Associated Press published a story on June 13 regarding the return home of more than 70 Park Springs staff who committed to sheltering in place on campus 24/7 for nearly three months to protect their members from COVID-19.
Nursing homes – among the hardest hit places by the novel coronavirus pandemic – have limited visitors and screened people for the virus. Park Springs took the unusual step of having staff lock-in on campus to keep their more than 500 residents safe, but knew that was not a measure that could be sustained forever.
In Phase Two, Park Springs is shifting to “personal responsibility and safety measures,” according to Donna Moore, COO of Isakson Living, which owns and operates Park Springs. Among the new measures are requiring staff to take a coronavirus test before coming back on to work and changing to two 12-hour shifts per day rather than three eight-hour shifts to reduce the number of people coming in contact with members each day.
The return home was bittersweet. Staff cried and hugged each other, and they each received a plaque inscribed with their names and a record of their sacrifice: “COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place 2020.” As the first staff members left, they walked out to meet loved ones to music and applause from Park Springs’ administrators.
Nadia Williams, a health care administrator at Park Springs, missed her sister’s wedding to shelter in place. She said she also missed laughing with her boyfriend, Lanre Adabale. Adabale said the experience had strengthened their relationship. “This sacrifice that she just gave at her place of work means a lot to me,” Adabale said.
O’Neil Marriott, a maintenance technician, recalled how some days were a struggle, but the rest of the staff supported him. “I appreciate everyone in here because you really made me feel like family,” he said.
Teisha Roberts, a nursing director, embraced her husband, mom and five children, but clung to her youngest, 3-year-old Rojuane. “Today, I get to hold him, squeeze him,” she said. While sheltering-in-place at Park Springs, she bought a house. She looked forward to seeing her home for the first time, taking a shower in her own bathroom and eating a good Jamaican meal.
In addition to preparing for Phase Two, Moore said the experience has given her a new appreciation of the importance of caring for people. She made a change for her return to work on Monday: a new office location. “I’m not going back to a quiet place on a hidden-away hallway,” she said. “I want to be with these people and engaging with them every day.”
To read more, you can visit Associated Press here.