Food Services Workers Disproportionately Put Out of Work Due to Covid-19 Could be Redeployed to Fill Vital Senior Care Employment Needs

Long-term care facilities, which have long struggled with staffing shortages, could be the answer for food and hospitality service workers in need of immediate and long-term stable employment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To curb the spread of the virus, hundreds of thousands of food service and hospitality workers have lost their jobs, as government-mandated shutdowns of restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses were issued to enforce social distancing policies. Even when shelter-in-place mandates are over, it stands to reason many restaurants will not reopen and their resurgence will take time.

The pool of workers who have been displaced by this pandemic is growing with New York’s Union Square Hospitality Group laying off about 80% of its workforce and nearly 6.65 million Americans filing for unemployment in the past two weeks. This number is expected to continue to increase, as the national response to coronavirus strengthens resulting in more COVID-19-related layoffs.

The need for long-term care workers is on the rise, as the direct care workforce is projected to add more than 1.3 million new jobs between 2018 and 2028 according to PHI, an association for long-term care workers. This projection doesn’t yet take into consideration the number of jobs needed now during this pandemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations. An additional 6.9 million direct care jobs will also need to be filled during that time as existing workers leave the field or exit the workforce.

Senior care facilities have an opportunity to both meet an emerging need and fill the ever-growing gap in quality staffing, while simultaneously providing employment for those whose jobs were cut to protect our healthcare delivery system and the most vulnerable in our society. These facilities can offer workers steady full-time or part-time shifts and the opportunity to receive certifications in specialized areas of care during this interim.

Long-term care work can be an attractive option for workers looking to build upon their skills. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) are an ideal starting point for food service and hospitality workers looking to pursue a career in long-term care. CNAs assist patients with daily living activities that require the same level of attention to detail needed in the hospitality and food service industries.

Traditionally, CNA certification requires participants to enroll in local programs, complete a state-approved education course and competency exam. As the national response to COVID-19 increases, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has relaxed its CNA licensure requirements during the pandemic, making it easier for new staffers to begin assisting residents and patients with care.

CMS is also removing requirements that mandated specific state licensure. While not permanent, these relaxed regulations will expedite the process of becoming a CNA, allowing staff members to gain new skills quickly and putting them on a direct path towards more employment opportunities.

There is an opportunity for senior care facilities to act fast to match displaced hospitality and food service workers with senior care and health care jobs that will utilize their skills and allow them to thrive professionally.

Food service and hospitality workers already possess many of the same skills that are needed to be successful in senior care delivery. At the core of these industries is the need for exceptional customer service and ability to work to and meet standards. Just as these workers strive to give customers a premier dining experience, long-term care workers seek to provide residents with high-quality care and comfort. Likewise, both occupations require a strong attention to detail, cleanliness and hygiene, an eye for presentation and the ability to think quickly and problem-solve.

These foundational skills can translate well into care-based settings and will maintain operations as new personnel receive more job-specific training.

Providers looking to hire new staff and retain current employees should offer evenhanded scheduling and the option for split shifts, to ensure that staff is getting proper rest and residents’ needs are being met.

Providers should also consider digital avenues to bolster recruitment. Building a communication with local hospitality union groups could provide opportunities to offer digital ads directly with that workforce. Hosting a digital job fair will also give prospective candidates an opportunity to learn more about the benefits of working in a long-term care setting and ask questions about the industry.

Increasing care connectivity through telehealth options will better utilize staff and be attractive to hospitality workers looking for new employment opportunities. Telehealth systems that allow for residents to receive virtual clinical visits will mitigate exposure to bacteria and viruses and give staff extra time to complete their workloads. When time is of the essence for residents and staff, virtual visits deliver on both fronts.

As senior care facilities cater to those who are most vulnerable to this virus, they have a responsibility to help the food service and hospitality workers whose jobs and welfare were sacrificed to protect the healthcare delivery system. Hiring restaurant and hospitality workers wherever possible is a way to both meet an industry need and help those who have great skills and need opportunities.

A Backup Plan: Using Central Station Monitoring to Ensure Every Call is Answered

It is the middle of the night. Joyce from Room 118 gets up to answer the call of nature, and falls in the bathroom. She presses her pendant button. What happens next?

The answer is, it depends. Usually, the call is received, and an aide arrives at Joyce’s room to help her. The speed at which this occurs can depend on how reliable and robust the call light system is.

