Covid-19 update from CEO, Doug Fresh.
A year in review, St. Mark Village CEO, Doug Fresh recaps the last 365 days of Covid-19. Doug reminds us of our long journey, illuminating our strength and how embracing one another has brought us through the past year. We will continue our safety precautions; screening, hand washing, and mask wearing until instructed otherwise. And, with 96% of Residents now vaccinated, we are getting back to normal as our community reaches herd immunity.
St. Mark Village is one of the safest places one can be, so join us. For more information about our safe and loving community, please contact our knowledgeable and friendly sales counselors at (727) 464-1750.
February 1, 2021
From the Frontline: The Vaccine and Renewed Hope for 2021
Happy New Year! We started 2021 with excitement about the Covid-19 vaccine, we also have a renewed hope that we can soon put the events of the past year behind us. 2020 is still fresh in our minds as we reflect on all we have been through as individuals, families, Residents, and Team Members this past year.
As the Covid-19 virus moved into our communities, there was fear of the unknown. On the frontline, concerns multiplied:
- How will this affect us?
- Will we be safe from this?
- How do we protect ourselves, families, and Residents?
- Will we get sick?
- Will our Team Members want to take the risk to continue working?
- Will everyone quit?
- What is going to happen?
As a Life Care Community with over 600 Residents and more than 350 Team Members, we prepared the best we knew how; procuring masks, gowns, gloves, shields, and more to protect our Team Members and Residents. This was an all-hands-on deck effort, as getting PPE was difficult in the beginning, though our Team was able to make it happen. Team Members from all departments and Residents learned how to prevent from contracting the virus and stop its spread. Our Team Members responded immediately and appropriately. We learned all we could, asked excellent questions, and practiced consistent and effective infection control. As a Team, we also tolerated multiple re-educations due to frequent changes regarding the most recent information and guidelines. With all of this going on, our team continued to provide the great care St. Mark Village is known for.
One of the unanticipated consequences of the virus that our Residents began to experience was the isolation. For many months our Residents were encouraged to stay in their rooms due to visitation restrictions. In an effort to keep them safe, they were unable to see their families and friends. Again, our Team Members stepped up to the challenge to help connect Residents with their families. There were Zoom video calls scheduled, window visits facilitated, and many phone calls. Residents also enjoyed several socially distanced parades where they could sit and see their families as they drove by holding signs of love and appreciation. Our Team Members from the nursing department who had the closest contact with Residents during this time also stepped in to fill the void with conversation, compassion, and support.
And through all the trials of 2020, our Team Members continued to show up. Things were made more difficult due to the virus, donning and doffing PPE, as well as passing trays in rooms in place of communal dining. With of the these challenges, our Team was always there, at times literally risking their own lives to ensure our Residents were getting the care they deserve. We owe a debt of gratitude to each and every one of our Team Members, as we would have never made it this far without their help and commitment to our Residents. Their dedication and compassion for the Residents they love continues to be evident as we transition to the next phase of overcoming this virus, the vaccination.
We ended 2020 on a positive note and had our first COVID-19 Vaccination clinic on December 17th. We are thankful that the Centers for Disease Contact (CDC) as well as local and state officials have prioritized our community in getting our Residents the vaccine so quickly and efficiently. It was exciting to see Team Members and Residents who had been through so much get their first vaccine. It has given our Team a renewed sense of hope and excitement. We are doing the right thing, for ourselves, our community, and our country. By the beginning of March, we will have completed three vaccination clinics for both Team Members and Residents at all levels of care.
We start 2021 with continued excitement about the COVID-19 vaccine, which brings great promise that one day soon we can all put this pandemic behind us. The experiences of the last year are fresh in our hearts and minds, and we remain grateful for the resilience and positivity of our Residents and Team Members. Witnessing Residents and Team Members literally roll up their sleeves, knowing that they were taking a brave and proactive step toward protecting themselves and our St. Mark Village family has been incredible. I feel honored to be among so many dedicated frontline workers and I do believe we are stronger as a Team because of it.
As we move toward brighter days ahead, there is still so much to learn about Covid-19. As we learn, we will continue to modify our evidenced based infection control program, continuing to practice enhanced measures to stop the spread of the virus. Importantly, even after our Team Members and Residents are fully vaccinated; mask wearing, social distancing, and other enhanced protocols won’t be going anywhere. Our societymust first reach herd immunity. As a Team, we’ll continue to stay the course and take the steps necessary to limit virus transmission until health authorities advise these efforts are no longer needed.
For questions about the Covid-19 vaccine as related to our Care Center Residents, families may call our Care Centers directly. For our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers, please contact Randall Rees, Care Centers Administrator at: (727) 785-2577 ext. 1744 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For Highland Lakes Assisted Living, please contact Sheila Kynion, Administrator at: (727) 785-2580 ext. 3003 or by email at: email@example.com. For all other questions please call (727) 785-2580. As always, families and friends may stay up-to-date with all things St. Mark Village with our in-house newsletter, the Lively Mark, which is available to view online at: www.stmarkvillage.org/lively-mark
January 8, 2021
Turning the Page to 2021
2020 has been a long difficult road. As we look back at the past year, we think about the special moments that brought us together (while safely distanced, of course), such as the many car parades that brought the Residents and families so much joy. Thanks to an updated technology infrastructure; birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries connected at high speeds and united families through telecommunications. And in case anyone missed it, St. Mark Village proudly celebrated 40 years of excellence. All of this was capped off with our biggest highlight of the year - the Covid-19 vaccine.
Never did we think Covid-19 would overstay its welcome into 2021, yet here we are a week into January still talking about it. As the Florida Department of Health reports a record high in positive cases since July, we make note of the silver lining and are so very thankful that our community has been recognized as a priority in the Covid-19 vaccine distribution process.
On Tuesday, January 5th, the Department of Health, Army National Guard, and Sunstar EMTs were back onsite to administer the second shot or "booster" to those Skilled Nursing Residents and Team Members that received the first vaccine dose on December 18th. Completing our first vaccine clinic with much success, we have begun our second clinic and we are hoping to schedule a third clinic for our Residents and Team Members in the near future.
We have come together to do the next right thing and we are now one step closer to putting our Covid days behind us. We will continue to celebrate those who have worked so hard to ensure the safety of the ones we hold dear.
For questions about the Covid-19 vaccine as related to our Care Center Residents, families may call our Care Centers directly. For our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers, please contact Randall Rees, Care Centers Administrator at: (727) 785-2577 ext. 1744 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For Highland Lakes Assisted Living, please contact Sheila Kynion, Administrator at: (727) 785-2580 ext. 3003 or by email at: email@example.com. For all other questions please call (727) 785-2580. As always, families and friends may stay up-to-date with all things St. Mark Village with our in-house newsletter, the Lively Mark, which is available to view online at: www.stmarkvillage.org/lively-mark
December 18, 2020
V-Day at St. Mark Village
Today is the day we have long waited for as our fight against Covid-19 reaches the next phase. Our most vulnerable population as well as many of our frontline workers received their Covid-19 vaccinations yesterday, Thursday, December 17th.
The Department of Health along with the Army National Guard and Sunstar EMTs were onsite to administer the vaccine to our Skilled Nursing Residents and Team Members. Our own CEO, Doug Fresh, was in line to show his support and confidence in the process, hoping to set an example of what he calls, “the next right thing to do.” Doug strongly encouraged St. Mark Village Team Members to stand in line with him and get the vaccine. As Doug reminds the team, “we are not doing this for ourselves, we are truly doing it for others; other people we live with, other people we work with, people we come in contact with. We all need to do the next right thing.”
We are excited about this truly historic event in the history of St. Mark Village. It has been a long road to get here. Together we look forward to the day when we can all put Covid-19 in our rear-view mirror. We will honor the ones we lost and celebrate those who have worked so hard to ensure the safety of the ones we hold dear.
For questions about the Covid-19 vaccine and our Residents, families may call our Care Centers directly. For our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers, please contact Randall Rees, Care Centers Administrator at: (727) 785-2577 ext. 1744 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For Highland Lakes Assisted Living, please contact Sheila Kynion, Administrator at: (727) 785-2580 ext. 3003 or by email at: email@example.com. General questions may be directed to our operator at (727) 785-2580. As always, families and friends may stay up-to-date with all things St. Mark Village with our in-house newsletter, the Lively Mark, which is available to view online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark.
Deck the Halls and Don Your Masks
Well, it’s December 2020 and as we begin to deck the halls at St. Mark Village, we find it difficult to believe that we will be doing so in our face masks. Back in March, who would have thought that we’d still be wearing masks at Christmas? Yet here we are. We continue to keep a close eye on updates of Coronavirus infection rates in our area. At the writing of this article, we are seeing a spike in the “Daily Positive Cases” in Pinellas County. While we are not seeing the numbers we saw in June and July of this year, we are seeing an increase in cases in our county. This should serve as a clear reminder that we all need to remain vigilant during the holiday season.
At the Village, we continue to practice all of the safety measures we have learned over the past several months to include; wearing face masks, social distancing, and consistent hand sanitizing and washing. We have masks available to Residents in the Nebraska Avenue Administration Office, if new masks are needed. We ask that all Residents and Team Members continue to wear their face masks properly at all times while outside of their apartments except while seated in the Village Cafe and Bakery or the Dining Room. It is up to us all to keep our Community safe.
We have and will continue to test Care Center Team Members and those Team Members who routinely access our Care Center. We have worked tremendously hard to keep Covid at bay and encourage everyone to take all necessary precautions to keep yourselves and each other safe and healthy this holiday season.
For more information, visit us online for the most recent updates at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark to see the latest information from our in house newsletter or give our offices a call anytime at (727) 785-2580.
Tricks, Treats, and Holidays at St. Mark Village
Halloween has marked the start of the holiday season with a decorated pumpkin auction fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association and our long standing Halloween Costume Contest. The holidays have always been an especially festive time at St. Mark, filled with fun, family, and of course food. After a glorious feast on Thanksgiving, we’ll turn our attention toward decorating our home in a big way. In every part of the Village, elves will be seen decorating trees, including the ones from our friends in Wisconsin, which will occasionally arrive with a dusting of snow still clinging to the branches. Residents and Team Members alike may be found stringing lights and baking goodies as holiday music fills the air. This year especially, we are very much looking forward to all the shared traditions that we enjoy together year after year. This year, the planning is more complicated, but that doesn’t mean we won’t persevere. As we look ahead to this special time, we must also reflect on the past months — remembering how the St. Mark Village family has drawn strength from each other as we have battled through Covid-19. We will continue to work to protect one another and keep each other safe and healthy.
