Since Heritage President and CEO Lisa Haglund stepped into her position in April, #HeritageStrong has been the battle cry of Heritage employees nationwide in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Haglund shared, “The work our employees do each day is heroic, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have worked tirelessly. During this difficult, and often stressful time, they and their families have sacrificed so that our residents can continue to receive the same compassionate care Hearthstone has always been known for.”
Recently, Hearthstone Communities, a Heritage affiliate in Woodstock, Illinois experienced several cases of COVID-19, which impacted both staff and residents.
“Through blanket testing of residents and staff, we learned of both employees and staff who were exhibiting absolutely no symptoms, but were testing positive as carriers of the COVID-19 virus at Hearthstone,” Jeremy Rutter, Heritage Chief Clinical Officer, said. He continued, “Any resident who tested positive, but exhibited no symptoms was still placed into our COVID-19 quarantine unit, which is designed to continue to care with our residents with dedicated staff, so that no others are exposed. Any staff member who tested positive was immediately quarantined and was not able to work.” Between staff assigned to the quarantine unit who were unable to work in any other locations, and those staff who were quarantined and unable to work, Heritage made the decision to increase staffing levels at Hearthstone.
While working with contract agencies to fill gaps, Heritage learned that staff members located in Chautauqua County were prepared to mobilize to travel and help their Heritage family members in Illinois if needed. Mike Waddington and Shameka Batchelor, registered nurses at The Park in Jamestown, NY, were two of the first to volunteer to go. Waddington and Batchelor will both be at Hearthstone for the next several weeks caring for Hearthstone residents. While on site, Heritage will provide their lodging and food, hazard pay, and additional paid personal time off when they return home as another thank you for their service.
CEO Haglund was not surprised by the willingness of her staff “#HeritageStrong is all about the members of our entire Heritage family across the United States. We support and care for each other – Heritage is home, for all of us, and we keep that theme in everything we do. Family cares for family. We were both blessed and so thankful for our staff members who volunteered to go work with Hearthstone for the next several weeks. Their dedication to both Heritage and all of our residents, while putting themselves at risk in the field, is something we are both proud of, and extremely grateful for.”
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