But sometimes there are added complications:

  • Perhaps Joyce lives in an Assisted Living community that is lightly staffed late at night, as a cost-saving measure. Unfortunately, at the same time that Joyce needs help, the staff are busy answering other residents, which means Joyce will wait where she’s fallen until the staff is done.
  • Perhaps Joyce lives in a low-income senior housing unit, and there’s nobody staffed to even answer the call. She’ll just have to wait on the floor until tomorrow morning at 8am when she receives the automated check-in phone call. When she doesn’t answer the phone, she’ll be added to a list for someone to check on later in the day.
  • Maybe Joyce lives in Independent Living. Normally there’s someone at the night desk to receive calls, but tonight the WiFi went out, and push button calls weren’t received by the system during the 30-minute outage. Unfortunately, Joyce’s call will go unanswered.
  • Or maybe there’s an extraordinarily high volume of calls that come in right before Joyce’s call. Unfortunately, she will simply have to wait, hoping that someone received her call.

Not only is Joyce fearful and agitated, she is now at risk for dehydration, pressure sores, increased blood pressure and heightened anxiety. All of these factors can lead to a potential bad outcome for Joyce.

What can be done? How can we ensure that all residents get the help and support when they need it?

Introducing: RCare’s Central Station Monitoring Service

No matter how great your staff and your nurse call system, sometimes you need backup to make sure that none of your residents slip through the cracks. RCare has partnered with Security Central, a nationally licensed service provider with a track record for excellence and reliability. Security Central has been in business for 57 years. Their staff is available 24/7 to answer the phones, and based on the pre-set protocols for your community, to take appropriate action.

With the integration of central station monitoring into your RCare nurse call system, you can be sure that every call is answered. Depending on your pre-set protocols, the operator may first contact the resident to confirm that it isn’t a false alarm and that help is really needed. Once this has been determined, the operator will gather additional essential information before contacting emergency responders.

No matter how great your staff and your nurse call system, sometimes you need backup to make sure that none of your residents slip through the cracks.

Or, your protocol may call for a series of escalating calls to be made, e.g. first to the on-call staff, then to the facility director, then to family members, and finally to 911 (when needed). It’s entirely flexible and customizable to fit your community, your caregivers and your administrators.

You might decide that any call that has not been answered by staff after a predefined period of time can be escalated to the central monitoring system.

Not to mention, if your community experiences a tech emergency, RCare’s cellular failover backup means calls are received even during power and WiFi outages.

Who benefits from Central Station Monitoring?

From Independent Living, to Assisted Living, to Skilled Nursing, to Affordable Housing communities, Central Station Monitoring can provide endless benefits. The integration with RCare’s nurse call system ensures that room-level information is routed immediately to someone who can help.

RCare’s Central Station Monitoring works over a standard phone line, IP, or cellular. Cellular is also available as a backup option for phone lines or IP setups.

Emergencies happen and response time is critical. RCare’s integration with Security Central provides a proven, cost-effective model to provide critical, life-saving services for your residents when it matters the most.

Want to learn more? Contact RCare.

OneDay Partners with Sherpa CRM to Strengthen Community and Resident Connection Within the Senior Living Industry

(DALLAS, Texas) – OneDay, the leading mobile platform used by senior living communities to generate videos and foster communication and connection between loved ones, announces their latest partnership and integration with Sherpa, a best-in-class sales enablement solution and CRM for the senior living industry.

OneDay’s storytelling platform offers question-and-answer prompts, records videos of senior living community residents, and shares the videos with family members. The first-of-its-kind technology brings families closer together through stories and allows senior living communities to provide more personalized, meaningful care for residents. For sales teams, a personalized OneDay video helps form a stronger connection with a prospective resident and their families. The OneDay/Sherpa integration gives your team a dynamic new tool for engaging prospects and driving sales.

Making the transition to a senior living community is a significant and often emotional decision. By blending the engaging, persuasive video medium created by OneDay with the robust, specialized CRM in Sherpa, this integration creates a seamless experience and powerful tool for senior living community sales teams. The integration offers efficiencies in marketing and sales, freeing up community teams to spend more quality time providing care and compassion to residents and their families.

“We’re very excited to partner with Sherpa, a company that shares a common value with OneDay for offering solutions to create meaningful connections between senior living residents and their communities. Establishing deeper relationships and broadening communication with residents builds a culture of trust and personalized living experience which can both boost sales and ultimately, resident satisfaction,” said Clint Lee, president and co-founder of OneDay.