As national coronavirus cases increase, the numbers in Pinellas County are currently tracking upward, though at present, nowhere near what we were seeing in June and July. With this is mind we are staying vigilant, wearing our masks, social distancing, and practicing proper hand hygiene as we move forward with plans to make this Holiday Season at the Village an especially memorable one. We all need it. As the song says, “we need a little Christmas right this very minute.”
This past week, the St. Mark Village family celebrated 40 years of excellence in Palm Harbor. We all joined together for lunch and fellowship to mark this important milestone. We saw some of our family members for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. An amazing time was had by all as many Residents noted that, “it almost felt normal again.” For now, "almost normal" is good enough.
As we begin this Holiday Season, we have compiled a list of events we are planning. Please keep in mind that all of the times and events are subject to change due to the fluid nature of Covid-19. As a reminder, we will continue to practice safety protocols to include; face coverings, social distancing, use of hand sanitizer, frequent hand washing, and frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces. We also will continue to screen all visitors.
Holiday Event Schedule
Halloween Costume Contest
New Resident Cocktail Party
Café Special Night
International Dinner with Wine Pairing
Family and Friends Christmas Party
Caroling / Thank You to Residents
To stay up-to-date with all of these events and possible changes, stay tuned to this page as-well-as the Lively Mark, our in house Newsletter. The Lively Mark is available to Residents each week. You may also view the Lively Mark online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. As always, we welcome your calls directly at (727) 785-2580.
Continued Excellence Under New Care Center Leadership
It has been almost a month since the start of Governor DeSantis’ Phase Three of Florida’s Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery. During Phase Three of the Governor’s plan, St. Mark Village has begun taking steps towards reopening at both our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers and our Highland Lakes Assisted Living.
Our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers Team of seasoned professionals has implemented a plan under the guidance of our newest addition, Administrator Randall Rees. As an intern with Orlando Health near the end of his MBA program at the University of Central Florida, Randall discovered a passion for bringing a higher quality of life to Seniors. Randall has spent the past 10 years garnering a wealth of experience as the Administrator for Skilled Nursing Facilities and Short-term Rehabilitation Facilities here in Florida. During this unprecedented time filled with challenges and uncertainties, we can’t think of anyone else we’d rather have leading the charge, as our Care Centers continue to respond to Covid-19. To see the full list of guidelines for reopening and visitation at our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers, please scroll down to our previous post from October 2nd entitled, What Phase 3 Means for St. Mark Village.
We continue to follow mandated guidelines including testing of designated Team Members. As one might imagine, we are navigating each step with much caution to keep our Residents, their loved ones, and our Team Members safe.
For further questions regarding visitation policies at our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers, please contact Randall Rees, Care Centers Administrator at: (727) 785-2577 ext. 1744 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions regarding visitation policies at Highland Lakes Assisted Living, please contact Sheila Kynion, Administrator at: (727) 785-2580 ext. 3003 or by email at: email@example.com.
To stay up-to-date with the most recent Village news, check out our newsletter, the Lively Mark, available online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. The Lively Mark is published in-house and is available to Residents each week. Also, feel free to call us directly with questions at (727) 785-2580.
What Phase 3 Means for St. Mark Village
On Friday, September 25th, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Phase Three of Florida’s Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery. As Florida restaurants begin to operate at full capacity, St. Mark Village is also taking steps toward reopening by applying new policies and procedures in welcoming visitors back to our Nebraska Avenue Care Center.
We are finally at the point of getting our Residents back to interacting with the family and friends they love and care for most. This is amazing news for our Residents. At the Village, our goal is to do everything we can to embrace this important third step in reopening our doors, working to assure we don’t introduce new or increased risk. In this spirit, we have focused diligently on creating the following new policies and procedures for visitation while keeping our more vulnerable family members safe, adhering to the Governor’s Recovery Plan guidelines, "Individuals older than 65 years of age and individuals with a serious underlying medical condition can resume public interactions, but should practice social distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed."
These new policies and procedures for the Nebraska Avenue Care Centers, effective Monday, September 28th, are intended to make our reopening a great experience for all. This is so important for our Residents well-being – body, mind, and spirit. Help us make these visits as safe and special as possible by familiarizing yourself with the three different types of in person visitation now allowed in our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers; General Visits, Essential Caregiver Visits, and Compassionate Care Visits.
General visits are most common. We have set aside our Nebraska Avenue Assisted Living lobby entrance in order to accommodate general visits in an air-conditioned space. Outside visits are also available outside of this lobby. Visitors will be screened upon arrival, answering a questionnaire and having their temperature taken. The visit will take place with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for both the visitor and the Resident. Visitors and Residents will also need to practice social distancing. Visits will be allowed one at a time in this space, in 30-minute blocks.
General Visits will occur 7 days a week
9:00 am to 2:30 pm
3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Please be on time out of respect to the other visitors.
Essential Caregiver Visits
These visits are reserved for those individuals who provide health care services or assist with activities of daily living to help maintain or improve the quality of care or quality of life of a Resident. Essential Caregivers would include persons who provided services before the pandemic or who request to be able to become an Essential Caregiver now due to a change in the Resident’s status. This role is reserved to persons who maintain or improve the quality of care or quality of life of a Resident in which our St. Mark Village Team cannot provide. This status is not guaranteed to everyone who requests it. There is a limit of two Essential Caregivers per Resident. The Resident or legal guardian must agree and the facility must review and agree that the above criteria are being met.
Once an Essential Caregiver is established, they will have to be educated on our processes, policies, and procedures. Essential Caregivers will also need to be tested for Covid-19 prior to each visit.
The difference between Essential Caregiver Visits and General Visits is that Essential Caregivers will be allowed to be up close and physically touch their loved ones. As one could imagine, this type of visitation drastically increases the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus and puts not only the Resident, but also other Residents residing in the Care Center at risk. For this reason, these visits will be closely monitored and limited to necessary situations.
Essential Caregiver visits will take place in two designated locations within our Nebraska Avenue Care Center (not in apartments). Some exceptions may be made for Residents in private apartments. Caregivers will check in at the Nebraska Avenue Assisted Living entrance, they will be screened, and they will then be escorted to one of the two designated visitation areas. These one-hour visits will be scheduled ahead of time. Only one Essential Caregiver may visit at a time. These visits will be offered seven days a week. The hours for these visits are listed below:
Monday through Friday
10:00 am to 12 noon
1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
11:30 am to 1:30 pm
10:00 am to 11:00 am
12:30 pm to 1:30 pm
Compassionate Care Visits
Compassionate Care Visits are reserved for end of life situations and will be discussed with families and loved ones as required. In these unfortunate circumstances, we will work to ensure that these types of visits do not put others at risk.
For questions regarding visitation guidelines for our Highland Lakes Assisted Living center, please contact Sheila Kynion, Care Center Administrator at: (727) 785-2580 ext. 3003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Good News
We all have been dealing with the coronavirus for many months now. If you are like us, we read about the pandemic daily and also watch the newscasters, not only to learn as much as we can about Covid-19, but also to find anything uplifting to hold onto. With so much information to sort through we sometimes miss the positive reports as they emerge. So let’s look at some really good things that are happening. Just this week, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, “Florida reports the lowest number of Covid-19 cases since early June.” The article continues, “The daily positivity rate fell to 3.9%, the lowest percentage since June 8th, reflecting a continued decline in this closely watched indicator. The World Health Organization says the rate should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days before economies reopen.” This is good news for Floridians. Looking at the Florida positive test rates by day, provided by the Florida Department of Health, the rates have remained under 5% since Friday, September 11th.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also considers that a positive test rate below 10% indicates that we are moving in the right direction. As we look more closely at the positivity rates in Pinellas County, which were updated September 17th, our County is reporting a 8.7% positivity rate, which is below the WHO minimum. With rates as low as 6.9% in September, it would appear that Pinellas County is keeping the virus contained based on WHO standards.
As far as St. Mark Village is concerned, for the past few months, we have tested all St. Mark Village Team Members twice per month. Our latest round of testing revealed that all 360 Team Members tested are negative for Covid-19!
While we are still not out of the woods in terms of seeing an end to the virus in our area, we can pause to celebrate numbers that appear to be looking up. Here at St. Mark Village, even with this good news, we remain vigilant. Frequent hand washing, donning face coverings, social distancing, and cleaning and sanitizing high touch surfaces are still the best ways to keep each other safe and healthy. Encouraging reports mean our efforts are working. Let’s continue to stay disciplined for the Residents, Team Members, and our families. For now, we will stay the course and continue to practice what has brought us through thus far.
For more information about St. Mark Village or to stay up-to-date with the most recent Village news, check out our newsletter, the Lively Mark, available online at: www.StMarkVillage.org.Lively-Mark. The Lively Mark is published in-house and is available to Residents each week. Also, feel free to call us directly with questions at (727) 785-2580.
Labor Day & News from the Governor: Several Reasons to Celebrate
Labor Day, founded in 1894, pays tribute to the contributions and social and economic achievements of American workers. The first Monday of September, this year, is especially meaningful here at St. Mark Village as we honor the hard work and dedication of our Team Members and especially our front line Care Centers Heroes. For months they have fought selflessly to care for our Residents during the global pandemic. The level of commitment and compassion shown by our caregivers really cannot be adequately described. We hope that they, like many other hard working people across the country who have sacrificed during Covid-19, will have a restful holiday and are able to spend quality time with their loved ones.
The St. Mark Village family knows how important it is to be able to spend time with those we hold dear. On Tuesday, September 1st, we received news that soon our Care Centers Residents will once again be able to enjoy visits from their families and friends. Governor Ron DeSantis has lifted the visitation restrictions that have been in place to protect long-term care residents from Covid-19. During a press conference this week, he and his task force described how a partial reopening of long-term care facilities and nursing homes in Florida will start. While it will not be a total reopening, this news is certainly another reason to celebrate as September begins. It has been 175 long days since the restriction on visitation to long-term care facilities and nursing homes in Florida was imposed and we have seen the toll that this has taken on our Residents and their loved ones.
