The Square
News and perspectives from Covia.

Watch our video interview with Grant Edelstone here. 

For the general election on November 3rd, the State of California has provided guidance to make it easier – and safer – for registered voters to participate in the election process. In particular, the California Department of Public Health sent a letter to remind Skilled Nursing Facilities “of their obligation to assist and encourage residents to exercise their rights…This includes their right as a citizen to vote safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Grant Edelstone, Senior Director of Risk Management, explains some of the safer options available for all voters. “One thing you can do to stay safe is to vote by mail. Avoid voting in person.” California voters who are already registered to vote have been sent their ballot by mail. They can complete and mail in their ballot or drop them at an official ballot drop box.

Edelstone says that, for those who like to vote in person, there are safety practices that everyone can do. “If you go to a polling station, only go if you feel physically well and you have no respiratory symptoms. Try to avoid the lines by having your documentation and forms prepared in advance. Get familiar with who and what is on your ballot before you arrive at the polling station. Try to go at an off peak time, like mid-morning. Bring your own black pen or an e-stylus, if you have one.”

Edelstone also emphasizes the importance of standard safety practices at polling stations: wearing a cloth face covering or mask; wearing gloves; maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from others if you’re standing in line; using hand sanitizer frequently before and after touching objects or surfaces; and washing your hands when you get home. “You could consider wearing eye protection like goggles,” he adds, “And if you’re going to stand in a long line maybe bring a portable chair and wear comfortable shoes.”

Residents who may not be able to get to a polling station can ask staff members for assistance in ways that respect their privacy, Edelstone says. “That could be helping them register if they’ve changed their address to update their voter registration if needed.” (The last day to register to vote is Monday, October 19th. Californians who meet the registration requirements can register online at https://registertovote.ca.gov/.) Staff can also help people to go online to get materials in the language that they prefer, or help read the election materials to someone and help someone with alternative voting methods.

Edelstone also shares what staff are not allowed to do. “You can’t influence a resident’s vote. You can’t mark a ballot in any way other than the resident directs you to. You can’t tell anyone how a resident voted. You can’t decide if someone is mentally incompetent to vote. You can’t determine if a resident is eligible to vote. And you can’t vote on their behalf, if you’re unable to reliably determine how the resident wants to vote.”

“So basically you have to listen to the resident, respect their wishes, and do what they are directing you to do, is the easiest way to put that,” Edelstone says.

Fundamentally, Edelstone says, “There’s ways to participate in and support civic activity without having to interact with too many other people and to have your voice heard and make your vote count.”

To learn more about how to vote in the upcoming election in California, go to https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california.

 

Monterey County homeowner Doris Beckman was struggling to keep her home – until she started home-sharing. “It’s made such a difference in my life not to have to worry about paying my bills or losing my home,” Beckman says. “I am finally able to do the needed maintenance on my home and dig my way out of the debt from my husband’s illness.”

Now, Beckman is carrying forward this personal experience into a new role – leading the expansion of Covia’s home-sharing program, Home Match, into the community she loves. “There are so many people living on the edge, just one paycheck away from losing everything,” says Beckman, who is leading the Home Match Monterey program as the Program Manager. “Home-sharing done right can relieve isolation, stress, depression, and anxiety.”

Launching in October 2020, Home Match Monterey will support multiple communities on the Monterey Peninsula, including Carmel, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Sand City, and Seaside. 

The seed was first planted in late 2018 when Home Match was invited to present to the Housing Options Meaningful to Elders (HOME) Collaborative. Karen Coppock, Senior Program Director of Home Match, saw this as an opportunity to deepen Covia’s local roots and help tackle the affordable housing crisis, identified by the Monterey County’s Area Agency on Aging as a top priority.

“Covia has over 55 years of history in the community through Canterbury Woods as well as Market Day and the Well Connected programs, so we are excited to expand our support to include affordable housing,” notes Coppock.

As exemplified by Beckman’s own story, the issue of affordable housing has become increasingly prevalent in Monterey County for both homeowners and renters. With many Bay Area residents moving out of San Francisco and into Monterey, housing costs are increasing and exacerbating the issue for those who work on the Monterey Peninsula but cannot afford to live there. The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership has identified that 85% of Monterey Peninsula workers commute and that over a quarter drive at least 50 miles a day. These issues are aggravated by COVID-19, which has increased financial instability and social isolation while causing increased interest in aging-in-place.

“Home Match provides an excellent solution to these issues by matching local people with extra rooms in their homes with people seeking affordable housing,” explains Coppock. “Added rent from the match allows homeowners or primary tenants to stay longer in their homes while providing an affordable housing solution to those who would not otherwise be able to afford to live in their community.”

There has already been real local demand for Home Match’s services in Monterey, with 33 people interested in offering rooms and 37 people looking for shared homes. In return, Home Match will offer its time-proven, community-centered approach that includes a person-centered application and customizable agreement process. Home Match also has safety guidelines in place during COVID-19, operates in both English and Spanish, and serves everyone regardless of their immigration status.

Reflecting on this next step in her home-sharing journey, Beckman can’t wait to get started. “I know the impact Home Match can make in the community and I am so excited to be a part of it,” she says.

Do you have an available room in your home or are you looking for affordable housing in Monterey County? If so, please visit our website to find more information and submit an inquiry form. You can also reach out to Doris Beckman directly at dbeckman@covia.org or 831-760-5529. We look forward to hearing from you!

