprecedented time. In dining, as well as in all of our departments, everyone has risen to all of the new challenges we’ve faced in making sure that we provide great care and attention to our residents,” said Tony Madl, executive director at GreenFields.