The state’s new policy establishes specific guidelines that must be followed. According to CBS affiliate, 12 News, in West Palm Beach, “Facilities can't allow visitors for 14 days if there is a positive case for caregivers or residents. Visitors must socially distance and stay six feet apart, while essential caregivers are allowed to touch. Furthermore, all visitors must wear PPE and pass a screening process that includes a temperature check and screening questions. Visitation is by appointment only. Residents can designate up to five visitors with only two allowed in at a time.” The full Emergency Order guidelines may be found here.
Since the start of the pandemic, St. Mark Village has worked diligently to stay up-to-date with the most recent available guidelines from governing authorities. We are currently working to implement appropriate policies to comply with the Emergency Order so that our families and friends can visit with their loved ones in the safest environment possible. As always, the health and safety of our Residents, Team Members, and families, are our first priority. We might not have all the answers on September 1st, but rest assured that we are working hard to implement procedures to reunite our Residents with their loved ones. Our Care Centers Administrators will provide updates as they work through the reopening process.
To contact our Highland Lakes Assisted Living, please call (727) 785-2580 ext. 3002.
To contact our Nebraska Avenue Campus Care Centers, please call (727) 785-2580 ext. 1000.
With this news we look forward to seeing our families and friends soon. We have truly missed you and we thank you for your patience and support through this difficult time. Thank you to our Care Centers Heroes for the extraordinary love and care they provide for our Residents. To all of you who are able to enjoy a much needed break from work, please have a happy, safe, and socially distant Labor Day weekend! This is truly a weekend to be grateful. To stay informed about recent developments, continue to visit this page or access our weekly newsletter, The Lively Mark, online at: www.StMarkVillage.org.Lively-Mark.
Body, Mind, & Spirit Health | Coping During Covid-19
For 40 years, it has been our mission to care for the whole person. This long-standing philosophy has been especially crucial during these difficult days. As the pandemic continues, we have seen the mental toll that this crisis has taken on our Residents. We have compiled some information relating to the stressors they may be experiencing and we will describe what we are doing to help the St. Mark Village family stay healthy and grounded during Covid-19.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
The section of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website that focuses on mental health in this time of the global pandemic notes that — you may experience increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of a mental health condition
Everyone Reacts Differently to Stressful Situations
The CDC website also relates that people who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
- Those who are at higher risk for Covid-19 (for example, older people, and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions)
- People caring for family or loved ones
- Frontline workers such as health care providers or first responders
- People who have existing mental health conditions
How We are Helping Our Residents Cope with Stress
At St. Mark Village our goal is to create ways for our Residents to care for their mental health by maintaining social connections. Our Residents tend to be gregarious by nature, which is most likely the reason they have chosen to live at a Village. Two of their favorite places to socialize are the Village Café & Bakery and the Independent Living Dining Room. These two settings in particular are also where our Residents gather to lift the spirits of friends who are going through difficult times. A few months ago, we expanded the Café & Bakery, in order to accommodate social distancing, so that the Residents could continue to gather for much needed conversation and consolation. Our Independent Dining Room has reopened with staggered dining hours to prevent overcrowding. This allows the Residents to meet and have a glass of wine, a beautifully prepared meal, and enjoy the good times that occur when we break bread together.
In our Care Centers, our goal is to help our Residents feel less isolated by establishing ways to connect them to their loved ones. With the Governor’s mandate restricting visitation to adult care facilities such as our Assisted Living Centers and Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we are providing ways for our Residents and their families to be together at a distance. We are currently facilitating phone calls, video chats, porch visits, and car parades with the goal of helping our Residents and their loved ones feel less alone.
We encourage all the Residents at St. Mark Village to establish healthy habits to cope with stress. The CDC website recommends that it is especially important for older individuals to be physically active. Here at the Village we rely on our full time Wellness Coordinator to motivate the Residents and make exercise enjoyable. In our Wellness Center classes are held in small groups to maintain social distancing. Many Residents thrive on this dynamic as-well-as the energy and the camaraderie that comes from working out together. Wellness Classes are also available to view on our in-house TV station so that Residents may exercise in the comfort of their own apartments. Physical activity reduces blood pressure and anxiety and leads to more restful sleep. It can also help to improve mood and energy level.
Spirituality is also an integral part of St. Mark Village. We are blessed to have a lovely, large Chapel located right inside our building. We continue to hold Sunday services in our Chapel in order to foster the peace of mind that spirituality often brings when times are difficult. We have installed decals on the pews to help direct Residents to seats that are properly social distanced. Our Campus Pastor leads service each week and our Residents join together for prayer, music, and fellowship. The Residents may also easily access this peaceful sanctuary for quiet reflection during the week. Our Campus Pastor is at the Village each day to listen and provide guidance through this extraordinarily difficult situation. Listening to a trusted clergyman or counselor is another way to improve mental well-being.
What Do You Want Your Future To Look Like? It's the Perfect Time to Choose Senior Living.
During these seemingly endless days of Covid-19, it is understandable that fear, and a sense of uncertainty about the future are pervasive. At St. Mark Village, a Continuing Care Community, we have always planned for our Residents’ futures, alleviating fear and providing peace of mind, not only for our Residents, but also for their families. Our Life Care promise says it all ⎼ Even if a Resident’s health or financial circumstances should change, they will always have a home at the Village. At present, in this battle against the coronavirus, the priority for the entire St. Mark Village family is to work together, make decisions based on the greater good, and safeguard the health and well-being of our Residents and Team Members. Many of our Team Members have served and cared for our Residents for decades and embody our Mission of more than 40 years – To enrich the lives of the Residents we serve by creating an environment that fulfills their every need – body, mind, and spirit. Since our founding, and as we confront a global pandemic, our primary goal each day has been and always will be, to provide an environment that is as safe and secure as possible for those we pledge to protect.
As you evaluate your safety and security during these unprecedented times, our St. Mark Village Residents can answer "YES" to the following questions, can you?
- Are all visitors, health care workers, and service providers screened for illness before entering your home?
- Are all visitors, health care workers, and service providers required to wear face masks and other protective gear while in your home?
- Are groceries, personal hygiene items, medications, and other essential supplies delivered directly to your home for free?
- Do you have someone to provide transportation to medical appointments, drugstores, shopping centers etc.?
- Does a qualified health care professional monitor you for signs and symptoms of illness or Covid-19?
- Does your physician come directly to your home for medical appointments?
- Does someone order your medications and are they delivered directly to your home?
- Is your home regularly cleaned and sanitized/disinfected?
- Do you have a professional monitoring and providing updates on the Covid-19 crisis?
- Does your family receive updates on your health and wellness?
- Do you have an emergency call system in your home?
- Are you able to enjoy socialization with others and receive guidance on how to do so safely?
- Are you able to communicate with friends and family with the use of technology?
- Does your family receive photos and direct communication on Facebook or other social media platforms?
- Do you have someone to talk to when you feel the need for interaction or are feeling isolated?
- Do you have someone who provides and arranges for enriching and mentally stimulating activities, exercise classes, and services such as therapy, vision, and hearing check-ups?
- Do you have a sense of safety and security because of support provided by a team of healthcare professionals?
Isn’t it time for you to experience the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you can depend on us to help make life easier, safer, and more fulfilling, even in our current circumstances? Please stay tuned to our webpage at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19 for the most up-to-date information regarding our response to Covid-19. Families may view our newsletter, the Lively Mark, distributed to our Residents weekly, online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. As always, please feel free to call us directly with questions at (727) 785-2580.
Avoiding the Three C’s: A Rule of Thumb for Keeping Each Other Safe
As the number of Covid-19 cases in Florida continues to rise, we look to the news for guidance and find conflicting information. On July 29th, CNN reported that, “Disease trends in the U.S. are mixed: Deaths are increasing, and hospitalizations are at or near peak levels, though new, daily reported infections are declining slightly. But health experts have warned that the death rate likely would rise as it is now, as a lagging consequence of a large spike in cases weeks earlier especially in the South and West.” At St. Mark Village, we continue to wear our face coverings, wash or sanitize our hands frequently, and practice social distancing, as we continue working hard together to do the next right thing. The next right thing for us, is to avoid the Three C’s while at the Village and out in the community.
The Florida Department of Health has issued a public service announcement asking us to remember the Three C’s — Closed Spaces, Crowded Places, and Close-Contact Settings. These simple and easy to remember rules will help keep Residents, Team Members, and families safe.
Avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation. Governor DeSantis said at a news conference in June, “In Florida you know it’s hot, but the sunshine, heat and humidity is your friend. When you’re in an enclosed space, and your cramped in with bad ventilation, you’re going to have more spread.”
Avoid crowded places with many people nearby. At the Village, we strive for a balance. One of the reasons we live and work at a place like St. Mark Village, is that we thrive on human interaction. We look forward to getting out of our apartments and offices for some socially distant, much-needed conversation. Each day, we remind ourselves to remain vigilant and to pay close attention to our surroundings, while at the Village, and when we leave for essentials.
Avoid close-contact settings such as close-range conversations. We are very fortunate to live and work at a place filled with great conversationalists and memorable stories to share. However, we must remember to keep a distance of 6 feet from each other while here and when we’re out and about. What we do now to keep ourselves safe we do for the entire St. Mark Village family.
One of the best and easiest tools in the fight against Covid-19 is the face mask. At St. Mark Village, we firmly believe in wearing face coverings to help keep our Residents, Team Members, and families healthy. This is why we have decided to distribute St. Mark Village 40th Anniversary branded face masks to each Resident and Team Member at the Village. These face masks are handsomely designed with the St. Mark Village 40th Anniversary logo — which is especially timely. Today, July 31st, 2020, is the day we set aside every year to celebrate our Anniversary. Each Resident received a brand-new face mask in their mailbox today and every Team Member has been given a new 40th Anniversary mask as a thank you, and to commemorate our 40 years of history right here in Palm Harbor, Florida.
As we pause to look back over 40 years, we recognize that we have much to be thankful for. As for the present, we wage a fierce battle, unlikely to end soon, against Covid-19. Still we look forward, ever hopeful, to better days ahead. Since our founding in 1980, it is our culture of compassion and promise of peace of mind that truly set us apart. We proudly continue to honor our Life Care promise —”Even if a Resident’s health or financial circumstances should change, they will always have a home at the Village.” In these uncertain times this pledge gives our Residents great comfort. On our 40th Anniversary, we cherish and remember each of our Residents and Team Members, past and present. We long for the day when the St. Mark Village family will gather together once again.