The Spires at Berry College Welcomes First Residents

ROME, Georgia – This month The Spires at Berry College, a continuing care retirement community on the campus of Berry College, welcomed its first residents.

The community began construction in October of 2018 and has opened 55 of the 144 apartment home units. The 26 free-standing cottage homes will open on June 15. More than 70% of the community is pre-sold at this time, and residents that have been part of the Charter Member Group are planning their moves over the next several months.

The Spires was planned by the Berry College Board of Trustees several years ago, and the Board of Directors is excited to see the community come to fruition. Dr. Steve Briggs, President of Berry College has been intimately involved with the community since its beginning, and he is looking forward to welcoming his mother, Betty Briggs, this week.

“Serving on the Lavender Mountain Senior Living Board of Directors since its creation in September of 2015 has been a joy and a privilege,” said Sue Anderson, Board President. “The leadership of Berry College had a dream to build a world-class continuing care retirement community on their campus, and they have done it. As with everything that Berry College does, it was planned and executed with great care and precision.”

The Spires is a gated, private community for those ages 55+. The Spires Commons areas include a fourth-floor Club Room overlooking Eagle Lake and Lavender Mountain, three dining venues, an indoor saltwater swimming pool, a Fitness Room, a beauty salon and spa, Arts Studio and a large multi-purpose room for special events.

The community will open the Apartments East, Longleaf Lodge, and Magnolia Place Healthcare Center on October 1.

“There are many potential challenges when creating a community of this size,” said Brian Erb, Vice President of Finance for Berry College and Treasurer of Lavender Mountain Senior Living. “To be able to open this community on time and within budget despite all the obstacles of COVID-19 and wet weather this spring is a huge testament to the team involved in this project.”

The Board of Directors engaged Greenbrier Development, a senior living development firm headquartered in Dallas, TX to lead the construction, development, marketing, and finance of The Spires. Greenbrier Senior Living will oversee all operations. Brasfield & Gorrie was the general contractor for the project, and Ziegler Financial provided funding for the community.

Part of the key to the success of The Spires is hiring the right team members to lead the community. Buster Wright, Board Member for Lavender Mountain Senior Living, was an important part of interviewing this team.

“When looking for the right leaders for The Spires, we wanted to find people who had a great passion for senior adults as well as a great passion for students,” said Wright. “I’m delighted with the folks that have joined this team.”

Laurie Steber was chosen as Executive Director of The Spires, and she has been working the last seven months to gather the executive team to lead this exciting new community. Laurie moved to Rome, GA from Chapel Hill, NC for this opportunity. Most recently, Laurie served as the Executive Director at Preston Pointe, a luxury retirement community in Cary, NC.

Steber has worked in retirement living for the past 15 years, but her entire career has been focused on serving customers. She started her career in Mobile, Alabama where she owned a bed and breakfast. “I always feel like my community should feel like a big bed and breakfast – residents should feel comfortable asking for anything, and our job is to make their lives as wonderful as possible,” says Steber.

Opening The Spires in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was not ideal, but residents have been planning their moves for several months and are ready and willing to move to The Spires. Part of this readiness came from extensive preparations by the team at The Spires to ensure the cleanliness and health safety of our residents and guests.

“As of today, Georgia remains under shelter-in-place for people 65+, so we are limiting guests and visitors to come to The Spires,” said Laurie Steber, Executive Director. All guests and team members must complete a health check to enter the community, and everyone is required to wear a face mask in all common area spaces and practice social distancing. Hand sanitation stations are readily available throughout the campus and our Housekeeping team has been sanitizing all common area spaces and high touch areas three times a day.

“We are going to operate on an overly-cautious plan at this time,” said Steber. “Within a short period of time, we will provide COVID-19 testing throughout the campus to ensure everyone is staying healthy.”

Nick Lancaster is the Healthcare Administrator at The Spires. Nick has provided a great deal of local knowledge to develop the healthcare program at The Spires. Magnolia Place Healthcare Center will provide private apartments for Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing Care, and Rehabilitation Care. The community has partnered with Floyd Medical Center and Dr. Amanda Reeves to be the in-house physician. In addition, Functional Pathways will provide Rehabilitation Services for residents on an in-patient and out-patient basis.

