The Square
News and perspectives from Covia.

As Covia communities and programs navigate the rapidly changing conditions and restrictions this year, we are grateful that we have resilient residents, participants, staff, and leadership that keep our communities moving forward. Challenging circumstances have brought people from across the organization together in new ways, encouraging teamwork and a sense that we truly are all in this together.

The Life Enrichment Directors across Covia Communities have been meeting monthly to share their upcoming plans and find ways to collaborate and share their virtual activities with residents of other communities. Alex Gerasimov, Covia’s Project Manager for resident experience, says, “In this time, our Life Enrichment teams united to support one another and to learn about each other’s best practices on keeping residents and staff engaged and involved in meaningful programs that enhance their health and wellness.”

Residents of Canterbury Woods and Webster House meet together on Zoom for weekly lectures and discussion groups on current events and world travel. Ania Spiering, Life Enrichment Director at Webster House, shares, “Both programs engage residents in conversation, which keeps it lively and interesting. It is wonderful to see people coming together and utilizing the possibilities that technology provides.” The two communities also share musical programs with each other. Every week, a Canterbury Woods resident shares a recorded concert, and in return, Lily Godsoe, the Webster House chaplain, offers a flute and meditation session.

Other communities have taken advantage of the virtual space to invite residents from all communities to join their ongoing events, creating more enrichment opportunities.  St. Paul’s Towers invited residents of the other Covia communities to join its sponsored webinar about water issues facing Northern California, offered as part of the UC Retiree Learning Series.  San Francisco Towers is also opening up its weekly lecture series to all communities. In September, the guest lecturer was Dr. Tammy Duong on dealing with loneliness and depression during the isolation of the pandemic. Spring Lake Village, known for its award-winning active wellness and fitness programs, shared all of its fitness videos with the other Covia communities so all residents can stay active in the comfort of their homes.

*This article was originally posted in the Fall 2020 edition of Community Matters

When Mia Lang first started looking at Life Plan Communities, she knew it was just exploration, and she wasn’t ready to make a transition. After all, she had a full life with friends and social activities and still worked part time as a hemodialysis nurse at UCSF at age 78 after retiring from a full time nursing career at the UCSF Medical Center at age 60. And then she looked at Spring Lake Village.

“As soon as I visited Spring Lake Village, I knew that was it,” she said. “I could not have chosen a better place to spend this chapter of my life. Living here is fulfilling, it’s community, there is nothing lacking. We all go through whatever we’re facing together; there’s so much support.”

Her childhood was marked by the war years on the border between the former Czechoslovakia and Austria. After fleeing to a refugee camp in Austria, her family moved to Germany as the war ended. She went into nursing because “you chose something that was practical that you could make a living at” and set out to travel the world. She worked as a nurse in Germany, Switzerland, England, and, eventually, the United States.

An interesting community with a wide variety of people has always been of interest to her. “When I first came to New York, I found an apartment in what was then Spanish Harlem,” she said. “It was only $60 a month but I loved the variety of cultures. I was so curious because I came from a background where everyone was the same.”

She was eventually drawn to the Bay Area because of her love of San Francisco, its variety of cultures, and its proximity to nature. The natural surroundings of Sonoma County and the regional parks were part of what drew her to Spring Lake Village.

“The people at Spring Lake Village are a real community,” she says. “My friends from the Bay Area who visit are very impressed and envy me for the quality of my life here. There are pockets of friendship here for so many different interests and activities — and people are warm and welcoming.”

It is that sense of community that was at the heart of Mia’s recent decision to update her estate plan and leave a gift to the Covia Foundation. “My nieces and nephews are all doing fine, and I’ve loved living at Spring Lake Village,” she reflected. “I want to leave my estate to the Covia Foundation to benefit this wonderful community.”

So after a lifetime of caring for others in nursing, Mia’s legacy gift will be able to continue caring for the community of people that makes Spring Lake Village such a special place.

For information on making a legacy gift in your will or estate plans, contact Katharine Miller, Covia Foundation Executive Director, at kmiller@covia.org or 925.956.7414

Covia Foundation Heritage Society

The Covia Foundation Honor Roll of Giving at each Life Plan Community celebrates those who support Covia communities and programs with charitable gifts. The Heritage Society section of the Honor Roll celebrates those who plan a legacy gift by including the Foundation in their planned gifts, estate plans or wills.

