tIMELY UPDATES ON covid-19
July 13, 2020 -- A Moment of Reflection
It’s been more than four months since COVID-19 turned our world upside down. Although it is not over yet, and many parts of our country and the world are still suffering from this crisis, today we are wiser and stronger. Our senior care sector across the globe is being tested to assure our Elders and care workers remain cared for and protected. Unfortunately, thousands of elders and care workers worldwide continue to be victims of this silent killer. Parker Health Group, Inc. President & CEO, Roberto Muñiz, recently took pause alongside LeadingAge’s Global Ageing Network, during a Day of Remembrance, to recognize the many elders and care workers who lost their lives to COVID-19. The reflection he shared applies today and in the coming months as we work toward a new norm - may we not forget.
Read his remarks here.
June 29, 2020 -- An Update on Family Visitation
As of June 26th, we are very happy to welcome back family members to visit their loved ones in the designated outdoor areas of our homes. In accordance with the regulatory requirement set forth by the NJ Department of Health Executive Directive, Parker has established outdoor visitation guidelines to ensure the safety of our residents, staff and visitors. Before visiting, family members are asked to call their loved one’s home for more information and to set an appointment. They may also set an appointment by using the Visitation App link that was provided to them by each home’s administrator.
June 5, 2020 -- A Message from Parker President & CEO Roberto Muñiz about COVID-19
For over 112 years, Parker has served the world's most vulnerable populations. I am pleased with how Parker has managed implementing new protocols and procedures during this difficult time. Yet, while we have done everything possible to quickly respond to this crisis with a singular focus to achieve our goals of reducing the infection rate and taking the necessary steps toward recovery, we are not alone. We are among the many strong long-term care organizations who have stepped up to this challenge. Some media outlets paint a distressing view of life in long-term care during the pandemic. But, this video gives you a different point of view, of special moments that we experience each day.
Three weeks ago, the NJDOH issued an Executive Directive which requires residents and staff of all nursing homes and assisted living communities to undergo COVID-19 testing by the end of the May. We have fully complied with and completed all the testing requirements and I am pleased that only a few employees and residents, all of whom were not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, tested positive. Residents and staff who previously tested positive for the virus and recovered, tested negative. Parker will continue to test our employees on a weekly basis until further notice. Our residents who tested positive continue being cared for in the Isolation Units that we have established in our nursing homes. Employees who tested positive are quarantined in their homes and under the care of their doctors. We are checking in with them daily and monitoring symptoms and recovery.
We have just started to receive guidance and direction from federal and state government agencies regarding the mandates for lifting restrictions and reopening all long-term care communities in New Jersey. We are working through those details and awaiting additional guidance on the timing for a phased reopening approach. While we don’t have all the answers yet, we are staying in close contact with government officials for their requirements and recommendations. We will update you as soon as the plan is determined.
Meanwhile, as the weather improves, we may especially want life to return to “normal.” However, we must remain vigilant and continue to follow guidelines and protocols mandated by the state as well as continue to make decisions that put the health and safety of our residents first.
While visitation restrictions have not yet been lifted by the New Jersey Department of Health, Parker has taken steps to develop ways for family members to see and speak with their loved ones living in our homes while adhering to the social distancing guidelines that protect residents, staff and visitors. I want to share some of the activities and highlights from our homes with you.
Two weeks ago, Parker at Monroe’s Recreation team recognized National Nursing Home Week with a Hula Hoop Contest, danced to the Twist, and shared twisted pretzels and lemon lime twist sodas with all care partners. Residents enjoyed ice cream cart deliveries and a cocktail party at the end of the week, complete with cheese and crackers, grapes, apples, and cupcakes. The grandchildren of one of our elders made cards for all our care partners and residents. Last week, one of our residents celebrated his birthday with his family via a window visit. It’s so great to see that life’s milestones can still be enjoyed.
At Parker at River Road, another one of our families was able to take advantage of window visits to celebrate their loved one’s birthday. The River Road team sang “Happy Birthday” as family members joined in from outside. Here is a photo of another Parker at River Road resident who used FaceTime to share his love for gardening with his wife.
