Bravery In The Face Of Danger, Support Beyond Measure
Chris DiMaso | May 24, 2021
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecc 4:12
Today we somberly mark the one-year anniversary of Villa St. Francis encountering Covid-19. No one could have foreseen what these twelve months would hold. It is a time that will leave an indelible mark on our lives. We learned so much about fighting infection, but we learned even more about the human spirit. Our brave staff stood in the line of danger and didn’t flinch. You, our friends, supported us through prayer and donations.
Before the news was telling us something different every day about Covid, we were listening to the top scientists in the country. We had made the decision to close our doors and protect our residents early on. Even still we knew it was likely we Covid wasn’t an if, but a when. PPE became the office wear for everyone. Faces masked, hands gloved, and gowns over clothing became the new couture.
On May 23rd, 2020 we had our first positive Covid test return. “A day none of us will ever forget. It felt like the building was on fire,” said Kristie Onkoba LPN, Director of Quality Improvement and Risk Management. It was then we knew that how different life was going to get. Fear swept through the building, but to our amazement, it didn’t change our staff’s commitment to serving.
“It takes a brave individual to knowingly walk into a room with Covid and provide compassion, but that is exactly what our staff did.” Rodney Whittington, CEO. “We could have never got through this without them.”
Over the last year, we saw two outbreaks enter our building. However, every time we saw your support flood in as well. We heard over and over, ” Thank you to everyone for your care and concern.” and “Praying for you and everyone in your community!!” You blessed us when we needed it most. You sent snacks for staff, you donated online, and you lifted us up in prayer. You will never know how much you mean to us.
From everyone at Villa St. Francis, thank you for your continued support.
Nursing Home Week 2021
Chris DiMaso | May 17, 2021
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecc 3:1
Nursing Home Week 2021 proved to be a week of fun and celebration. Last year’s celebration was anything but in quarantine. With that behind us, we set our sites on a week of activities, food, and entertainment. The national theme this year was “Through The Seasons.” This felt appropriate as it had been many seasons since we had time to rejoice together.
Four seasons and five days meant that we needed an introduction day to kick us off. On Monday our friend Laurie with Catholic Community Hospice came to serenade us with songs about the seasons. We ended the day with some “green money” bingo. Residents that won received a dollar bill. It was a full house that day.
Tuesday ushered in Spring even though the weather outside disagreed. Decorations of flowers and bright colors went up. We had planned to go outside to plant the beautiful flowers that you donated, but chilly temps and threats of rain postponed the event.
Fall fell on Wednesday and so did fall activities. The weather was much nicer so we seized the opportunity to plant our beautiful flowers. The courtyards and gazebos are fully dressed with a host of colors. A resident favorite, Rob McHenry, brought his guitar and led us in songs of yesteryear. We celebrated May birthdays and had cider with donuts. Decorations of brown leaves now adorned the walls.
Winter is coming, and so it did on Thursday. Snowballs flew as residents and staff waged war. These fuzzy white balls didn’t melt, nor did they hurt. It was Eunice who fired the first shot, but the volley didn’t stop there. Loren and Helen took aim at anyone within throwing distance. Later we enjoyed hot chocolate as welcomed Carlos Garcia as a new performer. Snowflakes now hung in the main dining room.
We took a trip to the beach on Friday as we celebrated Summer. We played outdoor games like cornhole and listened to the Beach Boys. We used a beach backdrop to take photos and enjoyed popsicles to cool us down. Lunch was hamburgers and brats on the grill. With sides like potato salad and watermelon, it felt like a backyard bbq. Flip flops and other summer icons decorated the walls.
Nursing Home Week might be over, but we are still celebrating every day being together again. We look forward to the time when you can all join us for another party. You can view our monthly calendar here.
The Show Must Go On
Chris DiMaso | March 15, 2021
“Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe” Psalm 150:3-4
At the beginning of the pandemic, one of the first casualties of normal life was our entertainers had to stop coming into Villa. It was too great a threat of exposure to residents. Days became bland without the upbeat spirit that musicians brought to our building. But the show must go on. As the days became weeks, we found a safe way to bring the musicians back, but they needed to stay in the chapel. From there they would be broadcast over our in-house TV channel. No one was allowed in the chapel during the performance, and residents would watch from their rooms. It just was not the same.
As the infection rate has began to drop and we were preparing to allow people back into the building, we also started to think about how we could bring back live entertainment. We knew we couldn’t have everyone in the main dining room at once, so we needed to have another option for in-room viewing. The answer was to install a new TV channel with a connection in the dining room. And so that is what we did.
Beginning on Monday, March 15, 2021 we were able to bring entertainers back into the dining room. Keeping residents socially distanced, we welcomed Mike Needleman back for our first live performance in over a year. We also broadcast him live to residents across Villa on our new channel. He played hits from the 1950’s and 1960’s like Bob Dylan, The Birds, and The Everly Brothers.
The residents who were in attendance in the main dining room tapped to the beat as smiles returned to their faces. Those who opted to watch in their rooms remarked how clear the picture was and how much they enjoyed it.
Villa St. Francis staff probably had the best reaction while Mike played. It filled our hearts to see our residents out and enjoying life. Masks can’t restrain our smiles. It feels amazing to see Villa getting back to normal. Thank you for your support during our efforts to reopen safely.
A Closer Look: Dining Services
Chris DiMaso | March 10, 2021
Learn more about Villa Life as we take a closer look at the dining services at Villa St. Francis. Learn how healthy doesn’t mean boring, and how residents have the ability to make decisions with their food choices.
A New Hope
Chris DiMaso | February 22, 2021
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” Romans 8:24
EEEyouch! Wait…that didn’t hurt. A sentiment close to that was shared time and time again on the morning of January 18th. Staff and residents lined up to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations. But whether the pinprick hurt, it paled in comparison to the anguish we have felt over the last 11 months.
It seemed like in a matter of one day we went from a bustling community to desolate hallways. The energy that families brought in with them dried up. The rejuvenation in our resident’s faces was gone. Masks replaced smiles, and gloves eclipsed handshakes. Villa was in lockdown.
Immediately hope pushed up from our hearts like daffodils through the snow. We began to look for ways to ease the pain, but also how to return to normal. We found new ways to play games like bingo. We adapted to window visits with families and bought iPads to facilitate video calls. We saw how technology and faith could be used together. With hope, we persevered, and we waited.
Good news came after the New Year, we had our vaccine clinic date! On a chilly Monday morning, the kind and gentle pharmacists from CVS came to administer the Pfizer vaccine. The first vaccine went to Angela Atchley, life enrichment coordinator. The excitement of watching a medical miracle come to Villa St. Francis renewed the vigor in us all. The needles delivered more than medicine, they injected us with a new hope.
On February 9th, our hope came to fruition. Families once again entered through our front doors and sat in the same room with their loved ones. The air was electric, and more than one tear was shed. As we move forward and look to the day that we can fully reopen, we ask for your continued support. Wear your mask. And when you can, get vaccinated.