Home Match’s expansion into Monterey would not have been possible without support from funders, endorsers, and supporters, including the Monterey County’s Department of Social Services Aging and Adult Services, and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation – host of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. In addition, funding was provided in part by a grant from the Margaret L. Musser Field of Interest fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County. Thank you to everyone who helped make Home Match Monterey possible:

Funders:

Endorsements:

Supporters:

Spring Lake Village: If you have questions or would like to update us on your whereabouts, please call 707-538-8400 or contact us at info@covia.org.  

Wednesday, October 21 10:20 am

CalFire reports that the Glass Fire is 100% contained as of 11:00 am Tuesday, October 20th. All of us send our deepest gratitude to our first responders for everything they have done to protect Spring Lake Village, Friends House, and the greater Sonoma and Napa County community during this fire. 

Monday, October 19 11:00 am

We are happy to report that our Skilled Nursing Facility was granted approval by the State to reopen and residents will be returning throughout this week. 

Other than our SNF residents and residents already on our list for an extended absence, all Spring Lake Village residents have returned.  

Thank you to everyone who helped our residents stay safe throughout the evacuation. 

Thursday, October 15 9:20 am

The recording of yesterday’s Zoom update is available here, and the Q & A document is here. Unless something changes significantly, this is the final SLV update Zoom call related to the evacuation. Michael will resume regular written updates starting today and weekly resident meetings next Wednesday, October 20.  We will provide updates to this webpage only when there are significant changes or items to report. 

Thank you to everyone who helped us get through this evacuation.

Wednesday, October 14 5:25 pm

Residents are continuing to return to Spring Lake Village and getting tested upon arrival. So far, all tests have come back negative.

Independent Living residents who have yet to return may come back between 8:00 – 4:30 tomorrow or Friday. Please pull into the main parking lot as directed and wait to get tested before returning to your residence. If you have any questions or concerns about arrival times, or need to make arrangements to return at another time, please call 707-538-8400.

There will be a survey of our Skilled Nursing Facility conducted by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) on Friday. If we pass the survey, Spring Lake Village will be able to start bringing back Skilled Nursing residents on Monday of next week. 

The recording and Q & A of today’s update will be posted in the morning. 

Tuesday, October 13 5:00 pm

Our next Spring Lake Village Community Update will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, October 14 at 3:00. Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://esc.zoom.us/j/92133574393

To join by telephone, call 669-900-6833 or 855-880-1246 (Toll Free), and enter the Webinar ID: 921 3357 4393 (International numbers are available: https://esc.zoom.us/u/aZjRUUGlV).

Tuesday, October 13 9:15 am

Residents continue to return today. Residents from East Side Cottages 10 – 44 and East Side Buildings A – F are asked to arrive between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm and report to the parking lot at the main entrance. From there, you will be directed where to park and will be given a COVID-19 test before returning to your home. There will be assistance if you need help with transporting your items. It is important that you arrive during these scheduled hours since these are the times when staff is available to do the testing. All residents must get tested before returning to your cottage or apartment. 

Residents from the Arbol Community will be returning this afternoon. Tomorrow, residents from West Side Cottages 50 – 101 and West Side Buildings G – P are invited to return between 9:00 am – 1:00 pm and follow the procedures outlined above. 

The full return schedule is posted here. Residents in Skilled Nursing will return once Spring Lake Village has received approval from the Department of Social Services and OSHPD, most likely beginning to return next week. 

If you cannot return at your scheduled time, you must contact Connie Nelson at Spring Lake Village and set up a scheduled time to return so that staff will be ready and available to test you upon arrival. Thank you for your cooperation!

The Q & A from yesterday’s Zoom update is here. The recording is here. There will be another Zoom update tomorrow at 3:00, which will likely be the final video update related to this incident. Starting tomorrow, Executive Director Michael Cataldo will resume his regular daily memos. Weekly resident meetings will resume next week. 

Monday, October 12 5:10 pm

The recording of today’s Zoom update is now available to watch here. Our next Zoom update will take place this Wednesday at 3:00. More information will be posted tomorrow.

Monday, October 12 11:15 am

We will be having a Spring Lake Village Community Update today at 3:00 by Zoom. Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://esc.zoom.us/j/92533464802

Or call in to 669-900-6833 or 877-369-0926 (Toll Free) and enter the Webinar ID: 925 3346 4802 (International numbers  are also available: https://esc.zoom.us/u/acTc7ThZhh).

Residents are beginning to return to Spring Lake Village, according to the Evacuation Return Schedule, available here. Today, residents who have been staying at the Residence Inn Sacramento Downtown will be returning. Tomorrow, residents who live in East Side Cottages 10-44 and buildings A-F are welcome to return between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. We are so glad to welcome you back home!

Friday, October 9 4:00pm

The Spring Lake Village return schedule can be found here. For any questions about the return schedule, please call 707-538-8400 or contact us at info@covia.org

Friday, October 9 8:45 am

There will be a Zoom community update for Spring Lake Village today at 3:00. Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://esc.zoom.us/j/91988294649

To connect by telephone, dial 669 900 6833  or 877 369 0926 (Toll Free)

Webinar ID: 919 8829 4649

    International numbers available: https://esc.zoom.us/u/abVw1YyEaL

Thursday, October 8 9:10 am

The video recording of yesterday’s update is now available. You can watch it here. The next Zoom video update will take place tomorrow, October 9 at 3:00. The link will be posted by the end of the day today.

