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Standing with Seniors: Assisted Living Facility Harbor Chase of Vero Beach Navigates COVID-19

provided by Harbor Retirement Associates

So, it’s safe to say that COVID-19 took most of the world by surprise, and one of the first places it showed up on the Treasure Coast was at assisted living facility Harbor Chase of Vero Beach.

Now, almost four months later, and with case numbers rising in Florida, we wanted to check in to see how they’re moving forward.

DE: You know, it’s a learning curve – we are all facing this in real time at the same time… but Harbor Chase of Vero Beach – we are COVID-free and we are now accepting residents and people are able to move in…

That’s Dan Ellis of Harbor Retirement Associates which owns and operates 36 assisted and independent living, memory care and skilled nursing facility residences throughout 12 states with more opening soon. Several are on the Treasure Coast, and their headquarters are in Vero Beach.

DE: Since March 12, we ceased visitation with the exception of essential employees. So we actually adopted protocol and exceeded those recommendations provided to us by the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to effectively reduce the transmission of the virus and manage individuals who become infected.

In addition to washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks, caregivers are screened before and during their shifts for high temperature and other abnormalities, and testing is done every two weeks.

DE: We have discontinued use of our lobby and communal areas and dining spaces, our fitness classes.

We ask how residents are coping with the isolation.

DE: I think that our residents are understanding of what’s happening in the world around them and they want to be as proactive with their own health, and I am sure that they would love to resume life as other individuals would wish to, but they’re still living a very, you know, full life.

Credit provided by Harbor Retirement Associates
Room service!

To connect with loved ones, they have virtual video visits. For fun, they have hallway karaoke. And Ellis says they enjoy… 

DE: …really great amenities and food! We have bar cart service that is providing premium liquor and wine right to the residents’ room for happy hour – they can have it come down their hallway. We have live music or artists who come to the outdoor communal spaces to play live music. We’ve had wonderful drive-by parades.

The latest was just this past Sunday for Father’s Day.

(sound of Father’s Day parade)

They even sent a food cart out into the community to feed first responders.

DE: The pandemic has highlighted our country’s shortage of personal protective equipment, life saving equipment, intensive care hospital beds, and health care professionals.

As a result, they created a campaign called Standing with Seniors which asks that Congress expand section 3215 of the CARES Act to provide reasonable liability protection during this health crisis to all health care professionals and frontline facilities, like Harbor Chase.

So, as we continue to see the numbers rise in our communities, Ellis says to keep our guard up. Wash hands, social distance. Wear masks. Especially since people with no symptoms can spread the virus.

DE: I think it’s extremely important for any person that we really pay attention to the recommendations that have been provided by the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. These are experts in their fields on how to reduce transmission, prevent, manage, and maintain overall health for everybody.

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