To: The Chelsea family
Fr: Herb Heflich, Chief Executive Officer
Roger Bernier, President and Chief Operating Officer
After more than two months of quarantine, things appear to have leveled-off at Chelsea Senior Living communities. While the Coronavirus will certainly be with us until a vaccine is formulated, we’ve learned a lot about keeping our residents and staff as safe as possible from a virus that has proved to be vicious.
We have heard your concerns about residents being cooped up in their apartments non-stop for more than 60 days. While our number-one priority is keeping our residents and staff safe from disease, we are hoping to adjust some of our protocols to allow for limited movement of residents and short-term outings from their apartments. We are currently consulting with our regulators on the best way to do that while maintaining social distancing and using personal protective gear such as face masks.
We have received numerous inquiries from prospective residents and families about future availability of accommodations. We are resuming a limited marketing campaign to let the world know our communities want to hear from them and are taking calls and requests for virtual tours. However, we are not at the point of reopening our buildings to tours and visitors. This determination will ultimately be made by the New Jersey and New York Departments of Health.
In the early days of the pandemic, we recognized the threat to our residents and staff and immediately began locating and purchasing thousands of face masks, gloves, face shields and gowns. Because of long-time relationships with reliable vendors and our centralized distribution system, we were able to quickly outfit all of our buildings with enough PPE. As the demand for commercially available hand sanitizer skyrocketed, we made our own using a mixture of 70% isopropyl alcohol and aloe gel under the supervision of our regional nurses. Tests, however, were harder to come by and it took several more weeks to get adequate testing to our communities. We now have it. This month, the NJ Department of Health has ordered testing for every resident and employee of every nursing home and assisted living statewide. The NY Department of Health has ordered every employee to be tested twice a week. We are implementing these new mandates over the next two weeks.
We have joined our families in mourning the loss of some of our residents and one employee across our 22 buildings. Every passing is painful. These men and women are, in many cases, friends who have become like our own family. It is a fact of life that life eventually ends, but the Coronavirus has hastened this reality for the most vulnerable among us. Adding to the pain has been our inability to properly mourn these losses due to social distancing requirements. We hope, at some point in the not-too-distant future, to be able to memorialize all those who died during the pandemic.
We are disappointed that news reports and government officials have chosen to focus on the very few stories of incompetence and negligence at a tiny number of substandard long-term care facilities and lumped us all together into that pot. We believe our families know the truth about the kindness, caring and attention to detail that goes on at Chelsea Senior Living residences.
We have been overwhelmed by the resiliency and patience of our residents and families and the bravery and dedication of our employees during the past two months. “Thank you” doesn’t seem to quite do it. Our gratitude has no bounds. Please continue to be safe.
Herb and Roger
May 18, 2020