At the beginning of the year, I had just started as the CEO of Montereau after serving as interim CEO in late 2019. I had a lot of different hopes and dreams about what the year would be like, but of course 2020 had other plans for us. This year has been a challenge for us all, but as we are about to turn the page for 2021, I am so very proud of our team and our residents at Montereau, and I’m grateful for the way everyone rallied to get through the year’s crisis.
I’m looking forward to bringing our community back together—“re-connecting” is the word that comes to mind. I know we still have a long way to go for the coronavirus, but with the vaccine on the horizon and the past nine months behind us, here are three reasons I’m optimistic about Montereau going into 2021.
When the coronavirus hit, we immediately jumped into action. We reached out to the Tulsa health department and were on calls with them almost daily to make sure we were doing everything we could to keep our staff and our residents safe. In this experience, I’m most proud of the way our nursing staff responded with well thought out emergency plans. We have a five-star nurse management team with a lot of experience, calm heads, and great passion for who they care for.
I want to take this space to say thank you to all of our residents and staff for working so hard to do what we needed to do to keep our community safe. Everyone on our staff has stepped up and done things outside our job descriptions. Meanwhile, our residents have been diligent about reading the communications and taking precautions without complaint.
We’ve gotten overwhelming feedback from residents that they were grateful to be here at Montereau, rather than isolated in their homes. Despite social distancing, we’ve maintained a sense of community, which has made all the difference.
At Montereau, we pride ourselves on providing top-tier service, which has looked different during the pandemic. Our approach early on, once we made it through the initial shutdown, was to create activities and events that residents can engage in safely. For instance, we opened our dining rooms for 50% capacity and started up small group exercise classes for those who felt comfortable.
We also started doing daily check-ins with some of our independent living residents to make sure they were doing okay. For some of the ladies who were used to going to salons every week, we had people come into their apartments to shampoo their hair. That’s about human connection, which is at the core of our philosophy of person-centered care. We wanted to make sure no one fell through the cracks or felt isolated, especially during a time when families couldn’t come in to visit in person.
In many ways, we became a one-stop shop for residents in terms of concierge services. We were picking up groceries, running errands, and more. At one point, our staff was delivering 500 meals a day to our residents on their doorsteps. Our kitchen wasn’t designed for that, so we had to be flexible and adapt.
The coronavirus was the dominant story of 2020, but we didn’t just drop everything we had in the works. In August, we finished a $2 million renovation to our commons area. We’re building three new custom garden homes which will be complete in January. We’ve continued our community outreach and engagement and we brought in a new dining vendor, which was really fortuitous because without them we would not have been able to pivot our meal offerings the way we did.
In the next year, we’ve got a capital campaign to build an Alzheimer’s resource center, and we’re in the initial planning phase in relation to renovating both the Chateau and the Abby, which are our long-term care and memory care residences. These capital projects will help us better serve our residents.
Looking ahead, the future is obviously unknown. If you had told me in January what this year would have been like, I’m not sure I would have believed it. But, I can say this year has increased my empathy. Outside of our professional lives, everyone has their burdens to bear, whether it’s caring for someone at home, or our children out of school, or a spouse out of a job.
The spirit I saw at Montereau this year, however, was one of resilience. Everyone came together, rolled up their sleeves, and did the work necessary to get through this year’s challenges. We couldn’t have made it through the year without everyone rallying together, and in 2021 I am most looking forward to re-connecting in person.
December 21, 2020