Please continue to visit us online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19 for the most up-to-date information regarding our response to Covid-19. For access to the latest information that our Residents receive each week, families may stay connected with the Lively-Mark, available online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. To speak with us directly, please feel free to call us at: (727) 785-2580.
Our 40th Anniversary: Celebrating and Persevering
As many of you know, we are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of St. Mark Village in 2020. We were expecting to commemorate this milestone with much fanfare — planning events to honor generous Residents and dedicated Team Members, past and present, with parties to thank our families, local community, and business partners. However, for now, we are on hold due to the global pandemic. Still we believe our founder, Pastor James H. Fresh, would be proud of the leadership of his son Doug Fresh as we are persevering through the most challenging time we have ever known. We remain determined, even as Covid-19 threatens to overwhelm us, to continue our 40-year-old Mission: To enrich the lives of the Residents we serve by creating an environment that fulfills their every need — body, mind, and spirit. Dealing with the global pandemic has not changed our Mission, but it has changed some of the ways we carry it out.
Presently, all Residents and Team Members wear a face covering. Matthew Hitchings, an infectious disease researcher at the University of South Florida says, “precautions like social distancing and wearing a mask become even more important. We wear the mask to reduce the probability that, upon meeting an infectious person, you actually get transmission. When we all work together, we are able to help protect each other. The only thing in your control is your behavior.” We are in charge of keeping each other safe and that is powerful. Joseph G. Allen, a writer for the Washington Post puts it quite succinctly, “The debate is finally over: Masks work.”
On Friday, July 31st, each St. Mark Village Resident will find a new 40th Anniversary Mask in their mailbox. Masks are now a part of our essential attire, like shirts and shoes, and most importantly, each day you don your mask is a day you choose to make a decision based on the greater good. That decision alone is reason to celebrate. True, we are not planning the kinds of events we thought would mark our amazing 40-year milestone, but we can still count our blessings. Our lives here are St. Mark Village are built and sustained by community. We are a group of like-minded people sharing a common goal. In 2020, our most important goal is the health, safety, and well-being of each member of our St. Mark Village family. Residents, Team Members, families and friends all contribute, making our Village the unique place that it is. The challenges we overcome and the sacrifices we make today, will determine the next 40 years.
Please continue to visit us online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19 for the most recent and up-to-date information regarding our response to Coivd-19. Families may stay informed by viewing our in-house newsletter, published weekly for Residents, online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. As always, feel free to contact us directly with questions at (727) 785-2580.
Caring for Our Families During the Pandemic
From the desk of Carla Fresh, Chief Marketing Officer at St. Mark Village:
Good fortune truly smiled upon me when I walked through the doors of St. Mark Village thirty years ago. From my days in the Care Centers and through the years as part of the Sales and Marketing team, to my present position as Chief Marketing Officer, every chapter has had its challenges. However, I can truly say this “job” has brought great joy to my life. I have made lifelong friends with my fellow Team Members, our Residents, and their families. Over the years I have witnessed countless gestures of kindness and compassion from Residents and Team Members alike. When my parents decided that the time had come to consider moving to a Retirement Community, I hoped that St. Mark Village would be their choice. A decision of this magnitude and a move is always stressful. Over the time since my parents made the decision to move to St. Mark Village, my parents gradually started to feel safe and secure, at peace in their new home. In the days since their move, I have been able to see them enjoying beautifully prepared meals with new friends — laughing with the Team Members who serve them. They talk about how much they love the Wellness classes and their amazement at the richness and variety of our Life Enrichment program.
Things were moving along quite nicely… and I think you know where this story is going — a global pandemic. If I am being honest, I have to admit that there are days filled with a feeling that I am helpless to protect my parents from the virus. However, there are more days when I am grateful that my parents are not alone in a house, but rather here with me. I am grateful that we are members of the St. Mark Village family, all responsible for taking care of one another. As the pandemic continues on, I see our Team Members working tirelessly, not only to supply the basics, but also to continue embracing our Mission of four decades — to enrich the lives of the Residents we serve by creating an environment that fulfills their every need – body, mind, and spirit. I am blessed because in these uncertain and volatile times, I still see Residents and Team Members reaching out to lift each other up. I still see friends dining together and enjoying conversation. I still hear music and laughter. Our generous and resilient Residents constantly take the time to ask the Team Members how they are doing, if we eating and sleeping and taking care of ourselves, and most of all thanking us for all we do for them. These words mean everything to us. That is why we are here.
When I take a moment to reflect, I remember meeting with our CEO and the Executive Team in February to develop a plan to respond to Covid-19. In early March, we started implementing that plan. There was not much guidance from our the various regulatory bodies, though we are a highly regulated industry. Nor was there much information from our government agencies. So, we all became researchers and repurposed ourselves to do whatever needed to be done. I in essence became a purchasing officer in addition to my duties as Chief Marketing Officer. My days and nights were spent looking for personal protective equipment as we received little to no aid from any official source; state, federal, or otherwise. Other Team Members from multiple departments solved TV and computer issues, delivered donations of food from local restaurants, and became check point screeners. Since we had multiple check points set up around the clock, friends and families of Team Members became screeners, package deliverers, and even sorted mail when the U.S. Postal Service stopped bringing mail inside the building. We set up a recording studio where we could record video updates to inform and entertain the Residents. Our CEO, no matter how tired he was, has updated Residents each week via video, as we fought against the virus. The battle continued into April and lives were lost here at the Village. This is the most difficult chapter to write. We continue to mourn and honor the Residents from our Skilled Nursing, many of whom have been a part of our lives for decades, that we lost to Covid-19. Those were, and are, my saddest days in my thirty years with St. Mark Village. We still have many challenges to face going forward. Each day, we brainstorm about ways to help our Care Center Residents and families stay connected during this seemingly endless time of restrictions on visitation.
Last week, I added another chapter to my tale as a Village employee who is also a family member. I received a text message from my sister on a day that I was not working. The message stated that my Dad was being rushed to the emergency room and was going to need surgery. In the days of coronavirus, with no ICU beds available, I was really, really frightened. Where was Mom? Mom struggles with macular degeneration while in unfamiliar places and she relies upon my dad to be her eyes. By the time I arrived at St. Mark, my Mom was safe and sound in their apartment. I learned that our Concierge had arranged last minute transportation for my parents to the doctor. One of the dedicated St. Mark Village drivers escorted them and stayed at the doctor with them. Next he transported them to the nearest emergency room and continued to stay with them. When my Mom was told she could not stay because of coronavirus restrictions, she was understandably very upset. With respectful and gentle persuasion, their driver convinced her to come with him back to St. Mark Village. He just could not leave her sitting on a bench in the heat in front of the emergency room. After a few nerve-racking days, when we couldn’t get much information from the hospital and we were not able to visit, Dad returned home. Our Resident Nurse Manager was there immediately to check on dad, go over all his discharge orders, and late on a Friday afternoon, she even arranged for a St. Mark Village CNA to do whatever my parents needed over the weekend; setting up delivery of all their meals to their apartment. The weekend went smoothly thanks to the dedicated St. Mark Village team. All my parents needed to do was concentrate on rest and recovery. I have seen our compassionate Team Members go above and beyond countless times over the years though this was the first time I was a worried daughter, rather than simply a Team Member. I am truly grateful to each of them for all of their selfless support for mom and dad during this time.
To close, the entire St. Mark Village family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts for your kind words, continued support, and patience as we navigate this global emergency together. We cannot predict what will happen next. All we can do is continue to do the next right thing. Your peace of mind as-well-as the safety, health, and well-being of your loved ones is our first priority. Please continue to stay tuned to our Covid page for weekly updates at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19. You may also access our in-house newsletter, the Lively Mark, distributed to Residents each week and available to families online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. To communicate with me directly to share your stories, please feel free to call me at: (727) 785-2580 or email me at email@example.com.
It's Mid-July, Now What?
It is almost unbelievable that in mid-July the number of Coronavirus cases is escalating significantly in Florida and many other states across our nation. A few months ago, we expected to be in recovery mode by now. So, at St. Mark Village, we proceed slowly and steadily. Recently, in Independent Living, we took just a few steps forward, but now we are really in a holding pattern. A few days ago, Governor DeSantis extended his Executive Order to September 5th, continuing to restrict non-essential visitation in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Centers, which applies to our Care Centers at both the Nebraska Avenue and Highland Lakes campuses. Our visitation, screening, and delivery policies for Independent Living have not changed. Please refer to our post of June 26th for details.
It has already been months, as many of you know, since our Care Center Residents and families have been able to visit like they did in the days prior to the pandemic. Residents who live in our Independent Living have only been able to connect with their spouses, who reside in one of our Care Centers, by the phone, virtually through Skype, or from a distance in a car. So our hearts go out to them and all the Residents and families who are in this situation. We hope and pray to have you back in the arms of your loved ones as soon as possible.
While positive cases are on the rise, what can be done? We are brainstorming and using good old-fashioned ingenuity to find ways for our Residents and families to see and speak with each other using digital technology. For those who haven’t heard, we are scheduling Skype and Zoom calls. These are video technologies that will allow face to face video calls with your loved ones. We have dedicated staff available to help Residents access an iPad to receive a video call. To schedule a call, visit the online calendar today at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Skype.
The Highland Lakes Team is also scheduling “porch visits” for Residents and their families. As always, our first priority is the health and safety of our Residents and Team Members. These porch visits allow families to come to the Highland Lakes campus and visit with their loved ones at a distance. While they cannot yet hug each other, they can meet for some much -needed conversation. To schedule a porch visit at the Highland Lakes campus, visit the calendar and choose the day and time you would like to schedule your visit. For questions, feel free to email the Highland Lakes Life Enrichment Coordinator, Kelly Hogan at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Nebraska Campus Care Centers are also working on more ideas to help people connect. Our recent car and walk by parades lifted everyone’s spirits! Stay tuned for updates on this page and in the Lively Mark.