As of 7:30 this morning, CalFire reports that the Glass Fire is 66% contained. “Crews experienced minimal fire behavior throughout the night. These conditions consisted of creeping and smoldering within the current fire perimeter.” The full update is available here.

The City of Santa Rosa has posted information to inform city residents that the water quality was not impacted by the Glass Fire. They report, “Ongoing testing and monitoring of Santa Rosa’s drinking water confirms that our community’s water system meets all safe drinking water standards.” Read the full statement here

Wednesday, October 7 5:10 pm

The Q & A from this afternoon’s Spring Lake Village Community Update is now available for download here. The video will be available tomorrow. Our next update will take place on Friday, October 9 at 3:00 pm. 

We do not yet have a reopening date when residents can return to Spring Lake Village, though we hope residents may start to be able to return sometime next week. Before residents can return, we need permission and guidance from state regulatory and public health agencies. We expect detailed guidance from the Department of Public Health this week. We will plan a staged reopening so everyone doesn’t arrive at once. Please stay safe where you are and we will let you know more as soon as we know more. 

If you do move to another location, or need essential items from your apartment, please let us know at info@covia.org or 707-538-8400. If you would like to move to the Residence Inn Sacramento Downtown, where SLV staff are able to provide support, please contact Chris Ichien at cichien@covia.org.  

In preparation for residents’ return, staff and vendor partners are cleaning the Spring Lake Village campus. Duct cleaning  began today and should be completed tomorrow. Environmental Services is continuing to clean and replace linens and remove spoiled food from refrigerators. 

The Santa Rosa Postmaster has informed us that mail will be delivered to the campus starting next Monday, October 12. UPS and FedEx parcels are currently being delivered and stored in a secure location. 

During the remainder of the evacuation, Stephen Eik, Spring Lake Village’s IT Tech, will be offering remote Tech Help for SLV residents from 9-1, Monday-Friday. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call Stephen at 707-318-4524, and leave a voicemail with your name, phone number, and tech issue for which you would like help.

Tuesday, October 6 4:10 pm

Our next Spring Lake Village Update will take place tomorrow at 3:00 pm. Residents, family members, friends and others are welcome to attend. Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://esc.zoom.us/j/93873619087

Or join by telephone at 669-900-6833  or 877-369-0926 (Toll Free), then enter Webinar ID: 938 7361 9087 (International numbers available: https://esc.zoom.us/u/ah9We5WMS).

Tuesday, October 6 1:10 pm

Although there is no new update on when the Spring Lake Village campus will be reopening for residents, staff are currently cleaning common areas as well as laundering linens and removing spoiled food from refrigerators in preparation for residents’ eventual return.

In addition, a team is working on a plan that will allow residents to return safely and prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. At this point, we do not have any active cases of COVID-19 among our dispersed residents. However, due to possible exposure during the evacuation, we will be putting precautions in place when residents return. 

The questions and answers from yesterday’s video update are now available for download here. Our next update will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, October 7 at 3:00 pm. We will post the link by the end of the day today.

Well Connected, a Covia Community Services program that helps seniors throughout the United States stay connected by phone or Zoom, has set up a special group for Spring Lake Village residents to help you stay connected. Weekdays from 10:00 to 11:00 am, SLV residents are invited to check in with each other by phone. Please download this flyer to get the details on how to join. And thank you to the Well Connected team for setting this up. 

Monday, October 5 5:30 pm

The most recent Spring Lake Village update is now available to view online here. Our next video update will take place on Wednesday, October 7 at 3:00 pm. 

At this time, there is still no reopening date for the Spring Lake Village community, though we anticipate it will be at least another week. The neighborhood remains under an evacuation warning, and Melita Road is closed at Highway 12. SLV’s community leadership is in contact with state and local departments of health and Social Services to determine when residents might be able to return. In the meantime, residents may still contact the community at 707-538-8400 or info@covia.org if you need items from your apartment or wish to update us on your current whereabouts. 

Kevin Gerber, Covia’s President and CEO was able to visit the campus today and reports that the staff has done great work in cleaning the campus. Maintenance and Environmental Services staff are clearing out dairy and deli items in refrigerators, laundering sheets and linens throughout the community, and changing filters in the HVAC systems, among other clean-up tasks.

CalFire reports that the Glass Fire is 30% contained at of 3:30 this afternoon. 

Sunday, October 4 8:30 am

As of this morning, the Glass Fire is 17% contained. CalFire reports “The Glass Fire continues to actively burn across Napa and Sonoma Counties due to windy conditions, with slope and topographic driven runs. Critically low fuel moisture, very warm and dry weather conditions are contributing to very active fire behavior. Aggressive mop up and tactical patrol continues in areas where the fire’s forward progress has stopped. Crews are working aggressively to construct and reinforce existing control lines. As people start returning home, be vigilant that emergency crews are still working in the area.”

Spring Lake Village remains in an evacuation warning stage. If you would like to retrieve important items from your apartment, please email info@covia.org and let us know the item and where it is located. A team member will retrieve it for you and arrange to have it at the security check in for you to collect. 

