The ability to be nimble and pivot at critical moments has served well the nearly 1,000 residents and more than 800 employees at John Knox Village during the many months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In December 2020, John Knox Village Elder Vera Leip, with Gov. Ron DeSantis, became the first long-term care resident to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the State of Florida.
When cases began surging around the country—due in part to the highly contagious Delta variant—JKV had already reinstated previous restrictive preventive protocols and instituted new measures.
In addition to which, South Florida’s premier life-plan retirement community began an aggressive educational initiative. Called the Campaign to 100!, its goal to have 100 percent of all residents and staff vaccinated.
Along with airing in-house-produced educational and testimonial videos, the Village contracted the services of an internationally recognized microbiologist, immunologist and vaccination expert to participate in a series of virtual Town Hall meetings.
Are The JKV Measures Working?
As of press deadline, while Florida was accounting for 20 percent of the nation’s positive cases and hospitals in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties were admitting the most COVID-19 patients of any counties in the country, the Village had less than five percent of cases among residents and staff. Florida’s positivity rate was over 18 percent by comparison.
Medical experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 positivity rate is five percent or less in an area.
Extensive regular COVID-19 testing is now the protocol for residents and staff at John Knox Village.
First In Life-Care Community Vaccinations
Leveraging collaborative partnerships with many local, regional and state agencies, JKV was the first life-care community in Florida to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to its residents and staff, in December 2020.
During one of the recent “COVID Campus Concerns” Town Hall meetings, President & CEO Gerry Stryker told the Zoom audience from the Village: “I would like to reiterate to everyone that the safety and well-being of our residents and staff is—and always will be—John Knox Village’s Number One priority.”
President Stryker introduced Dr. Mark Cochran, during that same meeting, to provide expert advice on the efficacy and importance of vaccines. Dr. Cochran recently retired from Johns Hopkins Medicine, where he had built and led the Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions team, which included his work in creating the model of care used by residents and staff at JKV’s on-campus Center for Healthy Living.
His experience includes drug discovery, vaccine discovery and development, business development, clinical research, disease management, Wellness and Lifestyle management, program management, and venture capital initiatives. He has also held leadership positions in organizations such as Johns Hopkins Medicine, Bayer Pharmaceuticals (in Germany and USA), Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, MDS Capital Corp., and NeuroVentures Capital.
Dr. Mark Cochran
Vaccines Save Lives
“Vaccines are probably one of the greatest developments in medicine,” he said. “Throughout its history it has saved hundreds of millions of lives… so I’m a fan.
“Vaccines are designed to prime your immune system so that when you do see the agent that you’re being vaccinated against, the immune system can jump into action right away. The vaccine puts everything in a stand-by mode so that as soon as they see a single molecule coming from that invading agent, it can react.
“The whole objective of the vaccine is to prevent you from dying from the virus.”
After his many years of working with businesses, groups in health care, and communities such as JKV, Dr. Cochran said this: “I’ve been very impressed with your community, but more particularly your management because of the level of caring that I have felt from them in regard to the residents of this community.”
JKV’s Current Proactive COVID-Careful Measures:
- Mandatory proof of vaccinations of all new hires
- Mandatory proof of vaccinations of all staff by Oct. 1, 2021
- Conducting frequent on-campus vaccination clinics
- Providing twice-a-week on-campus COVID testing by the Broward Department of Health
- Screening and temperature taking at all entry gates
- Mandatory wearing of face coverings in all indoor common areas throughout the 70-acre campus
- Communicating with residents and staff through a nearly daily COVID-related update
- Requiring all staff attend educational sessions conducted by team and outside medical experts
- Providing residents with “virtual” informational, educational and entertaining programming in lieu of in-person activities
- Closing in-person inside dining at all 3 venues—providing take-out and home delivery options, with the home delivery fee waived until further notice
- Airing in-house produced educational videos
- Creating Myth vs. Facts and Frequently Asked Questions educational guides
- Videotaping resident and staff pro-vaccination testimonials