What happens next? We wish we knew. We hope and pray for the best as we prepare for whatever may come next — always with the safety, health, and well-being of the Residents we serve as our number one priority. As our CEO likes to say, "we can only do the next right thing." We are in this together with you for the long haul and we will fight for you and your families every step of the way. Thank you all for your prayers and patience during these trying times. The Residents and Team Members of St. Mark Village greatly appreciate your support. Please continue to look for updates regarding our response to Covid-19 at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19. Residents, families, and friends may also continue to get the most recent information about everything going on at the Village in our newsletter, The Lively Mark, distributed weekly to our Residents and available to families online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. As always, feel free to call us directly anytime with questions at (727) 785-2580.
Celebrating Our Freedoms and Responsibilities
For many of us this flag is the emblem of our unity, duty, and purpose as a nation. It represents all the men and women who are serving, have served, and are fighting to protect this country. It represents all of the brave men and woman who chose to sacrifice and risk their lives to protect their fellow Americans. We also have choices to make — choices that require sacrifice and choices that will save lives. We must move ahead with courage, determination, and purpose. It is our duty to think of others and make decisions based on the greater good. On July 4th, we will pause and reflect on what we truly have as Americans and recognize that there is much to be grateful for. We have the freedom to determine how to live our lives, the freedom to determine how to treat others, and the freedom to determine how to give back. We realize that with freedom comes responsibility. This Independence Day let’s use our many freedoms to make decisions based on loving, respecting, and protecting our fellow man.
Stopping the Spread of Covid-19
Recently the numbers of new cases of Covid-19 have been increasing in some states across our country. A June 19th article in Time Magazine reports, “As for Florida, the surge in cases there precisely mirrors the rise in the percentage of positive cases, meaning that, even as the total volume of testing increases, the population of those infected is rising as well — an unambiguous sign that the virus is spreading more rapidly than it was in past weeks. Increased testing in the state may explain some of the rise in cases, but it cannot fully account for the number of tests coming back positive, says Dr. Aileen M. Marty, a professor at Florida International University, who has served as an infectious disease advisor on local, national, and international levels. Marty says that she’s been troubled that many people in her state don’t seem to be taking social distancing seriously despite the rising number of cases. We see people who don’t want to wear masks, don’t want to social distance, and have a false sense that the pandemic is over, when in truth the numbers are only going up, says Marty.”
Starting last week and into this week, local Mayors and County Commissioners took steps to make masks mandatory. On Wednesday June 24th, the Tampa Bay Times reported that, “On Tuesday June 23rd, the Pinellas County Commission mandated that all people will be required to wear face coverings while in any indoor establishment in Pinellas County. The countywide ordinance will be active as long as a local emergency order remains in place. 'We are clearly seeing a community-wide spread,' said Dr. Ulyee Choe, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County. 'It’s not really confined to one particular age group. There is no cure. There is no vaccine.' ”
Doing Your Part to Slow the Spread. We are All in this Together.
Each week on this page and through our in-house newsletter, The Lively Mark, we inform Residents and their families with timely news about St. Mark Village. We do have a change to this week’s Lively Mark and it addresses visitation to our Independent Living Center. We anticipated that visitors would be welcomed back to Independent Living on July 13th. Now, we now anticipate that this may happen on July 27th, but that date could change as we monitor the number of new Covid-19 cases, and the infection rates in our area. Residents are being informed of this change via our in-house TV channel. This decision is based on the fact that our area is seeing record numbers of new cases and increased admissions to hospitals.
Currently Independent Living Resident's may request a visitor’s pass by providing information about their guest and why it is essential that they come into our building. Residents then meet their guest in the front lobby. All visitors are screened and must remain with the Resident. This procedure will continue. However, we ask that visitors consider staying away for now. We have the power to protect each other. It will take sacrifice. We must do the right thing, basing our decision making on the greater good.
As for our Nebraska Avenue and Highland Lakes campus Care Centers, visitation is still restricted by government mandate. We have, however, arranged for our Residents in the Care Centers to connect with their families and friends by phone, virtually through Skype, during porch visits at Highland Lakes, and through our car parades, where the St. Mark family has made us all joyful and proud.
Slowing the spread can be accomplished by continuing to wear our face coverings, practicing social distancing, and washing and/or sanitizing our hands frequently. Below are 3 easy to follow “best practices” for wearing and caring for your face mask in an effort to keep you, your family, friends, and community safe.
Step 2 — Your face covering should fit over both your nose and mouth. Make sure there are no gaps and that the mask fits snugly, but comfortably. You should be able to breathe freely without restriction.
Step 3 — Avoid touching and adjusting the mask while you wear it. If you need to make frequent adjustments to your mask, it may not be the best fit for you.
Step 4 — Don’t put the covering around your neck or up on your forehead.
Step 3 — Clean your hands again with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Step 4 — If you remove your mask, for example, in the dining room, place it in a clean bag to protect it from contamination.
Step 2 — Tumble dry on high heat.
Step 3 — Keep track of how many times you wash your mask. After 15 washes, discard it.
Step 2 — Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the face covering.
Step 2 — Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection. Some bleach products, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing may not be suitable for disinfection. Ensure that the bleach product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
Step 3 — Soak the face covering in the bleach solution for 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cool or room temperature water.
This Year on Father’s Day…
As we head into the weekend, we long to connect with family and friends to celebrate Father’s Day. However, in this time of Covid-19 and our “new normal,” this special day dedicated to honoring our fathers, and men who are like fathers to us, may be very different from years past. Some of us will connect via phone or digital technology due to restrictions on travel or visitation, as we are experiencing here at St. Mark Village. Even if we are lucky enough to gather together, we should all continue to social distance, use proper hand hygiene, and wear our face coverings. By following these practices we can show our loved ones how much they really mean to us. This year on Father’s Day, the greatest gift we can give the men who put our needs before their own is to make decisions based on the greater good. We have the power to protect each other.
At St. Mark Village, we are aware of the previously issued guidelines in phase 2 of Governor DeSantis’, “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.” This week, new requirements for staff who work in Skilled Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Centers were issued from the Governor’s office. The emergency order put forth on Wednesday, June 17th mandates that all Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility staff must be tested for Covid-19 every two weeks. For us, this is good news. We look forward to the Governor’s plan for consistent, ongoing testing coming to fruition. It has always been our goal to do as much testing as possible. However ongoing issues with testing, including lack of tests, slow turn-around times for results, and even results that have never been made available, have been extremely challenging. We continue to seek resources and guidance from governing authorities; monitoring the latest news about Covid-19, as the situation is ever changing. The well-being of our Residents, Team Members, families, and friends is at the forefront of our decision making.
On Sunday, we will take a moment to remember St. Mark Village patriarch, Pastor James H. Fresh, who was and still is our guiding light. Many members of the St. Mark Village family had the privilege of knowing and walking beside “Dad Fresh,” drawing inspiration from him still. We hope he would be proud as he watches his son and current St. Mark Village CEO, Doug Fresh, along with his loyal Team, work diligently each day to protect our Residents. Many of them are your fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, and yes, even great great grandfathers. It is an honor to serve them. We would like to wish you and your loved ones a happy, safe, and healthy Father’s Day.
What's Happening Now
We are now in phase 2 of Governor Desantis', “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.” As Covid-19 related restrictions ease across the State of Florida and tests become more readily available, we will watch and wait to see what occurs in our State, and across the Country.
On this page, please see our recent post dated June 5th, about what changes have occurred in Independent Living as we cautiously move forward. It is important to note that Governor DeSantis’ Executive order number 20-139 remains as follows, “Senior Citizens and those individuals with significant underlying conditions are strongly advised to avoid crowds and take measures to limit the risk of exposure to Covid-19.” Here at the Village, the Residents and Team Members are adjusting to a “new normal” while staying vigilant about protecting themselves and each other. We continue to wear masks, follow proper hand hygiene, and practice social distancing.
We wish we had all the answers about what the future holds for the St. Mark Village family but for now here is a brief synopsis:
1. What’s Happening Now in Our Care Centers?
Highland Lakes Assisted Living
- We continue to adhere to the government mandates of Phase 2, so we remain in a holding pattern concerning visitation. We know how difficult this has been for our Residents, families, and friends, and we try to help them connect in creative ways.
- To connect through a video call via Skype, go to our Skype webpage at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Skype and choose the day and time you would like to schedule your call.
- The Highland Lakes Team is also scheduling “porch visits” for Residents and their families.
- To schedule a porch visit at the Highland Lakes campus, access the calendar and choose the day and time you would like to schedule your visit. For questions, please feel free to reach out to the Highland Lakes Life Enrichment coordinator, Kelly Hogan at: email@example.com.
Nebraska Avenue Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and In-Patient Rehabilitation.
- In these levels of Care, visitation is still prohibited at this time. Our hearts go out to our Care Center’s Residents, Team Members, families, and friends who miss each other every day.
- To schedule a video call via Skype, visit our Skype webpage at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Skype and choose the day and time you would like to schedule your call. For questions, feel free to email our Care Centers Life Enrichment Director, Kimberly Glem at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Also, please refer to our June 8th post on this page to read about Kimberly’s suggestions for stimulating and interactive conversation. For this and other helpful resources, please visit our Resource Blog at: www.StMarkVillage.org/News-Events.
Applicable to both our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers and our Highland Lakes Assisted Living campus, is the Phase 2 directive, “All persons who work in long-term care facilities should be tested for Covid-19 on a routine basis.”
2. What Will Happen Next in Our Care Centers?
- We continue to wait for direction from governing authorities in regard to our next steps in the reopening process in our Care Centers. We don’t know exactly when, but we look forward to the day when the entire St. Mark Village family can enjoy being together as we did prior to Covid-19.
- Now, we wait for Phase 3 of the Governor’s Plan for the reopening of Florida. According to documentation available at: www.flgov.com, “Phase 3 will begin after the successful conclusion of of Phase 2, which includes a downward trajectory of the syndromic and epidemiology criteria while maintaining adequate health care capacity. This will occur when there is no evidence of a rebound or resurgence of Covid-19 cases and satisfies the benchmarks outlined in the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.” While the Governor’s plan does not specifically outline the Plan for Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities in Phase 3, Vulnerable Populations are given the following criteria under Phase 3:
Vulnerable Populations: Individuals older than 65 years of age and individuals with a serious underlying medical conditions (such as chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immune-compromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease) can resume public interactions, but should practice social distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed. Vulnerable populations should affirmatively inform their employer that they are a member of the vulnerable population so that their employer can plan accordingly.