The next Spring Lake Village video update will take place tomorrow, Monday, October 5 at 3:00 pm. Executive Director Michael Cataldo and others will be available to share information and answer your questions.  Here is the link to join the webinar. 

Congressman Mike Thompson announced to Sonoma County Residents, “If you were impacted by the Glass Fire, the county is opening a Local Assistance Center on Monday, Oct 5 at Maria Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa. It will be open on Monday from 1-7pm and then Tuesday, Oct 6 through Saturday, Oct 10 from 10am to 7pm.” More information on the Local Assistance Center and the services available can be found here

Friday, October 2 5:45 pm

The recording of this afternoon’s Spring Lake Village update is available here. A downloadable copy of the questions and answers is here

We know that people’s primary question is likely to be, “When can we return to our homes?” Unfortunately, we cannot provide any sort of definitive answer to that question. It all depends upon what happens with the fire, how long it will take to clean the campus, what our regulatory agencies require of us, and more. When we last went through this evacuation process, it was a full two weeks before residents were able to return to Spring Lake Village, and there was less clean up for the campus. We advise you to find a place where you can be comfortable for at least that long. 

We will be available to respond to phone calls and emails this weekend. We hope you get some rest, wherever you may be. 

Friday, October 2 8:00 am

As a reminder, there will be a community update for Spring Lake Village by Zoom today at 3:00 pm. Click here to join the webinar.  You can also call in at 669-900-6833, then enter the Webinar ID: 910 8936 7411.

Due to the Red Flag Warning being extended through Sunday morning, Friends House has unfortunately had to postpone its plans for residents to return to the campus. Executive Director Clara Allen has shared a letter to the community explaining the decision.  She writes,

Although we’re not together physically, we’re in community spiritually.  As a community, we care about each other’s safety, health, happiness and wellbeing. The Quaker value of Gentle Bravery comes to mind. The world is calling upon us to be nimble and flexible.  This year has brought unfathomable changes and challenges to all of our lives. I’m struck by the compassionate ways in which our community meets those challenges.  Hopefully, it won’t be long before the evacuation order is downgraded, once again and you’ll be on your way back home.  I’m holding you in the light.     

You can read the full letter here

Thursday, October 1 6:30 pm

Our next Zoom update for Spring Lake Village will take place tomorrow, Friday, October 2, at 3:00 pm. Please click the link  to join the webinar: https://esc.zoom.us/j/91089367411

All Spring Lake Village residents have now left the Petaluma Community Center and all other emergency shelters and are in an appropriate, settled location. 

The team at Spring Lake Village report that the smoke smell makes it impossible for  most employees to return to campus. Air scrubbing began yesterday and the maintenance team is making arrangements with a contractor to provide cleaning services, but for the moment, no one can return to campus.

A memo for Spring Lake Village employees has been posted on ADP, our HR information system. Please log in at my.adp.com to read and acknowledge receipt of this letter, which contains resources for your support as well as information on reporting for work during this emergency. 

Residents who need essential items from their apartments, such as medical equipment, should contact your community. We will make arrangements to deliver essential health and safety items to you. 

Thursday, October 1 8:30 am

The recording of yesterday’s Spring Lake Village update is now available here

Friends House Executive Director Clara Allen has posted information about plans for residents to return to the campus, tentatively this Friday at 10:00 am. More information is available in her letter, posted on the Friends House site here

Wednesday, September 30 5:15 pm

Over 300 people attended the Zoom call today for an update on Spring Lake Village. Thank you to everyone who attended for your questions and comments. We will share the link to the video once it becomes available. A summary of the questions and answers is here. Our next update will take place on Friday, October 2 at 3:00 pm. 

Although at this time, our communities are not in danger from the Glass Fire, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the North Bay Mountains starting from 1 PM Thursday (10/1) to 6 PM Friday (10/2) due for breezy northerly winds and critically dry conditions. Residents should not return to the community for any reason at this time. If you need items from your home, please contact your community to request that a staff member retrieve the item for you. 

If the fires remain at bay, Friends House has received permission to plan for residents’ return, possibly as early as this Friday, October 2. Executive Director Clara Allen will be sharing details on this plan on the Friends House website

As of yet, Spring Lake Village has received no indication from DSS about a potential return date. The Facilities team has returned to campus and air scrubbers will be employed tomorrow to clear some of the smoke and ash.

We are still working to find placements for some of our Assisted Living residents, due to restrictions on emergency transfers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Assisted Living residents who are still in an emergency shelter are being provided 24 hour care by Covia staff. We anticipate that all will be placed in a more settled environment no later than tomorrow,  possibly as soon as this evening. 

Wednesday, September 30 8:25 am

Due to the smoke damage and ash, Spring Lake Village is unable to reopen, even though the evacuation order for the Spring Lake neighborhood has been lifted. We invite SLV residents, family members, and others to join the Zoom call today at 1:30 for further information. Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://esc.zoom.us/j/96397542949.

Tuesday, September 29 5:20 pm

Spring Lake Village Executive Director will be holding a Community Update by Zoom tomorrow, Wednesday, September 30th at 1:30 pm. Residents, family members, staff, and others are welcome to attend. We are also working on streaming this live on Facebook, but will record and share if the livestream does not work. Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://esc.zoom.us/j/96397542949.

Spring Lake Village residents are also reminded that you can log into the SLV Resident Website to share news with your friends and neighbors about your whereabouts and how you are doing. Look under the News Discussion Forum for the evacuation discussion thread.

