With everyone’s nerves on high alert as the Novel Coronavirus continues to sweep through New York State, Senior Leadership at the Lutheran Campus in Jamestown have made sure to pay extra attention to the staff and their needs during this time of uncertainty. As a healthcare facility, nursing homes are considered an “essential business” so all staff report to work as usual, regardless of which department they work in.
“The COVID-19 public health crisis we’re facing as a society is unprecedented,” said Tom Holt, President and CEO for Lutheran. “Though our mission is to protect our residents from harm’s way at all times, we know there are some scary realities many of our staff are personally facing while not at work. Childcare, food access and meal planning, layoffs of loved ones, and other issues are plaguing our community and nation so we want to help them wherever we can,” said Holt.
Though recruitment of nursing staff remains a top priority, the Human Resources Department at Lutheran has become a hub of information on how employees can help their affected family members file for unemployment, find child care solutions in the community, information on Lutheran’s Employee Assistance Program and the SAFER program offered through The Resource Center, as well as other resources needed to supplement their altered daily life. To help ease the tension from a nutritional standpoint, Lutheran created a new program to help employees get access to meals for their families.
“We’ve all seen the store shelves and watched people hoard food during this time. It is putting a significant burden on our workers, especially those with young families. Many of them are putting in extra time to care for our residents and cannot make it to the store immediately after their shift. By then, many food supplies they need are gone,” said Holt. “As a company, we are fortunate enough to have access to food resources that others do not, so we’ve created Family Takeout Meals that our employees can sign up for regardless of position or income,” he said. The Family Takeout Meals are available free to all staff on Thursday of each week. The three-course meals feed up to four people and range from pasta and meatballs to roast turkey and stuffing. Lutheran’s Dietary Department created the new meal plan that over 175 employees took advantage of in week one. The program will continue until community workforce bans and travel restrictions are lifted.
From a wellness perspective, employees can also participate in Guided Meditation during their lunch breaks with the nursing home’s Music Therapist.
“Meditation and music is good for the body. It helps decrease stress and strengthens our immune systems,” said Elizabeth Dooher, NMT, MT-BC, Music Therapist at Lutheran. “In our short mindfulness sessions, we¬¬ scan areas of our body for discomfort, release any areas of tension, and allow the music to help us relax,” said Dooher. The sessions incorporate social distancing requirements where necessary. Dooher is also working to create Guided Meditation MP3 files for staff to listen to while not at work or who cannot make it during their break times.
“Our employees are the miracle workers here, going to extraordinary lengths for our residents and finding a sense of solidarity in the process. We have an obligation to protect them and their wellbeing just as much as our residents, and our entire leadership and management team is committed to doing that in the face of adversity,” said Holt.