Has there ever been a more welcome springtime than this one? We’re emerging not just from winter, but carefully recovering from a dangerous and deadly pandemic. And nowhere are the signs of renewal more visible and more necessary among the older Americans we serve than at Brandermill Woods Community, Independent Living, The Haven, The Chesterfield, and Holly Inn. Over the last 12 months, older Americans have felt the brunt of this pandemic, not just in terms of illness and lives lost, but in the continued isolation so many residents felt.
Most welcome is the renewal of relationships between family and friends long disrupted by COVID-19. At a time of year traditionally associated with hope, we’ve seen immense progress in vaccinations of residents and staff that have allowed them to re-emerge from COVID-19 isolation and reunite family and friends whose only previous contact had been by phone or video conference.
This shows the progress we can make together when we prioritize our long-term care system. The drive to put nursing home residents and staff at the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccinations has been a game-changer. The number of nursing home deaths has rapidly declined, and thankfully, here in Brandermill Woods, we have been able to resume some visitation in The Haven, The Chesterfield, and Holly Inn Memory Care. We are awaiting Federal and State approval and are preparing to allow in-room visits for our residents as soon as it’s safe. Independent Living Community welcomes visitors with some restrictions. That’s the lesson of the last 12 months. When we prioritize the lives of older Americans, we can make real progress. When we fail to do so – when we fail to provide adequate protective equipment and testing, when we fail to halt community spread of a virus that exacts a cruel toll on older residents, when we fail to invest in long-term care – then older Americans and their families pay an unacceptable price.
We are immensely grateful for the expressions of support for our staff and other health care workers during this long crisis. I work with heroes every day. And the best way to honor their efforts is to keep working to beat this virus.
Vaccinations offer the same game-changing potential for the general public that they have been for long-term care communities. But until a large share of the general public is vaccinated, COVID-19 will continue to be a risk – and the older people among us will continue to be at greatest risk as variants take hold.
I am surely grateful for the return of the spring season. And I am grateful for the immense effort our staff has made over the last year, coping with a deadly pandemic and working to keep the folks we care for connected to the people they love. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming this springtime thaw, celebrating the reunions taking place in our community and across the country, and show your thanks to the long-term care staff who have made it possible.