As the COVID-19 situation continues, Parker at Stonegate assisted living residents are increasingly asking for assistance with shopping and due to high demand and long wait periods, online shopping is no longer an option. Two former Rutgers students of mine, Jonathan and Angelique, volunteered to shop for our residents on a weekly basis. We are so grateful for their assistance!
The weekend’s beautiful weather motivated some Stonegate residents to participate in recreational activities outside. With the help of Lee Shahay, Parker’s horticulturalist, our gardening enthusiasts created a display titled “A Patriotic Victory Garden,” in honor of Memorial Day.
I also want to thank our families for the support that they have shown us over the last three months. We have received many beautiful letters and emails from our families, as well as gifts for the staff who work in our homes. These letters and gifts have lifted the spirits of our staff, who are working selflessly to protect and care for the people we serve. Thank you for your support. It is greatly appreciated.
Stay healthy and safe!
President & CEO
Parker Health Group, Inc.
May 15, 2020 -- A Message from Parker President & CEO Roberto Muñiz about COVID-19
I am happy to report that I see signs of recovery at all our Parker communities, as well as within the state of New Jersey with the COVID-19 pandemic. I am hopeful that we are entering the decline phase of the virus, and although I am optimistic that this downward trend will continue, we are prudently maintaining extreme precautionary measures in our homes as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).
Earlier this week, the NJDOH issued an Executive Directive which requires residents and staff of all Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Communities to undergo COVID-19 testing by May 26, 2020. In addition, individuals who test negative will be retested within 3-7 days after this first baseline test. We are awaiting final guidance and procedures from the NJDOH as we are in the planning stages on how to implement this new mandate. We will communicate our plans with you in our next webpage update.
In my latest blog post, I wrote about my dismay over the small number of New Jersey nursing homes that mishandled their response to COVID-19. This led to a wake-up call for State and Federal government regulators who must assess the needs of our industry and ensure that adequate funding is available for providers. You can read my blog post here.
In general, I am very pleased with how Parker has handled this outbreak. We have done everything possible to swiftly respond to this pandemic with a singular focus to reduce the infection rate and begin the necessary steps toward recovery.
Although we have not relaxed the rules in our homes and residents are still not mingling and have not returned to communal dining or large group activities, our residents are doing quite well and enjoying the usual recreational activities in a socially-distant way. Just like for many of us, the highlight of their day is communicating with their loved ones via Skype, FaceTime or Zoom. We have been celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day with our usual fanfare.
This week, we also recognized National Skilled Nursing Care Center Week across our nursing homes. I consider all our staff members to be heroes during this challenging time and I am extremely proud of them. They are as committed to those we serve as they are to their own families. Together, they ensure that our nursing homes are safe, provide excellent services, person-directed care, promote socialization and a comfortable family atmosphere so that residents can enjoy life to the best of their abilities.
The team at Parker at River Road had a great deal of fun making a video with staff and residents, titled Dancing Our Way Through COVID-19. Even with social distancing, we find many ways to engage with residents in a joyful way.
At Parker at Somerset, we celebrated National Nurses Week with a “mobile” game show. The game show included questions about PPE safety. We also recognized our amazing nurses. I think you would agree that they are doing a wonderful job keeping our elders safe and healthy.
Parker at Landing Lane celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a fiesta parade, which included a nachos and margarita cart. Staff dressed up in their Cinco de Mayo best and entertained our Elders with Mexican dances throughout the home. I know our residents and staff enjoyed the fun festivities.
Residents of Parker at Stonegate celebrated Cinco de Mayo with mango margaritas (available with and without tequila), nachos and salsa and the Macarena. You can view some of the fun festivities that took place (while safely social distancing) in this video. I hope you enjoy it.
At Parker at Monroe, our staff held a crazy hat day which brought many smiles from our Elders. We delivered novelty ice cream door to door in each small home.