If you have made such a provision, please let us know so that we may add your name to the Heritage Society of the Covia Foundation Honor Roll. Contact Julie Hoerl, Covia Foundation Development Manager, at jhoerl@covia.org or 925.956.7393.

*This article was originally posted in the Fall 2020 edition of Community Matters

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.

 

 

 

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

As the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the healthcare staff at each Life Plan Community and at Support Services rose to the occasion and continued to do what they do best: provide excellent care to our residents. Covia has always had strong health care delivery and infection control procedures, but the pandemic has made the planning and training required to maintain safety more evident.

At Spring Lake Village, Jodi Arnheiter, RN and Director of Staff Development, and Sherry Taylor, RN and Director of Nursing, have led the local infection control response. Jodi, who has worked at Spring Lake Village for over 10 years, was trained by the Association for Professional Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) — the leading professional association for infection control specialists. The training includes epidemiology, microbiology, science-based infection prevention practices, and implementation of practices in a long-term care setting.

“We are so lucky to have Jodi on our staff. From the first day, she was providing daily guidance on what we had to do to be prepared,” reports SLV Wellness Director Diane Waltz. Jodi communicates frequently with the Sonoma County Public Health Department on any new data regarding the current situation, as well as reviewing the updates from CDC and the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine (CALTCM). Jodi’s colleagues praise her calm, reassuring presentation of the facts and actions that need to be taken.

In Oakland, Lisa Hiltbrand, the daughter of Helen Hiltbrand, a resident in the healthcare center at St. Paul’s Towers, expressed her gratitude for the staff, whose compassion and care for their residents was especially important during a time when family members had to stay at a distance. “Since the beginning of the restrictions due to the virus, their extreme dedication and professionalism have been exemplary. The nurses and staff have gone to extraordinary lengths to support my mother. Ranka and the other nurses have organized regular Zoom meetings for my siblings and me,” Lisa says. “It is such a relief to see our mother when we cannot be physically with her. These extra steps are even more spectacular as they’re taken in a time when the staff’s workload has been increased. I know they are taking extra time for interacting with residents due to the lack of visitors,” she says.

At Webster House Health Center, Executive Director Linda Hibbs shared her gratitude for her staff’s hard work: “I’m impressed with the dedication and compassion you have demonstrated to our residents, families, and staff. This has been a challenging time with many of you anxious about the COVID-19 virus implication and the economic future of family members. Thank you for your professionalism and willingness to be a team of heroes! The care you show for our residents makes Webster House such a great community.”

Organization-wide, the COVID-19 response is led by a task force of nine executive leaders representing Operations, Life Plan Communities, Affordable Communities, Clinical Care, Human Resources, IT, Community Services, and Communications. Grant Edelstone, Covia’s Senior Director of Risk Management, and Cynthia Shelby, RN and Regional Director of Quality and Care, are critical team members, providing guidance for local staff on best practices for infection control and compliance with local and state regulations.

As conditions changed rapidly, Grant’s support to track and implement changing mandates and rules was invaluable. St. Paul’s Towers Executive Director Mary Linde, who is also a nurse by background, says, “I am so grateful that Grant is on our team, especially right now with the onslaught of information coming from multiple regulatory agencies. Grant ensures that we all get the information and sends it to us with a concise recap. He also finds the information for us when we are scrambling to meet the demands of our situation. And he does all of this with patience and kindness.”

For the past three years, Cynthia Shelby has worked across Covia, providing support to the six health care centers at Covia Communities. She, along with other members of the Clinical Team, offers guidance  on the complexities of skilled nursing, including regulatory requirements, preparing for surveys from state regulators, billing questions, staffing concerns, training, and even filling in for key roles as needed.

“A key part of our mission is the continuum of care and how the full team helps residents transition through changes,” says Covia President and CEO Kevin Gerber. “The continuum of care is also about the whole person — not just thinking about their physical needs, but all of their needs.”

Covia has been able to get staff the supplies they need, ordering personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks in larger quantities and distributing to the communities as needed. Shelby, as part of Covia’s COVID-19 Task Force, reports daily on the needs and concerns of the skilled nursing teams, as well as the creative solutions they are implementing — such as turning sections of the health care center into isolation areas should a COVID-19 positive resident need to be kept separate from others.