In addition to Nick Lancaster, Laurie has hired Lemarr Gass to lead the Accounting Team, Tracy Cochran as Director of Nursing, Chandler Lawrence to serve as Lifestyles Director, Dianne Willerson to oversee Human Resources, and Kevin Burges to manage Housekeeping.

Kasey Cromer is the Dining Services Director. Executive Chef Vernon Browning, the former Executive Chef for Berry College, is leading the three Dining Venues at The Spires: Eagle’s Landing Lounge, Cliffside Casual Dining, and Lakeside Formal Dining. Residents at The Spires receive monthly meal credits to enjoy in any of the dining venues. Menu items will range from a full breakfast in the mornings to sandwiches and salads for lunch and a full array of dinner entrees. When possible, the kitchen team will use local and seasonal ingredients to create ever-changing menus at The Spires.

“Berry College is known for a long-standing tradition of producing agricultural products like honey, produce and beef,” said Vernon Browning, Executive Chef. “We’ll be taking advantage of these outstanding local products whenever possible.”

One big distinction that sets the team at The Spires apart from other communities of its kind is the presence of Berry College students that serve the residents of The Spires. Several student workers are part of the Gate of Opportunity Scholars Program and are required to work at least 30 hours per week at The Spires. These students serve in various roles from Concierge to Server to Housekeeping.

“My past experience working in the Berry College Welcome Center led me to this position at The Spires, said Ahjanayyah Warren, a rising sophomore at Berry College studying Psychology. “When I first heard about The Spires coming to Berry College I thought, ‘why in the world would we want to have retirees on our campus?’ Now that I am here and meeting all of these special residents, it is so obvious. I can’t wait to learn and grow with these wonderful people,” said Warren.

Residents moving to The Spires are predominately from the Rome area, but several residents are returning to Berry College after being away for several years. Ted and Beverly Fox lived in the Atlanta area for the past several decades, but returning to Berry was an obvious choice for Ted.

“I worked on this campus as one of ‘Martha’s Boys’ back in the 1950s, and I remember Possum Trot,” said Mr. Fox. “Now coming to The Spires, I feel like I am moving into heaven with all my good friends around and the beauty of Berry College to enjoy. What really makes it nice is having the students around.”

More than 80% of the residents of The Spires are not affiliated with Berry College, but they have come to think of Berry College as their new home campus. The residents look forward to a time when they can enjoy all the amenities of the college – including auditing classes alongside students.


About The Spires at Berry College
The Spires at Berry College is a visionary new Continuing Care Retirement Community that opened June 1, 2020 alongside pristine Eagle Lake at the foot of Lavender Mountain, nestled on the campus of Berry College in Rome, Georgia – “America’s most beautiful college campus.” The Spires will offer the security of accessible healthcare services, including renowned medical centers in downtown Rome only minutes away, and spacious apartments and cottages equipped with lifestyle amenities. The Spires will provide lakeside senior living for the un-retiring retirees. The community is being built by Brasfield & Gorrie Construction Company and started construction in October of 2018. For more information or to apply for a position at The Spires, please visit or call (706) 368-9955.

The Spires is a gated, private community that is currently closed to outside visitors to protect the health of our residents. Appointments can be made by calling the Information Center at (706) 368-9955 or emailing

HCA, Selfhelp Community Services to Expand Pioneering ‘Virtual Senior Center’ for All NY Home Care Patients Amid COVID-19 Social Isolation

The distress of social isolation and technology’s power to help overcome this divide are well understood by all New Yorkers amid the COVID-19 health emergency. Older adults, especially those who are homebound, are uniquely susceptible to these perils – now more so than ever.

To help, the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) was awarded a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to leverage Selfhelp Community Services’ Virtual Senior Center (VSC) web-based platform so that all home care providers in New York State can offer the VSC to their patients.

“The Governor is calling for New York to ‘reimagine’ critical services with a focus on connective technologies that help solve needs fundamentally exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” said HCA President and CEO Al Cardillo. “Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior Center has already ‘reimagined’ social services, using powerful technology to connect medically vulnerable older adults and individuals who are homebound or isolated.”

“We are proud to work with Selfhelp under the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation project to make this robust platform available to all home care agencies and patients across New York State during the present crisis and as a lasting solution for social isolation concerns among older adults,” Cardillo added. “We thank the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for making this possible.”

