Dr. William Palumbo, DCN, MS, RD, CDN, LNHA, Regional Director of Operations
In senior living, we often walk the “road of life” with our residents, regularly enjoying each family’s happy moments, as we celebrate joy, health or a special event. Walking with them through the COVID-19 pandemic has been a different kind of journey – one marked by fear, sickness and for some, untimely death.
It takes a special kind of person to do this work. And it takes a whole family – or maybe we call it a village – to help them through it. When I think back on a season, I’d like to first remember how this team came together to give strength to each other and care partners.
I’ll remember the relentless leadership of administrators, physicians, nurses and HR professionals who expertly navigated during this turbulent time. Through their strength, they share calmness, rational thinking and hope.
I’ll remember Morrison Living leaders instilling confidence that we’d have the essential resources we need to feed our residents and protect our teams. Their constant communications kept us informed and gave us each an awareness of the strength we shared as “family” members. We were never alone. We were informed and resourced and able to stand up to the emotional and physical toll ahead of us. We developed a new awareness that family is a source of stamina, strength, perseverance and drive (not to mention face masks, sanitizer, and bottled water).
None of us will forget the moment we heard that our regional VP, Joseph Viviano, had caught the virus. If it hadn’t been before, that certainly made things personal. Joseph is a vibrant leader who has shown us that “together we can accomplish more.” So many prayers and messages flooded the region. It was obvious that he’d supported and mentored so many. And it wasn’t just Joe – we had other team members also fighting the disease.
For all of them – we knew we needed to make them proud. We needed to step up to the plate to hit a grand slam. And that is what we did. We are deeply grateful that Joseph fully recovered after a long illness. And we send our prayers to the families of those who didn’t.
Life in our communities goes on – and so will the challenges. I’d like to share with you some of the advice I shared with our own team, in the hope it will bring you strength and comfort.
- Know that to be an instrument of peace, and we’ll all need to sacrifice.
- Sometimes we give of ourselves for a moment. But there are times, like now, when we need to brace ourselves for a longer haul.
- To offer comfort, we’ll need to be a bottomless source of compassion for our residents and their families – especially when they’re suffering.
- Showing true care requires us to be wholly present with people, our colleagues, our care partners, and with residents.
- Being wholly present requires us to be humble – to put aside our own needs and fears.
I take heart knowing that together we can overcome any obstacle. And with determination and teamwork, we are warriors in this army.
William is just one of the many heroes honored and celebrated in the publication “No Better Place to Be: The Faces of Senior Living.” We know many caregivers, foodservice workers, dietitians, and more that have played a critical role in serving and protecting our beloved seniors. For more inspiring stories, read the full publication.