“We’re making history,” says Shelby. “We’re doing things we’ve never done before. We’re introducing lots of new technologies, new ways of doing things, new ways of communicating to our families. Everyone as a team comes together for that.”

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

When shelter-in-place orders made it impossible for residents at St. Paul’s Towers to participate in the Black Lives Matter protests taking place around their Oakland community, resident Jean E. Taylor decided to share with her fellow residents an idea she had in the middle of the night. “My idea: we show support for the protesters by staging our own miniprotest.”

The idea grew. “Many of us have been feeling rather helpless, given that it is not safe for us individually to participate in protest marches,” Taylor notes. “But there has been a coalescence around the idea of a balcony protest here at SPT.”

Residents began making posters, including large letters to spell out “Black Lives Matter” to hang along one side of the high rise. On Wednesday, June 10, a number of residents gathered on their balconies on the Bay Street side of the building at 5:00 to cheer, bang pots and pans, hit gongs, and unveil their posters as well as a large BLM banner, unveiled along the top of the building.

Spring Lake Village residents also planned their own Black Lives Matter march around the perimeter of their Santa Rosa campus. Resident Council Chair John Buckstead led off the march. “The work of America’s founders and our ancestors, of Jefferson and Madison and Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King is not finished,” he told the close to 100 residents who had gathered to participate. “This is a reminder that their work is our work. We’re still here. We’re still in. You were probably doing this 50 years ago. We need to resume.”

Although protests are not a typical part of community life, the communities’ administration and Covia’s leadership recognize the resident-led efforts to exercise their rights to self-expression. “With a diversity of views in each community, it was important to consider those rights in light of Covia’s fundamental values of respect, civility in our differences, and treating one another with dignity – a difficult balancing act,” says Mary McMullin, Chief Strategy and Advancement Officer. “I believe residents were able to express their honest opinions in a respectful way.”

Along with public protests, communities also planned vigils with 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to remember the death of George Floyd and others. At Webster House, Chaplain Lily Godsoe and Executive Director Linda Hibbs joined staff from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation who observed the time of silence as a part of their organization’s response to the tragedy. “We joined them, and then decided we wanted to do the same ritual with our staff,” Godsoe says. About 15 people participated. “It was very moving for us to gather as we did in the lobby of the Health Center to honor the collective grief we were all feeling.”

Residents at St. Paul’s Towers also requested a vigil – which was joined by residents and staff at other communities and at Support Services. SPT’s chaplain Meredith Cahn, opened the vigil, saying, “We are heart-broken, we are in pain. And, as members of the Covia community, we are not in a position to march with the marchers, as we are protecting each other from COVID-19, as members of the most vulnerable group, or staff to you. So this is one of the ways we are showing support and proclaiming that we know that Black Lives Matter.” SPT resident Patrick O’Halloran provided centering thoughts before participants entered into almost 9 minutes of silence.

St. Paul’s Towers resident Jean Taylor noted how many people were involved in these events “from helping draft emails, making and distributing flyers, making the giant letters of our vertical banner, organizing and taking pictures of people with their posters, distributing materials for posters, doing the banner unfurling, etc., etc.” Although the media has often represented Black Lives Matter as a movement primarily of young people, “We say: don’t forget us old folks,” says Taylor. “We too have energy. We also believe in what we’re doing, and we’re not going to let up either.”

As our communities shelter in place, residents are finding creative solutions for staying active to manage their mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Exercising outside is a great option. The Spring Lake Village Wellness Team has created a par course around the campus to bolster the opportunities for outdoor exercise.

“Many residents already enjoy walking the beautiful creekside path and campus perimeter. Now it will also host an opportunity for a full body workout as you walk,” says Casey Westbrook, Wellness Coordinator. The course includes 17 different stations and 36 exercises targeting all the important aspects of physical fitness for older adults: balance, strength, flexibility, coordination, agility and cardiovascular fitness.

Par courses have become increasingly popular since the first one was developed by the Swiss architect Erin Weckmenn in 1968. Par courses are exercise circuits set outdoors in a park, neighborhood or community. The exercise circuit consists of stations located in one area or spaced out along a trail, each suggesting a different exercise that can be done with little equipment. Since their invention, cities and parks around the world have developed these environmental features to promote the physical health of their communities.