Research shows that isolation in older adults and persons with disabilities or chronic conditions is linked to higher risks or exacerbations of many physical and mental health conditions. COVID-19 and social distancing requirements have made this kind of isolation a fixture of everyday life for New Yorkers in far greater and more extensive ways, especially for the 4.3 million New Yorkers age 60 and older – a population that is projected to reach 5.3 million by 2030.

Home care providers deliver health, assistive, nutritional, and social supports to older adults and others at home. Selfhelp Community Services provides home care, affordable housing, and social services to 20,000 older and vulnerable adults in New York City and Long Island. Their Virtual Senior Center enables homebound older adults to participate virtually in live classes, tour world-famous museums, interact with peers, engage in wellness activities, and, most importantly, expand their social network. Participants can log into the VSC whenever they choose, review the weekly calendar, and join classes that interest them. Independent evaluation has found that joining the VSC has multiple emotional and physical health benefits: it reduces isolation and loneliness and increases connectedness and self-reported health status.

“We are pleased to be bringing the Virtual Senior Center (VSC) to seniors throughout New York State,” said Stuart C. Kaplan, Selfhelp CEO. “Our VSC is a lifeline for homebound older adults who participate in our live virtual classes every week. We know that joining the VSC has emotional and physical health benefits: it reduces social isolation and loneliness and promotes social inclusion. We hear from our clients like Rose who shared: ‘You learn stuff. It makes you happy. I don’t know what we’d do without it.’ Or Yetta who said: ‘As a retired teacher, I love being able to continue learning. I couldn’t learn from other people without the VSC because I’m homebound.’”

He added: “We are enormously grateful to the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for this grant that will enable the collaboration between Selfhelp and the Home Care Association of New York State to expand the VSC, providing thousands of older adults receiving home care with engaging interactive classes, including a substantial health curriculum that will promote physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.”

On this initiative, HCA, Selfhelp and home care organizations statewide look forward to further partnering with government agencies, including the state’s Department of Health (DOH) and Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), as well as Managed Long Term Care plans that provide care management and authorizations for a wide array of long term care and community-based services under New York’s Medicaid program.

New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) Acting Director Greg Olsen said: “Social isolation was already a serious public health problem for older individuals who have limited social connections, and the COVID-19 virus has made this problem exponentially worse. HCA’s grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to expand Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior Center to all home care providers and their clients statewide will help thousands of older New Yorkers engage in health and wellness opportunities, participate in cultural activities, and stay socially connected. This innovative technological partnership is another example of how organizations across New York State are working together to provide critical services that improve the lives of older adults and their families.”

More information about Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior Center is here:

HCA and Selfhelp will soon be announcing a webinar introducing the platform to home care agencies.

Metro Physical & Aquatic Therapy Addressing Senior Living Communities’ Needs to Reduce the Number of Providers Entering Their Facilities

GARDEN CITY, NY-  Metro Physical & Aquatic Therapy (“Metro Physical Therapy”), a leading provider of comprehensive therapy and wellness services with locations across Long Island and in Florida, is providing a sound solution to senior living communities’ current goal of limiting the number of healthcare providers entering their facilities. Given all of the pandemic-related uncertainties and risks posed to residents of assisted living communities, nursing homes, and memory care facilities, administrators have been taking every precaution to protect their residents. By giving them the option to have one provider such as Metro Physical Therapy offering both Part A and Part B homecare services, these senior living communities can significantly reduce their exposure.

“These are extremely challenging times for everyone, but especially for those charged with caring for and protecting the lives of those most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus among which seniors clearly are,” stated Metro Physical Therapy CEO Michael Mayrsohn, DPT, OCS.  Through a partnership we have established with Certified Home Health Agencies, we are able to significantly reduce the number of providers entering communities and the associated risks, including potential contamination from workers traveling to and from many different locations.”

Mayrsohn also noted that within this model of care, Metro Physical Therapy can place clinicians that are exclusive to a community, offering yet another layer of protection. He continued, “We can assure the continuity of care in transitioning services from Part A to Part B, optimize long-term treatment planning for reduced hospitalizations, and efficiently align treatment philosophies and plans between nursing and physical therapy. It’s a much more effective model of care on multiple fronts.” Mayrsohn added that under certain circumstances, Metro Physical Therapy also can assist patients whose insurance is not taken by other providers.”