I know how extremely challenging it is for our family members not to be able to visit our homes. As the weeks go on, I understand how this can become even more difficult. Please know that the steps we have taken to social distance are working and I am very optimistic. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support, letters of appreciation and gifts in recognition of the amazing job our staff is doing during these trying times. I am very proud of our staff, who come to work each day, dedicated to the health and welfare of our residents. I am in awe of their selflessness and loyalty each and every day.
Stay healthy and safe!
May 4, 2020 -- A Message from Parker President & CEO Roberto Muñiz about COVID-19
Spring is a time of renewal – but this year it applies not only to the return of greenery in our environment; it also applies to hope. We are pleased to see some of our residents recovering from the virus and out of strict isolation, back in their rooms. This is a momentous event, not just for the residents but for staff and family members. We are awed by their resilience and it brings us hope.
Although we have begun to see signs that we may be entering the decline phase of the virus, we will continue to maintain extreme precautionary measures in our homes. All neighborhoods are self-contained. Residents remain in their rooms with no co-mingling, communal dining or group activities. All staff are wearing N95 masks and gloves when providing care. Staff continue to be screened and monitored closely and temperatures are being taken prior to the start and end of their shifts.
Please be reassured, we are strictly following all up-to-date guidelines and protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and the New Jersey Department of Health to protect residents and staff, with any recommended changes enacted instantly. We are being transparent in reporting any cases of COVID-19 to local, county and state authorities, as required.
All our homes are such tight knit groups and we have built relationships with many of the family members and friends of our residents. This past week, we have experienced the support of our family members, time and time again, and it means the world to us. Thank you for the heartfelt notes of encouragement, signs and placards, and gifts of encouragement.
At Parker at Somerset, a mystery gift appeared on our lawn this week, this beautiful Heroes at Work sign. Thank you to whoever thought of this wonderful gesture in honor of our staff. It has brought tears and smiles to their faces.
This week at Parker at Landing Lane to our surprise, we observed a family member whose wife is a resident with us, in our rear parking lot with a sign thanking our staff. He waited for the shift change so that all staff members would see him. It was a very touching moment for the staff, who miss interactions with the friends and family members of each resident.
Residents of Parker at Stonegate were able to head outdoors, while still adhering to social distancing guidelines. The sunshine was a great spirit booster. Our residents also celebrated Hawaiian Week. They learned the hula, created masks that were displayed outside their suites and learned some fun facts about Hawaii. Most importantly, the “Happiness Cart” served pina coladas and grilled pineapple on skewers to the delight of all residents. We all learned the meaning of the word “kapuna,” a Hawaiian word that translates into honored elder, the embodiment of natural respect which supports the Eden Alternative philosophy of honoring residents.
At Parker at Monroe, the NJ State Police showed their support of our staff with a donation of PPE, food and beverages that they collected from various organizations through the Troopers United Foundation. The lead State Trooper on the project explained they are “selective” with the facilities they chose to bless with this donation. We are honored to be so highly regarded by our law enforcement. In fact, recently Monroe Township fire, police and EMTs came to Parker at Monroe to give a “shout out” to all employees for their dedication. They circled the building with lights, sirens and honking. It was a very uplifting moment for our staff.
I know how extremely challenging it is for our family members not to be able to visit our homes. As the weeks go on, I understand how this can become even more difficult. Please know that the steps we have taken to social distance are working and I am very optimistic. I am also very proud of our staff, who come to work each day, dedicated to the health and welfare of our residents. I am in awe of their selflessness and loyalty each and every day.
Stay healthy and safe!
President and CEO
April 27, 2020 -- A Message from Parker President & CEO Roberto Muñiz about COVID-19
Like many of you, I have been spending much of my days with an ear towards the news. We still have a long way to go, but I am optimistic that we will prevail and soon see the signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This past week, I was deeply saddened by news coverage which has been focused on the few nursing homes that are mishandling their response to the pandemic. These incidents have been a wake-up call in the industry of long-term care. All aging services communities have a moral obligation not only to provide the best care possible to residents, but to communicate with residents and family members, and reach out to state and local authorities when the need arises.