All Friends House residents have been transferred to other locations where they are receiving ongoing support. The Spring Lake Village staff has been working to find placements for the last 30 residents still in evacuation centers, most of them currently located  in Petaluma where staff are providing support and activities.

The SLV Wellness Team and the FH Director of Marketing Paula Wright are making phone calls to Independent Living residents  who self-evacuated to verify their location and to check in their needs. If you have an immediate concern, SLV residents are invited to call 707-538-8400. Friends House residents are welcome to call Paula at (707) 537-5927, or  email pwright@friendshouse.org

Additional staff are reporting to the Residence Inn in Sacrament to provide support for the residents living on site. Tomorrow, supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) will be delivered. Residents are reminded to continue to follow COVID-19 safety precautions: wear your mask, maintain at least 6 feet of distance if at all possible. If you notice any symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, or fever, please isolate yourself and inform your Director of Health Services immediately. 

The Friends House and Spring Lake Village campuses remain closed, and will likely remain closed for some time. Dennis McLean, Spring Lake Village Facilities Director, reports that there is significantly more smoke damage than 2017, due to the fires getting so close to the campus. Both campuses are covered in ash and will need significantly cleaning. However, neither community has sustained any fire damage. 

Tuesday, September 29 8:00 am

More than 75 residents are now staying at the Residence Inn Downtown Sacramento, with more expected to arrive today along with additional staff to support them.  

One of the Skilled Nursing Facilities that offered to accommodate some of our residents did not receive permission from our regulatory agencies to begin admission until late last night, delaying their transfer. We are in the process of making arrangements for transportation, and all Skilled Nursing residents should be in their planned emergency location by noon today. 

We have been and will continue to notify emergency contacts directly about the status of each resident. 

We are also working on setting up informational meetings by Zoom for residents and other interested persons, probably starting tomorrow. We will let you know the details when they become available. 

Monday, September 28 5:00 pm

We have set up the main phone number for Spring Lake Village to forward to someone off-campus. If you have questions or would like to update us on your whereabouts, please call 707-538-8400.

We encourage all residents to collect receipts for meals, housing, toiletries, and other necessary items purchased as a result of the evacuation, which may be included in an eventual insurance claim. Employees should track any expenses related to work, such as travel to other locations. 

Employees on site at Spring Lake Village drove around and surveyed the area. They report that there is no fire activity in the East Grove or near the campus. There is evidence of spot fires in Spring Lake Park, but they appear to have been long since extinguished. There are no emergency vehicles in the neighborhood. Fire activity is very visible in the surrounding hills, but seems to have moved away from the community.

That being said, DO NOT attempt to return to the campus for any reason at this time. Fire and other emergency crews need to be able to focus their attention on fighting the fires. Thank you for your cooperation. 

Along with all of our residents, some of our team members have been evacuated from their homes as well. Our Human Resources department will reach out via text to all SLV employees to check on their well-being and let them know how to access information and resources.

Stay safe, and we hope everyone gets some rest this evening. 

Monday, September 28 noon

Spring Lake Village staff are finalizing arrangements for residents in Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing to be transferred to locations where they can receive appropriate care during this emergency. We will notify emergency contacts directly as soon as these arrangements are finalized.

We are also making arrangements with a hotel in Sacramento to provide rooms for SLV and Friends House residents who do not need additional care. Currently, 36 residents have checked in; we anticipate 20-30 new rooms to be available today, and more to come. Please contact info@covia.org if you plan to use this housing option. 

At this time, the fire has spread to Spring Lake Park, but is not on the Spring Lake Campus itself.

The security team is still located at the Spring Lake Village campus. Employees who provide direct care to residents should ask their supervisors where to report to work. No employees, aside from the security team, should come to the Spring Lake Village campus. If you have further questions about your work duties, please contact your direct supervisor. 

Monday, September 28 7:00 am

All residents have been evacuated from Spring Lake Village and from Friends House, another community in Santa Rosa that has a management contract with Covia. SLV’s Executive Director Michael Cataldo and security staff are still on site. 

Our Skilled Nursing residents who need the most care were transferred to St. Paul’s Towers in Oakland while others are currently being cared for at an evacuation site in Santa Rosa. We will find placements for our other SNF residents today. 

Many of our residents are staying with family, having already made plans to do so in case of an emergency such as this. We also chartered a bus to transport residents to a hotel in Sacramento, where both Spring Lake Village and Friends House residents can stay during this emergency.

Sunday, September 27 11:50 pm

In response to the fires in Sonoma County, Spring Lake Village, Covia’s community in Santa Rosa, is in the process of evacuating. We will provide updates as soon as we have further information. Thank you for your patience.

 

 

 

During a recent webinar, Covia leadership gathered with prospective residents to give insight into management and operations at Covia. The webinar panel included Mary McMullin, Chief Strategy and Advancement Officer; Diana Jamison, Chief Financial Officer; Ron Schaefer, Chief Operating Officer; and Mary Linde, St. Paul’s Towers Executive Director. Katharine Miller of the Covia Foundation moderated the discussion.

The webinar offered prospective residents the opportunity to ask questions about what is currently going on at Covia from a leadership perspective, including COVID-19 preparation, the upcoming affiliation, and adapting to socially distanced activities. Part 1 about Covia’s response to COVID-19 is below.