To discuss your senior living facility’s needs relating to residents’ physical therapy and Metro Physical Therapy’s single-provider service, contact: Michael Mayrsohn, DPT, OCS at: 516-745-8050 or email:

Humangood Launches Affiliation Rebranding In Philadelphia Market

LAFAYETTE HILL, Pa. — In June 2019, Presby’s Inspired Life proudly affiliated with HumanGood, a nonprofit senior living organization headquartered in Pleasanton, California. Today, as part of the continued affiliation plan, four HumanGood Life Plan Communities — Rydal Waters, Rydal Park, The Mansion at Rosemont and Spring Mill Pointe — and Presby’s 36 Affordable Housing communities will officially adopt the HumanGood logo and branding assets, along with newly designed websites. The affiliated organization became the sixth largest national nonprofit senior living provider.

As part of the rebranding, and to better distinguish communities located in Lafayette Hill and on the Main Line, Spring Mill is now named “Spring Mill Pointe,” and Rosemont is “The Mansion at Rosemont.” Collectively, both communities have 80 years of experience serving older adults in the Philadelphia region.

“While we recognize that we are living in uncertain times, HumanGood prides itself on continuing to deliver memorable experiences in creative ways that inspire the best lives possible — and we do this every day on behalf of our residents and team,” said Sarah Jolles, corporate executive director, marketing and sales for HumanGood. “Our number one priority is and always will be the residents we serve in our communities across the country. We are truly proud to serve the Philadelphia region.”

In addition, Rydal Waters, a brand-new cottage community expansion of the Rydal Park Life Plan Community located in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, is welcoming new residents moving in to the community this month and offering enhanced innovation features. Rydal Waters is one of the only senior living communities in the Philadelphia region that offers smart home and smart wellness capabilities, including Smart Home Hub, Smart Thermostats, Smart Lighting and Smart Scales — among other features.

Lifespace Communities Appoints Nicholas Harshfield as CFO

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA (MAY 18, 2020) – Lifespace Communities is pleased to announce the appointment of Nicholas “Nick” Harshfield to the position of Chief Financial Officer effective July 1, 2020. Harshfield brings more than 30 years of financial experience to the role, 15 years of which are in senior living. He will be replacing long time CFO Larry
Smith who will retire after serving Lifespace for more than 17 years.

“While we are honored to have Nick joining our Lifespace team, we will miss Larry as he retires,” said Jesse Jantzen, President and CEO of Lifespace Communities. “Larry is the epitome of a servant leader, having delayed his retirement to serve as interim President and CEO in 2019 in addition to his CFO responsibilities. On behalf of the Board and all of Lifespace Communities, we want to thank Larry for his dedication and wish him all the best in retirement.”

“Our organization is fortunate to have Nick stepping in to join our Lifespace team,” Jantzen said. “Nick’s robust financial background, his passion for senior living, and his heart for serving others make him an ideal fit for our Lifespace family.”

During his 30-year career, Harshfield held executive leadership positions in four senior living organizations with a focus on developing and implementing strategic plans, integrating technology systems, securing financing for critical development projects and providing recommendations for acquisitions, divestitures, and new business lines. “I am excited and honored to join the Lifespace family, and eager to begin this journey supporting the leadership team, our team members, and
our residents in shaping the future of Lifespace Communities.” said Nick Harshfield.

RCare’s Rapid Deployment Kit Fills Nurse Call Need for UMass Temporary Hospital

The Challenge:
UMass Memorial Hospital had a problem. At the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was being flooded with patients, and needed to expand capacity, fast.

The Solution:
To convert the 50,000 square foot Exhibit Hall of the DCU Center, a convention center and arena, into a “pop-up” temporary field hospital, to handle the overflow of patients.

The Timeline:
They had just ten days. They finished in eight.

The Story:
The DCU Center is an indoor arena and convention center in downtown Worcester, MA. In April, its Exhibition Hall was converted to a field hospital to help nearby UMass Memorial Hospital handle the overflow of COVID-19 patients, those sick enough to require hospitalization, but not sick enough to require ICU care or a ventilator. It was repurposed to act as both a field hospital led by UMass, and a shelter for homeless people who tested positive for the disease.

Despite the unconventional setting, with its many challenges, the quality of care needed to be top-notch, and that included the nurse call system. It had to be quick to install, and completely reliable, because lives would depend on it.