Since the beginning of this outbreak, we have carefully monitored operations throughout our homes across five municipalities, proactively speaking with mayors, county and state officials about our status with COVID-19. More importantly, we have communicated the number of positive coronavirus cases to our residents, their families, and our staff as needed and on an ongoing weekly basis. We established COVID-19 isolation units within our homes, ensured that our staff had access to all the proper PPE they needed, enacted rapid emergency protocols, and launched a process of deep sanitizing all of our homes. We are fortunate that the people we serve already reside in various small homes and neighborhoods, allowing us to tightly control all access points.
Like most of the nation’s nursing homes, over the past month, we have experienced a number of positive COVID cases in both residents and staff and regrettably, we did lose several residents to this virus. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those residents.
I know that Parker has done everything possible to swiftly respond to this crisis with a singular focus to reduce the infection rate and begin the necessary steps toward recovery.
I am happy to report that a great number of residents and staff members fully recovered from the virus, a milestone that required cooperation, coordination and leadership. I am proud of all the health care professionals in each of our homes, who truly embrace the trust that the public has placed in Parker. They navigated the many daily challenges of the pandemic to ensure the safety of all residents, while providing them with interaction and engagement.
We've been receiving photos and descriptions from the staff in all of our homes about milestone celebrations, holiday dinners, video calls, and fun activities that our residents have enjoyed, even during this challenging time. I find these photos and descriptions encouraging - I believe that people can overcome any challenge with hope and prayer. This past week, one of our Recreation Coordinators, Lyndsey Lotrario, compiled this heartwarming video
with River Road staff and residents. I hope you enjoy it.
During this crisis, I witnessed the enormous dedication of our staff and leadership, who truly are heroes. They selflessly give their all to our residents; I am humbled by their loyalty and dedication to the people we serve. I am also grateful for the support, good wishes and cooperation of our residents and their family members.
I want to reassure you that we continue to be committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety and health of the people we serve. We review our protocols daily and make immediate changes based on the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and the New Jersey Department of Health.
If you have any questions you'd like answered, please send an email to Questions4Parker@parkerlife.org
. We will do our best to respond as promptly as possible.
Stay healthy and safe!
President and CEO
April 13, 2020 -- An Update from Parker President & CEO Roberto Muñiz about COVID-19
Parker Undertakes the strictest protocols to Protect Residents and Staff from COVID-19
This has been an unprecedented time for all of us and we want to assure you that we have taken extreme precautionary measures in all of our five separate homes in Central New Jersey. We are strictly following all up-to-date guidelines and protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and the New Jersey Department of Health to protect residents and staff, with any recommended changes enacted instantly.
We are committed to complete transparency and we have been reporting any cases of COVID-19 at our separate homes in five different municipalities. We are consistently updating residents, families, employees, local, county and state authorities as required.
Parker is structured with various homes that have separate neighborhoods with many private rooms that naturally eliminate co-mingling among residents. In those homes without private suites, we have also created COVID-19 isolation units for those residents who have been diagnosed with the virus. They remain completely isolated from the rest of the neighborhoods. We have taken the most severe steps to ensure the safety and wellness of its residents and staff as it navigates through the COVID-19 outbreak.
These isolation units are also used for any other residents who are showing symptoms of the coronavirus, in the process of being tested or pending testing results. Those who have symptoms of the COVID-19 are receiving specific, heightened care during their recuperation process.
We also are closely monitoring staff with daily screenings and taking of temperatures, both at the start and end of their shifts. All staff is using appropriate personal protective equipment, including N95 masks to ensure safety throughout the Parker homes.
All non-essential employees are working at home and we have closed all Home-and Community-Based Services until the health crisis is over.
The safety of our residents and staff is our top priority. I want to reassure you we are fully staffed and have all the resources to meet our residents’ needs.
We want to say a special thank you to our residents and family members for all their outpouring of support and good wishes during this challenging time, it is so appreciated by all of us.
Please continue to use the email address: Questions4Parker@parkerlife.org
. We will do our best to respond as promptly as possible.
Stay healthy and safe!
President and CEO