Preparation

Covia has approached the COVID-19 pandemic both from a community standpoint as well as system-wide. At the community level, Mary Linde, Executive Director at St. Paul’s Towers in Oakland, detailed how St. Paul’s prepared after hearing about COVID-19.

“When I first learned on January 20th that COVID-19 had hit Kirkland [Washington], we immediately brought our leadership team together to say ‘That’s two states up. How do we get ready for this migrating down here?’” Linde notes. “By January 27th, we had restricted outside visitation for travelers who had travelled out of the country to those tier 3 countries. And then progressively, through the month of February and by mid-March, we started sheltering in place.”

When California Governor Gavin Newsom shut down all but essential businesses, Linde says, “we looked at St. Paul’s Towers as though it were itself a village: What are the businesses that operate within this village, which of those are essential, and how do we carry those out safely?” She explains that initially care giving and meals were the essential businesses for St. Paul’s. With in-person dining not permitted, “we said, how do we do takeout at St. Paul’s Towers?” The team wrote guidelines for how to do safe takeout. “We set up two separate takeout staging areas in our community and we designated times for people to come at meals so we wouldn’t have crowding.”

From a system-wide perspective, Covia established a COVID-19 task force that met daily initially and now three times a week. Ron Schaefer, Covia’s Chief Operating Officer, who heads up the task force, explains that its role is to “keep in touch with the health directives that are coming from different locations and provides advisories to our communities to help the Executive Directors make sure that nothing gets by them that they need to know.” The taskforce also provides guidance around the evolving best practices for infection control and testing and ensures that each location has the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed.

Providing Connection

Even with visiting restrictions in place, prospective residents can connect with a community during this time.

“If you are interested in a particular community, we encourage you to reach out and talk to people at that community,” says Mary McMullin, Chief Strategy and Advancement Officer. Community marketing teams are all ready to do a virtual tour that meets your needs, including walking you through the community, creating a special video with your specific interests in mind, and video conferencing.

The marketing team can also connect you “with residents who are living at the community and you can talk to them,” McMullin highlights. Another great option is the community Facebook pages, which post updates and photos about what is going on. They can provide great insight into what events are taking place as well as what precautions the community is taking.

All communities have embraced new ways to stay connected, adapting programming so that residents have a full schedule of activities. Linde shares that St. Paul’s Towers is “doing a lot of activities through the in-house television, like exercises and cooking classes where they deliver ingredients to apartments and residents can follow along on the in-house channel or on Zoom.” The St. Paul’s Towers chaplain has also transitioned her programming to Zoom for book discussions and more. “We do a happy hour on Zoom every Tuesday night,” Linde notes. “It’s such a gift of connection.” St. Paul’s Towers has also created an ice cream truck complete with a signature jingle that delivers ice cream and treats to residents in their apartments. Linde says “If the residents ask for it, we are really trying to find a way to do it.”

Covia also offers connection programs that are accessible to everyone, utilized by residents in Covia communities as well as the wider public. Well Connected provides a full catalog of sessions that are available over the phone or online and are completely free. Sessions cover everything from arts and yoga to armchair travel and wellness. The current catalog of sessions is available here. For connecting one-on-one, Social Call matches older adult participants with volunteers for weekly meetings over the phone. Participants enjoy talking with others from the comfort of their home and these weekly meetings go a long way toward fostering the connections that social distancing has proven are a crucial part of wellness.

Although the challenges of responding to COVID-19 are real, Covia is still finding new and positive ways to make healthy communities, build connections, and stay engaged.

For the third consecutive year, Covia has been certified a Great Place to Work™, based on results from the Trust Index survey administered to all of Covia’s employees. In addition to being certified as an organization, 12 of Covia’s communities and programs also certified on their own.

Overall, 83 percent of Covia’s employees say that Covia is a great place to work. 88 percent agreed with the statement, “I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community” and 87 percent agree that “When you join the company, you are made to feel welcome.”

One respondent commented, “When I first started people were so nice to me and so accepting, and now I get to be the same way when new people start too.” Another said, “I genuinely feel that people care about each other and want to make it the best possible workplace. This is paired with genuine care for our residents, participants, volunteers, and employees.”

“Great Place to Work certification is more than a badge,” says Prab Brinton, Covia’s VP of Human Resources. “We conduct the survey to learn, develop, and grow because we want to continue making our environment one that we all enjoy coming to every day.”

“We applaud Covia for seeking certification for the third consecutive year,” says Dr. Jacquelyn Kung of Great Place to Work’s senior care affiliate Activated Insights. “These ratings measure Covia’s capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace for high performance.”

Almost 950 employees responded to the survey, a response rate of 94 percent – Covia’s highest response rate ever. Prab Brinton and Nelia Mori, Human Resources Business Partner, made special visits to Covia’s communities, setting up separate and appropriately distanced booths with individual screens where employees could take the Great Place to Work survey safely and securely.

“The Great Place to Work Survey Road Show allowed us to show appreciation for the employees,” says Mori. “Not only did they have the opportunity to express their opinion, they also enjoyed the socially-distanced snacks, the games, the raffles. Then they went back to their departments and told their coworkers about it.”

“Completing Great Place to Work certification in the midst of COVID-19 shows a commitment to listening to employee feedback and striving to be an elite employer, regardless of current challenges,” notes Dr. Kung. 