- On Monday, June 8th, the Independent Living Dining Room reopened to much fanfare as Residents met to enjoy food and fellowship together with staggered dining hours to limit capacity at any one time in the Dining Room.
- Wellness Checks have also resumed.
- The Independent Living Life Enrichment Director, Ellen Wade, is beginning to offer a limited number of activities that the Independent Living Residents hold dear and she is using her creativity to add more each week, while staying mindful of face coverings, social distancing, and sanitation.
- For a complete list of current activities and updates, check out our in-house newsletter, The Lively Mark, delivered each week to our Residents, and available online for families and friends at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark.
- Resident key FOBS will open all doors (excluding the loading dock) in Independent Living, beginning Friday, June 12th by the end of the business day. Residents are asked not to allow others e.g. essential visitors/workers/vendors to enter through these doors.
- Essential visitors/workers will continue to be directed to the main entrance for screening. Vendors will be directed to the loading dock entrance for screening.
- Residents are asked to wear face coverings while outside of their apartment and when unable to social distance.
- We anticipate welcoming visitors to Independent Living on Monday, July 6th. If an Independent Living Resident has a special circumstance prior to that date, they may go to the administration office to obtain a visitor’s pass. Residents will then need to meet their guests in the main lobby, where a screening and temperature check will be conducted. Residents will be required to keep their guests with them at all times.
- We anticipate that guest apartments will be available beginning Monday, July 6th.
How to Connect with Loved Ones Living with Dementia During Covid-19
During this time of coronavirus, we yearn for connection and interaction with our loved ones more than ever. Of course, what we really want is to see and touch their faces, hold their hands, and share a warm and familiar embrace. However, for now, with visitation to our Care Centers still restricted, we have turned to assisting our Residents and their families and friends with alternative ways of communicating. We are using the phone, and a video technology called Skype more than ever! While we are fortunate to have the technology be able to talk to and see our loved ones virtually, it does have its challenges.
The challenges are intensified when a Resident is living with dementia. The conversations can often be one sided, when what we look forward to is a stimulating, meaningful, and even humorous exchange. Here are some tips to help you and your loved one not talk about the weather, or the dreaded Covid-19!
Be prepared and have a few topics to talk about that are positive. Try these:
• Funny news stories “You will never guess what this man did.”
• What the grand kids are doing
• What you would do if you won the lottery
• Play “Would you Rather? Or This or that?” Would you rather eat ice-cream everyday for the rest of your life or never again? Dog or Cat?
• Read off information about Tigers. They are fascinating animals!
• Talk about food and cooking
• Sing a song or recite a poem
• Turn your TV’s to the same movie/TV show and watch and discuss it together
• Play trivia
• Discuss what makes a good President, since everyone has an opinion on that
• Would you go to the moon if you were able?
• Go through your favorites! What is your favorite color, food, or song?
• Tell jokes or a riddle
• Begin each call with “This Day in History.”
• Reminisce. How did you meet Mom/Dad?
My husband and our daughter play “Sweet and Sour” over dinner each night. We each share what sweet (good) things and what sour (bad) things happened in our day. That topic stimulates a lot of conversation!
Could you write a biography about your loved one? If not, begin to gather the information. It will become a really special record for your family and an essential tool if your loved one develops dementia. You can share the stories with the Life Enrichment Director. Knowing the little details helps us bring richness to our Residents lives.
When the conversation turns to the current pandemic:
• Reminisce about happy times when you were together on vacations, at birthday parties, weddings, or Sunday dinners
• Talk about what you look forward to doing with each other again
• Be thankful and count your blessings
• Pray together
Phase 2: For Florida | Step by step for St. Mark Village
On Wednesday, June 3rd, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the roll out of Phase 2 in his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery,” which details the phased reopening of Florida. Phase 2 will allow for the opening of entertainment venues, bars, and even movie theaters, though still with capacity restrictions. For more information relating to other services opening in Florida during Phase 2, visit the State of Florida website at: www.FLGov.com.
Each week here at St. Mark Village, and particularly in Independent Living, Residents are taking the next steps on their journey to find the “new normal.” Trying to find the new normal is one challenge and striving to live the best quality of life in this new normal is another. At the Village, Residents and Team Members alike, associate quality of life with meaningful human interaction. That makes sense. Why would you live and work in a Village if those connections were not highly valued? So, it is no surprise that the question we seem to receive most from our Residents, and their families and friends is, “Are visitors allowed into St. Mark Village?"
The answer for the Residents, families, and friends of our Care Centers is, not yet. Visitation is still restricted by a government mandate. However, if you refer to our Covid post on Friday, May 29th as-well-as in our June blog, you may read about some of the ways we are assisting Care Center Residents, families, and friends with staying in touch from afar. We know this is not ideal and how difficult it has been for all of them. We continue to hope for better days ahead.
On June 1st, we updated you on life in Independent Living. Today, we have more information to share. We will highlight a few of the changes. For additional details, please access our weekly in-house newsletter, The Lively Mark, at www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark.
We anticipate allowing visitors to enter Independent Living beginning Monday, July 6th. If an Independent Living Resident has a special circumstance prior to that date, they may go to the Administration Office and obtain a Visitor’s Pass. Residents will then need to meet guests in the Main Lobby, where a comprehensive screening with questionnaire and temperature check will be conducted. Residents will be required to keep their guests with them at all times.
The Independent Living Dining Room will reopen on Monday, June 8th. New procedures are in place that will limit the numbers of Residents in the Dining Room at any one time. This is done by scheduling dining by floor. If a Resident is scheduled for a certain time and has a conflict due to an appointment that cannot be rescheduled, they may come to the Administration Office and pick up a Dining Pass that will accommodate them for that day.
Coming and Going
Independent Living Residents may now come and go without being screened.
Residents traveling by car or plane WILL NOT be asked to self-isolate for 14 days when they return to the Village. Residents returning from cruise ships or foreign countries WILL be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The St. Mark Village transportation schedule for the Independent Living Residents will continue Monday through Friday, by appointment and with social distancing in our vehicles.
As churches open, Residents may request to be transported by the St. Mark Village fleet to their church of choice, as they have in the past. This will be extremely difficult because of the number of different churches with services occurring at the same time, combined with the need to social distance in our vehicles for safety. Residents are asked to call the Transportation Desk at ext. 1138, by the end of the day on Thursday, June 11th, to schedule transportation for Sunday, June 14th worship services.
Wellness Checks Resume and Free Therapy Screening
Wellness Checks will be conducted Monday through Friday, from 1:00 pm until 2:00 pm in the Wellness Clinic on the 2nd Floor. In addition, our experienced and knowledgeable Therapy Team is offering free screenings. Schedule a screening by calling our Rehab Coordinator, at 2108, or Rehab Director at 2101. Our Therapists are able do so much to improve overall health and well-being in a very short time. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
Residents will be asked to wear face coverings outside of their apartments and when they are unable to social distance. The St. Mark Village family is committed to ensuring all are protected and healthy.
We continue to navigate uncharted waters and we are blessed to have a large, loyal, and knowledgeable crew of able-bodied sailors. We appreciate your patience on the days when the winds are still and headway is slow — though we will soon be underway. Slow and steady as she goes.
As we travel on together, we will exercise an abundance of caution when it comes to the health and well-being of our Residents and Team Members. Residents, families, and friends; please keep praying and sending messages of encouragement. Your support means the world to us. Our Team Members especially appreciate your uplifting words. This is the first global pandemic any of us have faced and we need to unite and to be kind to one another. Continue to visit us online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19 for the latest information. As always, families and friends may stay up-to-date with news about the Village by reading our in-house newsletter, The Lively Mark, available each week in print for our Residents and online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. For direct questions, we welcome your calls at (727) 785-2580.
The Next Right Thing
We have been talking to you about Covid-19 and the St. Mark Village response since early March, which is hard to fathom. During this difficult time, we have been cautiously walking down an unfamiliar path together, not knowing what twists and turns lie ahead. We do know that we journey together though, and that makes things just a little bit easier. Each day we learn more about the novel coronavirus and each day we analyze and adjust. As our CEO likes to say, we will continue, “to do the next right thing.” Currently, we are concentrating our efforts on creating a “new normal” here at the Village. While monitoring Governor DeSantis’ “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery,” we are slowly and methodically planning our next steps. Below is an update about what is happening at the Village; as well as Hurricane Preparedness guidelines. To stay up-to-date, please visit us online to access our newsletter, The Lively Mark, which is distributed each week to our Residents. Families and friends may view The Lively Mark at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark.
Hurricane Season is officially under way and we have already been meeting weekly so that St. Mark Village will be ready. As our country will still be in the midst of battling Covid-19, this year’s storm season will present an additional set of challenges. On Friday, May 29th, our CEO, Doug Fresh, shared details of our Hurricane Preparedness plan with the Residents and Team Members during the May Village Forums. Our Residents were reminded to refer to the section of their Resident Manual regarding Storm/Hurricane Evacuation Procedures, and for specific information on food service, electrical power, water, and other important information. In addition, an Emergency Preparedness Information insert was placed in all of the Resident mailboxes, as well as being included in the printed edition of The Lively Mark.
The Independent Living Dining Room will reopen on Monday, June 8th. New procedures are in place that will limit the numbers of Residents in the Dining Room at any one time. This is done by scheduling dining times by floor. Please see the June seating schedule insert given to our Residents last Friday. Our convenient take-out and delivery service will continue as usual.
Face Coverings and Screening
Residents are asked to wear face coverings while outside of their apartments and when they are unable to social distance. The Team Members of St. Mark Village, in Independent Living and in all of the Care Centers, will continue to wear face coverings. We also continue to screen each Team Member and other essential workers upon their arrival at St. Mark Village, presenting a questionnaire, and checking their temperatures prior to entry.
We are back to offering scheduled transportation using our own St. Mark Village fleet, while practicing social distancing in the vehicles. Residents and Team Members will continue hand hygiene and will wear face coverings.
Worship Services at the Village
Worship Services resumed on Sunday, May 31st, in the St. Mark Village Chapel. Residents are asked to wear face coverings in the Chapel and all pews are marked with social distancing decals to assist with guiding worshipers to their seats.