“Par courses provide many health benefits,” says Westbrook. “It is already known that exercise promotes good physical, mental and emotional health, and being outside provides additional health benefits. Studies show that exercising outdoors boosts mood and reduces depression through increased Vitamin D production. Just five minutes of low to moderate intensity outdoor exercise can provide increased self-esteem. Furthermore, exercising outside enhances our connection to nature which can be especially important when we have limited access to the outdoors.”

The Spring Lake Village Par Course starts on the creekside path just outside of the Village Center, and progresses counter-clockwise around campus. Starting at the first station, residents progress by heading towards the Dell to the second station and so on. Most stations are on the often-walked perimeter trail of the campus; however, some take short detours off the trail. 

“Par courses are wonderful in that each person can make the exercises their own,” says Westbrook. Residents can start at any point. The numbers are for reference, but not a requirement for the order in which exercises must be performed. They can do the entire circuit at once, skip the stations that don’t work for them, or break up the course into pieces that can be done over a few different walks.  

With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting our communities, Westbrook offers a few health and safety tips for using the par course whether at Spring Lake Village or in other locations:

*This post was originally published in the Spring Lake Village newsletter.

During one of his daily briefings, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York told listeners to be “socially distanced but spiritually connected.” Covia’s Spiritual Care team is responding to the challenge of the COVID-19 stay at home orders with creative solutions to keep residents spiritually connected during holy days and every day.

Holy Days

Since gathering in person is not a possibility, the chaplains have found new ways to offer Holy Week and Passover services for their communities.

At Spring Lake Village, Chaplains Jacquie Robb and Jeanne Forte have worked with a member of the Wellness staff to record services for Palm Sunday and Easter that are broadcast on the community’s internal TV channel. Bulletins are distributed to interested residents so that all can participate, including singing along with favorite hymns.

For Passover, Chaplain Meredith Cahn worked with Well Connected to develop a virtual Seder that will be offered live on Zoom on Thursday, April 9. Residents from all Covia communities as well as seniors living elsewhere can register to join by calling Well Connected at 877-797-7299 or emailing coviaconnections@covia.org. Cahn also created a coronavirus-related haggadah, available for all participants. The St. Paul’s Towers community in Oakland, where Cahn serves as chaplain, is creating individual Seder plates that will be delivered to the apartments of residents who wish to participate.

At San Francisco Towers, Chaplain Hans Hoch is assisting the community’s Passover celebration with Congregation Emanu-El via Zoom and offering opening remarks and welcome. He is also broadcasting Sunday services through the community’s CCTV.

Every day

Chaplains have been turning to phone calls and other ways of reaching out and staying connected. Chaplain Cahn from St. Paul’s Towers says, “I provide one-on-one support over every remote medium I can.” Chaplain Kevin Philips from Canterbury Woods says, “I make several calls each day and so far have reached over 80% of the community in meaningful conversations.” “People need connection; they are so appreciative of calls,” says Chaplain Robb at Spring Lake Village.

The chaplains have also adapted to using Zoom as a way to offer services and keep connected – including helping residents learn the new system. Chaplain Cahn, who had surgery in early March, says, “Since I was expecting to be on medical leave convalescing from surgery, this has happened at a perfect time to work remotely. As soon as the shelter in place orders came, I was able to start working with our amazing IT staff member, Eric Powell, to introduce residents to Zoom.”

Using Zoom provides opportunities for residents to meet for services and spiritual practices. Chaplain Forte, drawing from her Episcopal tradition, is offering an evening Compline service daily by Zoom for residents at Spring Lake Village while Chaplain Robb is offering a weekly meditation class through the Zoom application. “Fourteen people came to our first meeting!” Robb reports.

Along with providing spiritual care for residents, the chaplains are a resource for Covia’s employees as well. Many of the chaplains are providing daily emails with reflections, spiritual practices, and other resources for their colleagues. Chaplain Philips from Canterbury Woods shared his own poem, Strange Days, to emphasize that “There is nothing that can keep our hearts apart.” Another day, Lily Godsoe, chaplain at Webster House, shared a simple breathing meditation practice to help reduce stress.

