Sing The Praises For Unsung Heroes
JKV’s Employees Dedicated To Security, Wellness And Health
By Marty Lee, Contributor
John Knox Village (JKV), the Pompano Beach Life-Plan Continuing Care Retirement Community of nearly 1,000 residents and more than 800 staffers, has mobilized its emergency plan to keep residents safe at home while redeploying staff to efficiently care for the daily needs of those residents.
“Our vigilance and responsibility to the well-being of all our residents, staff and vendors is undoubtedly worth our preventive measures,” Gerry Stryker, JKV President & CEO, said.
“We are all responsible for doing our part to stop the spread of this virus. Fear, anxiety and the spreading of rumors is counterproductive. Rest assured; we are working diligently to protect everyone.
“We are engaged on a daily basis with a variety of industry and governmental agencies, either through daily conference calls or by monitoring their notifications. Those groups include: LeadingAge Florida, the not-for-profit senior living industry trade group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), World Health Organization (WHO) and others,” he added.
Long before Florida issued its stay-at-home guidelines, JKV departments had implemented the plans to keep residents and employees safe during the COVID-19 crisis. The three most visible departments implementing these plans involve: Security and Transportation to assure the campus remains safe and sheltered-in-place while providing transportation for those residents requiring essential “outside the Village” medical appointments, Dining Services to make sure all residents are well fed with daily home delivery of breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, and Wellness Nursing to maintain and oversee resident health during the crisis.
Security Of The Village
On the front line of JKV’s plan is Transportation and Security Manager Wesley Letscher, whose staff’s responsibility starts at the Village’s entry gates.
“Currently only essential visitors are authorized to enter JKV. This means someone who is a caregiver, rather than a social visitor,” Wesley shared. “Deliveries are allowed at this time and Security has been assisting to ensure the packages and groceries aren’t being misplaced or delivered to the wrong address.
“We have a screening process that everyone entering the Village must pass in order to be granted access. The questions range from travel history, to current symptoms and, of course, any contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Should anyone answer yes to any of these questions, access will be denied, and they will be turned away.”
Wesley said that currently off-campus transportation is limited for essential medical appointments only. “All shopping trips have been canceled; groceries and prescriptions are being delivered to the residents by outside services. We are handling all resident special needs on a case-by-case basis.
“Each and every day, our Transportation and Security staff goes above and beyond their call of duty to serve the residents of JKV,” he said. “We have a really special team that understands what caring and customer service mean. The people on the front lines screening at the gates, are working tirelessly to ensure nobody enters JKV without the proper screening. I am so thankful for our Transportation and Security employees, they have remained flexible, show up every day, never complain and the residents are also so appreciative.”
Keeping Residents Fed Daily
With nearly 800 independent living residents, all now sheltering at home, a major consideration has been keeping them all well fed. Under normal times, residents took buses, campus carts or strolled to the Patio and Lakeside Dining Rooms or The Palm Bistro for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Meals were a major opportunity to socialize and linger over a delicious entrée and catch up on the day’s events. Today’s situation dictates that all meals are ordered by residents via phone or internet, and the meals are delivered fresh and directly to residents’ homes or villas.
Joe Mallen, JKV’s Director of Dining Services, implemented a phased plan to keep all residents well fed, weeks before the coronavirus crisis became prevalent.
“I put together a ‘what if’ scenario, if the dining room was in fact closed [due to social distancing],” Joe said. “I included the Palm Bistro in that scenario as it is in a healthcare setting and probably would be closed before the dining room, out of an abundance of caution.
Currently Dining Services is following its detailed plan. With the dining rooms and Palm Bistro closed, daily meals are available for home delivery only. Also, as part of this plan, Executive Chef Mark Gullusci and his kitchen team have developed frozen meal options. “We’re starting with four different meals, in three different sizes, freshly prepared and frozen,” Joe said. “There’s Baked Ziti, Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo, Hearty Beef Stew and Chicken Verdicchio,” Joe explained.
Dining Services currently has a staff of 103 including Catering & the Palm Bistro. Joe praised his staff saying, “They have really come together to function as a unit. Teamwork has never been better. We are fully staffed right now and have deployed staff based on their skill set. Some are great on the phones, others efficient at fulfilling the orders, still others at navigating through the campus and delivering the meals with a smile. We will continue to evaluate the schedule, and ensure our employees are productive and deployed as necessary.
“It’s a team effort all the way. We were proactive and prepared for the worst. My team put systems in place so when the time came to implement them, there wasn’t the chaos that there could have been.
“Rob Seitz [Communications Manager] and the team [in Marketing and Life Enrichment] have done a wonderful job keeping everyone updated. This daily communication has taken a lot of the fear out for many. I am so proud of how my managers and staff have responded during this unprecedented time of uncertainty. Everyone has stepped up and pitched in to learn new roles and responsibilities. The morale has never been better, and I think they understand now the seriousness of the situation, as well as how important they are to the health and welfare of our John Knox Village Residents.”
Health Care Services
As a Life-Plan Continuing Care Retirement Community, John Knox Village provides a continuum of care from independent living, to assisted living and higher levels of care, both short-term and long-term on its beautiful 70-acre botanical campus.
Leslie Schlienger, John Knox Home Health Agency Administrator, supervises a health care services team of 200 Home Health Agency Nurses and Aides, and a staff of 25 in Wellness Nursing. These ladies and gentlemen are on the front lines, keeping residents healthy and safe.
At this time of social distancing, and in the interest of maintaining the health of all residents and staff, procedures have been modified.
“Much of the daily screening done by Wellness Nurses is now being done by phone,” Leslie said. “Home Health Case Managers have minimized visits to only essential functions. We are getting very good at telephone triage.”
Protocols are in place so that: “If we suspect virus-like symptoms, the resident will need to self-isolate and the physician will be notified,” Leslie said. “They manage the symptoms in the home as best as possible. Nursing will call twice a day to check on the resident, and if indications dictate a need for more sophisticated management they will be transferred to a higher level of care.”
So far, JKV’s social distancing protocols have kept the Village’s independent living residents safe.
Leslie credits her health care staff with heartfelt commitment far beyond the call of duty. “I am overwhelmed and impressed with their dedication, kindness and loyalty to the John Knox Village community. In this time of heightened anxiety, I see our people are being very kind and considerate and that is what is bringing out the very best in us.”
Bringing Out Our Better Angels
She said the feeling of humanity and assistance has extended beyond the walls of JKV. “Nuage Designs, a textile company in Miami, contacted us and sent more than 50 cloth face masks to distribute to our aides, who ride public transportation to and from work for their personal use. They also gave a small bottle of hand sanitizer with each mask. This is an example of how we are all working together in this.”
If these stories are any indication, the staff at John Knox Village are truly the unsung heroes keeping the community safe. Even in normal times, their efforts go above and beyond the expected as they provide stellar services to keep the community going. For more information about John Knox Village, click here or contact us by phone at 954-783-4040.