Signet Electronic Systems, a trusted RCare integrator, used RCare’s Rapid Development Kit (RDK) nurse call solution to help UMass create the temporary hospital. The installation was quick, smooth and successful.

Signet has a long-standing relationship with UMass Memorial Health Care. It installs the majority of the beds in both of their Worcester campuses as well as satellite locations, with high-end wired nurse call solutions, in addition to managing other systems such as public address and master clocks. They knew they could count on RCare for a solution that works.

Rapid Deployment Kit nurse call system includes a touchscreen server, one pendant for each patient, and four pagers. No internet connection is needed for the system, and no phone lines. The system is designed to be plug and play, and is pre-programmed to be ready to use right out of the box. One RCare RDK is fully programmed for up to 40 patients and 4 caregivers, however it can be expanded with RCare’s Expansion Kits. Patient beds are outfitted with clip-on placards that correspond to patient call buttons, so caregivers can see which patients are calling. RCare’s G4 platform provides best-in-class range to cover large campuses and deepen building penetration, which allows it to be reliable in any setting.

The UMass temporary hospital was created in a 50,000 sq ft exhibition hall with cube-type barriers separating patient spaces. Nothing could be permanently mounted. The server was placed behind folding tables that nurses use for charting, on a box, with the paging encoder on top of it. Locators were hung on centrally-located poles with tie wraps. The server and paging encoder were plugged into a network switch with a patch cable. Pendants were given to the staff for distribution to patients as they were admitted. The openness of the space proved to be a benefit for signal transmission, allowing calls to be initiated from a pendant and received the full length of the space.

The system was installed overnight, and was completed and tested the following morning. Mark Roy, Senior Client Executive at Signet, described the scene.

“Everyone was in there doing everything at the same time. Hospital folks were setting up computers, networking and other technical infrastructure, pharmacy was loading Picsys machines, Biomed was setting up all their equipment, contractors were running O2 infrastructure, and news crews were there at the same time, documenting the whole thing.

Despite the tight schedule, Mark praised the UMass staff, who were very helpful, and provided everything needed in record time.

UMass returned the compliment. Sean Grady, Unit Coordinator for UMass Memorial said this about the installation:

“The RCare rollout was probably the best of any  vendor rollout involved with the DCU project. From project management to technical install, it could not have gone any more smoothly. I can tell you that the nurse call system has worked great for us at the field hospital we have set up in Worcester.”

RCare is proud to be part of the solution for this ambitious project. Our Rapid Deployment Nurse Call Kit (RDK) is a plug-and-play, portable, pre-programmed nurse call system in a box that can be set up in hours instead of days, in a situation lacking standard infrastructure, while providing the critical, reliable communications required in a hospital setting, even a non-traditional one.

OZ Architecture Releases Insight Report on Future of Senior Living Design

DENVER, CO–OZ Architecture, an award-winning national architecture and design firm, has released the “Designing for Emergency Preparedness Insight Report,” which outlines design considerations that can help reduce the spread of disease and infection in older adult communities.

In recent years, many older adult communities have shifted away from the healthcare-oriented design of skilled nursing and hospitals in favor of spaces that provide a greater sense of community and emotional well-being. However, new design challenges have arrived as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, showing that older adult populations can be highly susceptible to disease and infection spread in common living communities.

The “Designing for Emergency Preparedness Insight Report” lays out multiple design solutions that can be implemented during an emergency to reduce the spread of disease. Specifically, it provides actionable design solutions that can help reduce the transmission of germs through architectural design that lends itself to the compartmentalization of residents and staff; mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; limiting outside sources from entering resident units, entering the community, or reducing the travel distance once inside; interior design solutions; and technology.

“COVID-19 will have a drastic and lasting impact on senior living communities and will forever change the way we design and build spaces for older adults,” said Jami Mohlenkamp, principal at OZ Architecture, head of the firm’s Senior Living practice area and industry expert. “We can overcome many of the challenges associated with the spread of disease through design, while also continuing to create spaces that foster community and combat isolation. This report is designed to give operators a look at the future of design for older adult communities.”

Download the full report free here:

Headquartered in the vibrant RiNo district of Denver, and with studios in Boulder and Colorado Springs, OZ Architecture has been at the forefront of design since 1964. The OZ team includes over 165 architects, designers, strategists, and artists whose broad range of expertise and passions create a variety of project types on every continent.