Laura Darling, VP of Spiritual Care for Covia, sends a daily email to staff at Support Services (Covia’s administrative offices in Walnut Creek – now all working remotely), Community Services, and Covia’s Affordable Communities. “One of the things I hope to do with these spiritual care emails is provide a real range of ways to connect with your spirit,” she said in one of her emails, which included a link to a 10-minute meditation video, a downloadable sheet for coloring, and the link to a blog post providing support and encouragement. “These emails are meant to provide support for people who come from a wide range of religious backgrounds, including those with no religious background at all,” Darling says. “This pandemic is affecting all of us, and we need to support one another in all kinds of ways.”

Advice from the Chaplains

When asked what they would say to help those who are socially distancing take care of their spirit, the chaplains had this advice:

Chaplain Jacquie Robb, Spring Lake Village: Give yourself plenty of rest and good food; don’t worry so much about getting things accomplished but give yourself time to BE with yourself and connect with others.

Try to Zoom with each other and do things together online. For instance, I’m watching a play that is offered online with a friend from Maine. Find a routine. Keep moving your body. Pray/meditate. Ask God the hard questions (Where are you in all this?) and listen for a response.

Chaplain Jeanne Forte, Spring Lake Village: Be gentle with yourself. There will be time, when this pandemic is over, for ‘amendment of life’ things. Now is not the time to launch into demanding life changes. Keep things simple. Keep things kind. Be generous with yourself.​

Chaplain Meredith Cahn, St. Paul’s Towers: Be in regular contact with loved ones – daily, or even more often, using every medium possible. Help your parent/grandparent/whoever get on Zoom or Skype or Facetime. Exercise, eat healthy, limit news intake. Laugh when you can find it. Dance. Recognize and name your fears, and see if you can let them go.

Chaplain Kevin Philips, Canterbury Woods: Food for the spirit comes in so many forms and by so many conduits. For those I know who have faith in something, I will encourage tapping in to that. For those who are able, I encourage walks or just sitting on a bench somewhere on our beautiful campus. For those with only a phone, I suggest calling up old friends. For those with Zoom, I pass on information about how to connect with others. For those without Zoom who have a computer, I encourage them to download it and give them the information they need to do that. 

I hear myself say to people who are angry or having some other ego dystonic feeling:  “Don’t judge your feelings. That will only make it worse. Feelings are feelings and don’t have to be rational. Just accept that you are feeling that way and let it pass through you.” 

Image: Chaplains at a weekly Zoom meeting. 

In the United States, 40 percent of all food grown, produced, packaged and sold is thrown in a landfill. This food waste comes from growers, markets, restaurants, and resident homes and is predominantly leftovers, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, and packaging. We are all responsible.

There are no better ambassadors to inspire us to reduce food waste than chefs. Chefs know more about how to fully utilize every leaf, root, bone, stem, and rind.

Morrison Living, who provide culinary services at Covia’s Life Plan communities, initiated a Waste Not program in early 2018 to actively curb the amount of food waste produced by their kitchens. Since then the chefs and cooks in the Spring Lake Village kitchen have become experts at reducing food waste.

What is Waste Not? “It is accounting for every item that comes into the kitchen, using the most of every item, using food before expiration dates, measuring food waste, composting and tracking our results,” says Spring Lake Village Executive Chef Ion Aguinagalde. Production Manager John MacDonald assures that all the onion and celery trimmings go into the daily simmering of fresh broth. He also makes sure all the cooks are instructed on how to carefully pare and prepare ingredients to create the least amount of waste.

Sous Chef John Child is responsible for keeping track of the weekly Waste Not tally and logging it on the computer. Daily logs are maintained by the kitchen and dining staff. “I report over-production waste, production waste (scraps), and unused or out of date inventory,” says Sous Chef John. “Everything is accounted for and evaluated.” The whole dining staff knows the drill, “how can we cut waste?”

The Spring Lake Village culinary team are always looking for new ways to reduce food waste and use more of what they have in the kitchen. The ‘Waste Not’ program has been a great opportunity to incorporate new strategies and move toward a kitchen that creates as little food waste as possible.

* A version of this article was originally published in the Spring Lake Village resident newsletter