Covia’s profile is listed among other certified companies here, and the organization is now eligible for the Best Workplaces in Aging Services list, which will be announced by Fortune Magazine in December 2020. Covia previously ranked #29 in Best Workplaces for Aging Services™ in 2018.

Watch our video interview with Jerry here.

Jerry Brown, Covia’s Senior Director of Affordable Housing, has no idea how he got exposed to COVID-19. “Between March 12 and June 28, I probably saw less than 20 people total the whole time,” he says. Nevertheless, on June 28th, “I got a really bad upset stomach. I thought I probably had food poisoning. And that lasted a straight 48 hours, two days. And then that Sunday, I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I could not get my breath.”

A trip to the emergency room confirmed his suspicions: he had COVID-19.

At first, the doctors thought he could be treated at home. “I thought I was doing fine for seven days. But the next Sunday, the elephant was sitting back on my chest again and just could hardly breathe at all.” After the hospital confirmed he had COVID-19, Jerry was admitted to the hospital to a floor designated for COVID-19 patients. “There were 70 rooms. All of these rooms are individual rooms that have special air filtering so that it doesn’t get into the rooms of the rest of the hospital,” Jerry explained. “I was lucky enough to get the last room that was available that night. I didn’t get in to my room until three o’clock the next morning, but I did get in there, and I felt so much better once the nurses and the CNAs all came around and started taking care of me.”

He thought he would be in the hospital just a couple of days, but ended up staying 10 days as his medical team determined what treatment regimen would work best for him. “They said, ‘We don’t really have a set treatment for this. Everybody is different. So what we’re going to do is just sort of throw things at you over the next few days to see what works for you.’”

Remdesivir proved unsuccessful, and his medical team was unable to get approval from the Federal Government for a plasma treatment. What ultimately worked was a steroid treatment. “The problem with the steroids and the reason that was [treatment] number three is because steroids don’t really work well with people who have diabetes.” Although Jerry’s diabetes is not severe and well controlled with Metformin, “when I started taking the steroids, which made me feel a lot better breathing-wise, my sugar levels went to 700. That’s the reason I had to stay in the hospital, so long. With that sugar level, I could have had a stroke or kidney problems.”

From the outset, his medical team told Jerry he had one goal: Stay out of the ICU! “They actually wrote it on the white board in my hospital room. There were 18 ICU rooms and they were full the whole time I was there. Over that 10 days, seven people died. You would hear that through the nurses and the medical staff and the doctors were very honest.”

Although he’s doing better, Jerry is not fully recovered. “I exercise my lungs. I speak through Zoom with a therapist. But we’ll see how it goes. Right now I’m breathing fine. I can walk about 40 feet before I get tired and need to sit down.”

He also knows that this is still a scary situation – and understands it, having lived through the AIDS crisis of the early 1980’s. “I came to San Francisco in 1979. I got transferred with my job to San Francisco, and it was right at the top of the AIDS crisis. So that was really scary for me. And we all know that that lasted a little while before we figured out that it didn’t need to be as scary as we thought because there were things you could do to make sure that you didn’t get it. I’m sure that’s going to happen with COVID-19 too. But this disease is a little different because it’s in the air. How do we manage that, other than with these masks and watching our hands and social distancing?”

He’s concerned at the number of young people who aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. “I see so many people that aren’t wearing masks or social distancing, and that’s very scary for me. I saw a lot of that in San Francisco. I live on Nob Hill and the younger people were still playing basketball and not wearing a mask and running without a mask. Hopefully they will get over it, being young and having strong bodies and a good immune system. But there are so many people around them that could get COVID.”

Aside from practicing good infection prevention habits of handwashing, wearing a face covering, and maintaining your distance, Jerry wants to remind people that, whether it’s COVID-19 or any other illness, “you are your own best advocate for your medical care.”

While he was in the hospital, “Every night I would put my questions together about nine o’clock. I would think of everything I wanted to ask them, ‘Can I do this? Can I do that?’ And then I would have my questions ready. It made me feel better too, you know, just getting an answer to things I had questions about.”

He also advises everyone to update your health care and financial directives (such as wills or trusts) “now – not when you are in the hospital bed.” He also recommends purchasing an oximeter – a battery-operated finger device that gives instant reading of your pulse and blood oxygen levels. “One of the first signs of COVID is not enough oxygen in the blood. To be up walking at a natural movement pace the reading should be 90 or above. You can purchase at most drug stores or on line for around $30. I now check mine twice a day.”

The experience has made him reflect on the importance of connections. “I thought about the people from the 1918 flu. How awful. They didn’t have Zoom. They didn’t have the Internet. They didn’t have a way to connect to people. And even though I was in that room alone, I spoke with my family every day. We FaceTimed. I Zoomed friends. People dropped things off. I got cards and I was surprised they let flowers come to the room, and all of that made the experience. I had the feeling that people were caring about me. We figured out ways to connect with each other.”

All of us at Covia wish Jerry and all who are affected by COVID-19 connection and comfort during these difficult times.

Watch our video interview with Jerry here.

On July 31, Fitch Ratings announced that Covia once again has been given an A- rating with a stable outlook. Covia first received an A- rating in 2017.

Covia benefits from its diverse operating profile, high occupancy rate, and favorable debt position. According to Fitch’s report, “Along with a sophisticated and centralized management structure, the community’s revenue diversity offsets credit risks relating to operating volatility, competitive pressures and actuarial risk.”