Life Enrichment is slowly starting to resume the first week of June, while being ever mindful of social distancing, face coverings, and proper sanitation. For example, several new Wii controllers have been purchased to ensure that all participants are able to use a controller that has been sanitized when it is their turn. In addition to Wii Bowling, Cornhole, Movies in the Chapel, and games in the Floor Lounges will begin. Hand sanitizer will be readily available and social distancing signs will be in place as a reminder to stay 6 feet apart. The opera, La Boheme, will be shown as a special feature in the Chapel on June 15th.
With all that is going on in the world, we feel especially blessed to serve the Residents of St. Mark Village. They continue to inspire us while showing their resilience, grace, humor throughout the challenges of coping with Covid-19 — during what were supposed to be their “stress free” years. Thank you for your continued support, encouragement, thoughtful questions, and attention to this page. Please continue to visit us online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19 for the most up-to-date information regarding our response to the virus. Resident families and friends are also invited to view our weekly in-house newsletter, The Lively Mark, online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. Also, please feel free to call us directly at (727) 785-2580.
Peace of Mind for Residents and Families
Trying to keep calm and carry on has been difficult for many of us during this time of Covid-19. Our hearts go out to our Care Centers Residents, families, and friends, who continue to wait for the day when they can see each other in person. In an effort to protect our most vulnerable population in Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living Facilities, Florida Governor, Ron Desantis, has issued an order which currently restricts visitation in the types of ways that these interactions would normally occur.
To help our Residents, families, and friends at our Highland Lakes Assisted Living, we have implemented programs so that they can see and speak to each other through digital technology, and while practicing social distancing. The digital technology is called Skype, and the dedicated Team Members at our Highland Lakes campus will provide assistance. They have a calendar available to schedule a video call via Skype. To do so, please visit our Skype webpage at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Skype.
The Highland Lakes Team is also scheduling “porch visits” for Residents and their families. As always, our first priority is the health and safety of our Residents. Porch visits will allow families to come to the Highland Lakes campus and visit with their loved ones, but at a distance. While they cannot yet put their arms around each other, they can meet, for some much-needed conversation. To schedule a porch visit at the Highland Lakes campus, visit the calendar and choose the day and time you would like to schedule your visit. For questions, feel free to email the Highland Lakes Life Enrichment Coordinator, Kelly Hogan at: email@example.com.
As we adjust to the “new normal,” our Independent Living Residents at the Nebraska Avenue campus are making safe and steady progress. The Village Café & Bakery now has expanded space for dining and gathering. In order to practice social distancing, we have made more room for Residents to enjoy a quick bite and enjoy each other’s company, which is such an integral part of the St. Mark Village culture. In this time of much needed fellowship, we are not just feeding the body, but also the mind and spirit.
We thank all of you who have reached out during these uncertain times to support St. Mark Village with generous donations of food, care packages, and most of all kind words of encouragement. We value the community support and we are so grateful to our partners as we navigate uncharted waters. Your prayers and patience are greatly appreciated, as we begin to transition through the St. Mark Village reopening. As always, continue to look for updates concerning our response to Covid-19 at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19. Please feel free to call our switchboard anytime with questions at (727) 785-2580.
Full Phase 1 Reopening of Florida
Governor, Ron DeSantis, has rolled out his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery,” which details the phased reopening of Florida. As of Monday, May 18th, Governor DeSantis’ plan entered “Full Phase 1.” Restaurants, museums, libraries, retail shops, gyms, and fitness centers can open at 50% capacity, with special designations for barber shops and salons. A myriad of information relating to other services may be found on the State of Florida website at: www.FLGov.com. This is welcomed news for many who have been out of work and quarantined in their homes. However, what does this mean for Florida’s Retirement Communities and/or Healthcare Centers? Here at St. Mark Village, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, both of those designations apply.
Many of you have asked about visiting. Currently, visitors are not allowed at either our Nebraska Avenue campus, including Independent Living, and the Care Centers, or at our Highland Lakes Assisted Living. We continue to screen Residents, Team Members, and essential workers at check points in both locations. We are gathering information and evaluating restrictions on a regular basis. However, at this time, Governor DeSantis is mandating that Assisted Living Facilities and Skilled Nursing Facilities are still prohibited from visitation. We continue to ask for testing and testing that will yield faster results, or any results at all, as you know if you have been following the difficulties that are ongoing. Testing for Covid-19 is a critical component of the Florida Plan. It also has a major impact on St. Mark Village’s ability to strategize and move forward. As Floridians are now midway through Phase 1, the Governor’s approach is to “wait and see” how the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” plan progresses through Phase 1 and into Phase 2.
Now for some positive news. At the Independent Living Center, Residents have started to venture out to walk around our Nebraska Avenue campus, attend important appointments, and shop for essentials. Starting in June, on-site, our Life Enrichment Team will begin making some strides, keeping in mind social distancing, face coverings, and proper sanitation. Currently, we are not planning any large group activities. Also, we are back to offering scheduled transportation using our own St. Mark Village fleet, while practicing social distancing in the vehicles. The Beauty Salon in Independent Living has opened and is scheduling appointments from Monday through Saturday, to safely accommodate our Residents. Pastor Bill’s Bible Study resumed on Tuesday, May 19th. We are now in the midst of working through our options for dining, both in the Independent Living Dining Room and the Village Café & Bakery. Take-out will continue as usual. We are also evaluating our Wellness Program, and when and how to start scheduling classes in our Wellness Center. To keep our Residents, Team Members, families, and friends updated, our in-house newsletter, the Lively Mark, is available in print each Friday, as well as online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark.
We very much hope that in the not too distant future we will be able to gradually and carefully ease restrictions in our Care Centers. As has been our practice from the beginning, we continue to adhere to guidelines from our government officials, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), Department of Health, and Emergency Management. Our hearts go out to our Care Centers families and friends who are waiting for the day when they will be able to see their loved ones in person. This has been a very difficult time for them and that is an understatement. Just know, that we will continue to keep those you hold dear, as safe as we can. To all the families and friends, we miss seeing you. Trust that we will continue to operate with an abundance of caution for the health and well-being of the Residents in our care. We thank all of you who have reached out during these uncertain times to support St. Mark Village with generous donations of food, care packages, and most of all kind words of encouragement. We value the community support and we are so grateful to our partners as we navigate uncharted waters. Your support, prayers, and patience are greatly appreciated as we begin to transition through the Governor’s, and St. Mark Village’s, reopening phases. Please continue to visit us online at www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19 for the latest information. For direct questions, we welcome your calls at (727) 785-2580.
Planning for Life After Coronavirus
There is a feeling in the air at St. Mark Village, even though life here may not be back to normal for quite some time. As the “new, new normal” emerges, we have started to plan, and think about what life might be like on the other side of coronavirus. Visitors are still limited, for the time being, to caregivers from a licensed agency only (that provide care, i.e. medication assistance or showers). Immediate family member visits for critical or time sensitive reasons such as hospice related visits (end of life), complete medical authorizations, etc. will be allowed. No other visitors will be allowed at this time. Groceries/packages for Residents can be left at entry screening desk for delivery.
Residents are beginning to gather in small groups, at a safe distance from one another, to lift each other’s spirits, which is such an integral part of the St. Mark Village culture. They are venturing outdoors to enjoy a walk in the cool spring air. Still, we continue to wear face coverings when out of our apartments and offices, while walking through the hallways and common areas. The once bustling dining room is empty and quiet, awaiting the day when we can once again enjoy a meal in the company of our friends and neighbors.
In this time of the “new, new normal,” Spring clearing is underway at the Village. We have partnered with an environmental cleaning company and environmental consultants to thoroughly disinfect, sterilize, and test our Skilled Nursing Facility and Rehab. Cleaning is done using a disinfectant approved by the EPA in response to the novel corona virus 2019 (Co-vid 19) outbreak. In order to upgrade our practices and regimens throughout the Village, we have purchased EnSURE touch devices used by hygienists to test surfaces before and after cleaning. In addition, we are adding microfiber cleaning cloths and mops that comply with industry best practice at hospitals. Studies have shown that these microfiber cleaning cloths and mops clean better and reduce bacteria and viruses on surfaces. Also, we are now using a Clorox 360 fogger which sprays a disinfectant that becomes electrostatically charged. This method allows the disinfectant to envelop beds, chairs, and surfaces. We have invested in UV machines which are placed in common rooms and bathrooms. These machines are typically used in healthcare applications and can disinfect an area in 20 minutes. Team Member training is already in process in both our Independent Living Center and our Care Centers. One of these tools alone will not accomplish all of our goals, but all of them working together will give us our best chance to protect the Residents we so proudly serve. Hopefully, this equipment combined with new procedures and protocols, will mean additional peace of mind for Residents, Team Members, families, and friends.
Our appreciation for our Team Members, especially those on the front-line in our care centers, knows no bounds. To begin to thank them, as there will never be enough "thank you's," we will be giving out special t-shirts that celebrate their dedication and hard work over the past several months. In addition, we have designed new St. Mark Village face coverings, which we plan to distribute to both Residents and Team Members. If we have to wear a mask, there is no reason we can’t look good doing it. We also have banners on display on both the north and south sides of our property to honor our St. Mark Village Heroes. These caregivers might tell you that they are just doing their jobs, but we know better. The level of commitment and compassion shown by our superheroes cannot be adequately described.
There is a “new, new normal” at St. Mark Village, and we are ready for the next challenge. We continue to mourn those we have lost, and yet we take a moment each day to appreciate the small victories. Although, the “new, new normal” may never resemble the life we once knew, we will do what we have done for the past 40 years, and that is to continue our Mission, “to enrich the lives of the Residents we serve by creating an environment that fulfills their every need - body, mind, and spirit.”
More News about the New Normal
As our country continues to reopen, we are looking ahead, and making plans, here at St. Mark Village. Last week, we told you about the cleaning of our Care Centers and some small steps we have taken in our Independent Living Center to get back to living or what we have been calling the new normal. This week, for example, the St. Mark Village Team has been discussing Resident comings and goings, the reopening of our Beauty Shop, scheduled Transportation for essentials, and Life Enrichment. All while keeping in mind social distancing both inside and outside of our building, hand hygiene, and face coverings.
We have welcomed back two members of our family who were hospitalized, to their homes in our Skilled Nursing Facility. As one of our front-line Healthcare Team Members said, “HUURRRRAAAHHH!” Although, we continue to mourn our losses, we can’t help but revel, if only for a moment, in her feeling of victory.
