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In an industry that is being besieged by negative news reports of COVID-19 cases gone awry, Friendship Senior Options (FSO) communities have kept the occurrence of coronavirus to impressively low numbers. This is especially the case in comparison to the numbers of cases for the same age groups in the community’s geographical area. Friendship Senior Options' senior living communities are Friendship Village in Schaumburg, and GreenFields of Geneva. Less than 2.3% of Friendship Village residents have tested positive for COVID-19. The percentage for the same age group within the greater Schaumburg area is almost three times that number. Less than .4% of residents have tested positive at GreenFields. The percentage for the same age group within the greater Geneva area is more than ten times that number.
"The safety, health, and general well-being of our residents and our associates are of the utmost importance to us," said Jill Steco, lifestyles director for Friendship Village. "That's certainly more challenging right now, but it's also imperative and a top priority."
Since early on in the COVID-19 crisis, access to the communities' buildings has been limited to essential staff and vendors. Even with the restriction of visitors in place, there have been additional heightened precautions taken routinely. All staff and approved contractors are screened at a single entrance into the buildings. Their temperatures are taken, and a health questionnaire must be completed before anyone is allowed to proceed. This happens for every individual, every time they enter. Any staff working in one of the campus's licensed areas, including Willows, Assisted Living, Reflections Memory Support, or Briarwood Healthcare Center, are given mid-shift temperature checks as well. Anyone with an elevated temperature or having had exposure to someone who has tested positive for the virus is sent home. "While management volunteered as screeners at the start of the crisis, we've gradually integrated temporary staff, trained to handle the procedures," said Josh Flaim, director of human resources for FSO. The communities have also had several rounds of staff testing.
While the restriction of visitors has been and continues to be very difficult for residents who miss their loved ones outside of the community, it has been instrumental in keeping them safe. Staff, in the meantime, is working out creative ways for the residents to stay in touch with their families, virtually, through windows, and outdoors.
"We don't feel like we're anywhere close to being out of the woods with this virus and so we're not letting down our guard," said Jill. As COVID-19 continues to be an important health issue this fall, seniors living in their homes outside of our retirement communities will continue to be at enhanced risk for contracting the illness. "It's difficult, if not impossible, to carry out everyday responsibilities, including trips to the grocery store or pharmacy where they're exposed to so many people. Even home maintenance and repair causes increased and perhaps unsafe encounters. At our communities, residents have meal service, housekeeping, an in-house pharmacy, access to medical care, security and maintenance, and an absence of the burden of homeownership. Residents can venture out, but many feel safe not needing to."
In addition to the physical well-being, the team at Friendship Village and GreenFields are very focused on maintaining the residents' social and emotional health. "While the activities calendars at our communities look different than they did before the health crisis, they're still full and engaging. Our creative and innovative teams are successfully providing opportunities for the residents to stay busy and engaged. We have programming on our in-house tv station from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, including exercise classes, games, movies, continuing education initiatives, virtual visits, and so much more," said Jill. "Our diligent mitigation procedures, our abundant amenities, and the many opportunities for engagement provide for our residents' holistic well-being during a very difficult time."