The report also states, “The Stable Rating Outlook reflects Fitch’s expectation that operations will improve over the next year and maintain profitability levels that are in line with Fitch’s ‘A’ category medians.”

“We are on target when it comes to taking care of our residents and employees by having a solid, financially sound organization,” says Mitzi Hyland, Covia’s VP of Finance and Corporate Controller. “Being investment grade says it all about our leadership and staff.”

Covia’s President and CEO Kevin Gerber praised “the entire Covia team for this great outcome in these extraordinary times.”

As well as evaluating Covia’s current financial situation, Fitch took into account Covia’s intention to affiliate with Front Porch, which is rated A by Fitch. “Although the recent announcement of Covia’s affiliation with Front Porch Communities and Services is still pending regulatory approval, if approved, Fitch views the strategic move could further diversify Covia’s revenue base and market reach.”

Fitch Ratings is an international credit rating agency, used as a guide to help lenders and investors evaluate which investments will not default and subsequently yield a solid return. Fitch is one of the top three credit rating agencies internationally, along with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

Throughout the recent challenging times, the strength of resilient community and caring connections with one another have never been more apparent. For more than 50 years, members of the Covia Foundation Heritage Society have helped to build the foundation of that resiliency. Heritage Society members pledge a future gift to Covia Foundation to help support their community, the Circle of Friends Assistance Fund, or a cherished Covia program. These legacy gifts throughout the years have buoyed the resilience, quality, and strength of Covia communities and services.

You don’t have to be wealthy to make a difference. You just have to plant a gift in your estate plans. Your wishes will grow from there, enriching the community of caring and services for seniors.

What types of gifts can I leave to the Covia Foundation in my will?
You may leave items such as cash, property, land, securities or real estate. Every gift, no matter how small or large, can make a difference in the lives of seniors.

Can I support a specific program in my community with my gift?
Yes, you may support a specific community or program. You may also designate your gift be used where the need is greatest. These unrestricted gifts are especially valuable, as they provide flexibility to respond to changing needs and priorities.

Is a gift through my will tax deductible?
The Covia Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Charitable gifts are deductible to the full extent of the law. However, we suggest you seek advice from your tax advisor. Administrative charges are not deducted from gifts.

I already have a will — can I still leave a gift to the Covia Foundation?
Yes. Simply specify the Covia Foundation as a beneficiary of a particular account (such as a savings account or a retirement account). You can also amend your will with simple language (referred to as a codicil) to include a gift to the Covia Foundation.

How do I get started?
Please contact Katharine Miller, Covia Foundation Executive Director (925.956.7414 or kmiller@covia.org), to discuss your priorities and options. The Covia Foundation receives and administers all charitable gifts made to support Covia Communities, Covia Affordable Communities, and Covia Community Services.

Please notify us of your intentions to provide a bequest gift so that we may include your name as a member of the Heritage Society on the Honor Roll of Donors.

*This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 edition of Community Matters

Community life at Covia shifted with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and implementation of the shelter-in-place orders — residents, staff, and program participants found new ways to stay connected. Group activities and communal dining were put on hold while residents stayed safer at home, but resident resiliency and staff dedication quickly allowed for new realities.

A primary challenge for dining services at each community was shifting from a seated dining room experience to packaging all meals for delivery or take-out. Dining staff rose to the occasion with creativity, experimentation, and flexibility. At Canterbury Woods, residents even volunteered to help coordinate the orders for their neighbors so everyone could get what they wanted. To enhance their regular meal offerings, the San Francisco Towers dining staff offered a weekly door-to-door cart with wine and cheese and fresh produce from the farmer’s market.

At St. Paul’s Towers, a server went out of his way to bring Margaret Hasselman, an SPT resident, part of her meal that had gotten left out of her bag. “Last night after I returned to my apartment from picking up my dinner at the bistro, I heard a knock at my door. It was Roderick! He came up to my 12th floor apartment to bring me crudités that were missing from my bag,” Margaret says. “I still am so delighted that he would do that. Such an act of kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness. ”

At Webster House, Executive Director Linda Hibbs checks in on residents by personally delivering glasses of wine door to door in the evening. At Canterbury Woods, the “Good Humor Crew” was a big hit, with dining staff going door to door delivering ice cream. “It makes me feel like a kid again!” says one happy customer.

Activities directors also had to adapt, and staff and residents alike began embracing the virtual possibilities for group activities. Spring Lake Village, which has a robust wellness program, created a schedule of fitness classes for residents to enjoy via the Zoom online platform, accessed by computer or tablet. A parcourse with exercises to be done outside along the walking path was also created as a way for the residents to get exercise while socially distanced. Musicians who would typically perform for an audience in the Spring Lake Village Montgomery Center recorded concerts to be enjoyed online. Residents also staged impromptu concerts in courtyards for neighbors to enjoy from their windows and doorways.

At St. Paul’s Towers, the program team organized a socially distanced virtual happy hour where residents visited the lounge to pick up a glass of wine, sparkling water, or portioned ingredients to make their own cocktail of the day. Residents took their beverages back to their apartments and tuned into a Zoom session to catch up and enjoy each other’s company.

Social distancing may mean that our residents and staff can’t be physically close, but fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to connect with each other and the outside world while staying safe at home.

*This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 edition of Community Matters