As always, our top priority remains the health and safety of our entire St. Mark Village family. For our Residents and Team Members, we continue to seek out not only more testing, but also testing that will give us faster results. Our goal is steady progress. That said, we continue to be vigilant and we are ready to change course, if necessary. We will keep communicating, as our situation continues to be fluid and ever changing. We thank you for your support, and kind words of encouragement. They keep us going through the darkest of days.
Our New Normal
In order to clean and disinfect our Betty Fresh Skilled Rehab and our Skilled Nursing Facility, we are partnering with Hillmann Consulting LLC, a leader in environmental consulting, and also the rapid response environmental team from Rolyn Company. Hillmann is retained to monitor the cleaning and disinfection services by Rolyn.
The project will be done in two phases using a disinfectant approved by the EPA in response to the novel coronavirus 2019 (Cov-19) outbreak. The Rehab, which served as our special Covid-19 isolation unit has been finished. Hillman observed the process and then tested the area for cleanliness. Next, following the same protocol, the Skilled Nursing Facility will be decontaminated. This second phase should be done by the end of the week. Our goal is to provide the healthiest and safest environment possible for our loved ones – Residents, Team Members, families, and friends. As always, we appreciate your support as we continue the fight against Covid-19. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, and we will do the same. We will continue to fight together until the battle is won.
In addition to the cleaning of our care centers, we are beginning to take steps to prepare our Residents and Team Members for the “new normal.” After our CEO’s update last week, it is heart-warming to see our Independent Living Residents once again walking around our tree-lined property in the fresh air and sunshine. They continue to wear their masks and practice social distancing both inside and outside our building. To plan for what may occur in the next phases, we have, for example, designed decals to ensure social distancing in our chapel when governing authorities suggest that gatherings in limited capacities are suitable for communities like St. Mark Village. Although we do not know exactly what the coming weeks and months will look like, we will continue to take the words of our CEO, Doug, to heart, as we “do the next right thing” for all our Residents at St. Mark Village.
As our situation is still very fluid and changes daily, we will continue to update Residents, Team Members, families, friends, and our community at www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19. Should you have specific questions regarding our efforts, please call us directly at (727) 785-2580.
On Thursday, April 29th, Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, announced his administration's plans to begin “phase one” of the reopening of Florida, slated to begin Monday, May 4th, 2020. In his address, Governor DeSantis said, "We are going to continue to protect the vulnerable.” This is also what we will continue to do at St. Mark Village. Our priority is the safety and the health of the Residents we serve. So, at this time, St. Mark Village will not be allowing visitors, except for very limited exceptions, in an ongoing effort to protect our Residents at both our Nebraska Avenue and Highland Lakes campuses.
As you know from our previous articles on this page, St. Mark Village will continue to adhere to all guidelines from our government officials, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), Department of Health (DOH), and Division of Emergency Management. In addition, as has been our practice, we will also continue to provide transparency for our Residents, families, friends, and the media regarding our strategy in combating Covid-19.
Stay up to date with The Lively Mark
For family members and friends who have expressed interest in having access to the same information as our Residents and Team Members, we invite you to read the St. Mark Village Lively Mark, the weekly in-house newsletter our Residents receive every Friday in their boxes. This is where you can find timely topics to discuss with your loved ones here at the Village. Many of you do this already. The Lively Mark may be found on our website at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Lively-Mark. One goal of the Lively Mark is to explain updates and changes that are taking place here at the Village as we continue to work to keep your loved ones safe and healthy. View the Video Update from CEO Doug Fresh for Families.
Village Forum Takeaways
This morning our CEO, Doug Fresh, held our monthly Village Forum, which is now televised for our Residents via our in-house television channel. Announcements from the Forum included the following. On Monday, May 4th, we will open our swimming pool. We will also resume offering passes for those who wish to walk outside on our property for exercise. Additionally, while following social distancing guidelines, groups of ten or less may gather for visiting and conversation. Please look for updates and announcements each week as we join together to find and establish our new normal. Doug and his Team will lead the efforts using a gradual, safe, and measured approach.
Some of you have asked us about testing of Residents and Team Members for Covid-19. Testing started Tuesday, April 21st, with assistance from the Department of Health and has been ongoing. On Monday, May 4th, our plan is to have a mobile unit from Advent Health here at St. Mark Village to do additional testing of our Skilled Nursing Facility Residents and Team Members.
It cannot be said often enough. We are sincerely grateful for all of the prayers and support from families, friends, and the community for our Residents and Team Members. This struggle against Covid-19 is not over. The safety and health of each and every one of our Residents is our highest priority. We will be here for them, and you, throughout this battle. Fighting for them, fighting for you. Again, we thank you for your support.
Our Ongoing Efforts
In our ongoing efforts to inform Residents, Team Members, families, friends, and neighbors, we created this page to convey information related to our response to Covid-19. St. Mark Village continues to follow the guidelines set forth by our government officials, World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Health, and Emergency Management. We hope to provide updates as we have them. Sometimes we receive information quickly and clearly, sometimes we do not. All of our situations, personally and professionally, are constantly changing, as we continue to try to overcome together our common enemy Covid-19.
St. Mark Village received more test results the evening of Thursday April 23rd. To recap, this week, working with the Department of Health, Covid-19 testing of all our Skilled Nursing Facility Residents was conducted Tuesday April 21st and Wednesday April 22nd. Team Member testing also took place Tuesday by the Department of Health when they were on site. When we received positive test results for Residents in our Skilled Nursing Facility last evening, a plan was made to transfer Residents to the hospital last night. St. Mark Village Team Members and our dedicated Healthcare Team were on site to provide support and reassurance to our Residents and each other, and to supervise the transfer. Today, the plan continued, and as a result all Skilled Nursing Facility Residents from St. Mark Village who have tested positive are now hospitalized. The Department of Health continues to provide guidance and assistance and may issue more recommendations to us even this weekend. Test results of our Team Members are still pending.
We are sincerely grateful for all of the prayers and support from our St. Mark Village family and the community. St. Mark Village is a not-for-profit Continuing Care Community founded 40 years ago by Pastor James Fresh. As such, Residents, Team Members, families, and friends may know, love, care for, and support each other for many years, even decades. Those of you who have reached out with words of encouragement help us so much as we continue on fighting. Your compassion is especially meaningful to our Healthcare Team battling each and every day on the front lines. So, again thank you, and keep St. Mark Village in your thoughts and prayers.
Testing Questions Answered
St. Mark Village has received many questions, as you would expect during these unprecedented times, as we continue the fight against Covid-19. Our Resident’s families, friends, and other interested parties have called, emailed, and availed themselves of our social media outlets to find answers. One frequently asked question has been about Covid-19 testing for Residents and Team Members. The following is St. Mark Village CEO, Doug Fresh’s response to that question. He is conveying information that he has currently. However, as we all know we are in an ever changing and fluid situation as we continue to battle. We hope this message leads to a greater understanding of what we are doing to protect our Residents and Team Members.
Our confirmed cases have been in our Skilled Nursing Home and are now at local hospitals or being cared for in our Betty Fresh Skilled Rehab, which is serving as our special Covid-19 isolation unit. We have been asking for testing for weeks and have completed testing of all of our Skilled Nursing Home Residents with the help of the Department of Health. Results take a couple of days. Testing may not be available to all 500 Residents living, or all Team Members working, at St. Mark Village. For those of you asking if you can assist us, we suggest reaching out to government officials. You may reach out to your legislators, as we have been doing daily, asking for the Governor's Task Force to come to St. Mark Village to help. We will ask the Department of Health for aid in transporting additional positive Residents to local hospitals if our Care Center leadership feels the need to reach out in the best interest of our Residents and Team Members, as we did last weekend. Our first priority is and always will be the health and safety of our Residents and Team Members. We hope to know the results of current tests soon. Thank you for your concern and efforts to get the attention of the Governor’s Task Force. ~ Doug Fresh, CEO.
Policy of Transparency
Today, St. Mark Village CEO, Doug Fresh did several interviews with the media. He knows that it is important to provide transparency for our Residents, families, friends, and the media regarding our strategy in combating Covid-19. Transparency leads to a greater understanding of what we are doing to protect our Residents here at the Village. Our Healthcare Team has reached out to families to update them about the care we are providing to our Residents who have tested positive. Our 20 bed Skilled Nursing Rehab has become our Covid-19 care and isolation unit, completely separated from all other Care Units, and our Independent Living. For more detail please see the April, 19th article – Our Commitment to Protecting Our Residents. Doug also emphasized that we continue to adhere to guidelines set forth by our government officials, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA).
In order to provide you with the latest information, we want you to know that this afternoon, seven of our Skilled Nursing Facility Residents were transported to local hospitals. In total, thirteen Skilled Nursing Facility Residents and eight Team Members have tested positive for the disease. St. Mark Village proactively reached out to the county and state this weekend for assistance and guidance in this battle against Covid-19. The Village has been in contact with the Governor’s office requesting a National Guard Strike Team to test Residents and Team Members who live and work in the Skilled Nursing Facility, and also to provide PPE for our caregivers.
The health and safety of our Residents and Team Members is always our first priority and so we asked for help. As Doug said, “We want to do what’s right.”
For the most recent and updated information regarding the St. Mark Village response to Covid-19, continue to visit us online at: www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19.
Our Commitment to Protecting Our Residents
Governor DeSantis announced that he has directed Surgeon General Rivkees to begin releasing the names of long-term care facilities in Florida with positive COVID-19 cases. Florida Health Care Association Executive Director, Emmett Reed, immediately released the following statement in response:
"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, our number one priority has been – as it always will be – the health and well-being of the residents entrusted to our care and of the exceptional caregivers working with them. An important part of the process has been open dialogue among long term care facilities and our partners at the local, state, and federal levels. Our members continue working to keep family members informed about their loved ones’ safety while visitor restrictions are in place. We recognize that this decision is based on the need for a transparent flow of information during this challenging time."
In order to effectively respond to potential Covid-19 cases, St. Mark Village began strategizing weeks ago. Our twenty-bed Rehab has become our Covid-19 care and isolation unit, completely separated from all other Care Units, and our Independent Living Center. Our first case was reported on April 10th, 2020. Plans and procedures were then implemented. Our current cases are being isolated and carefully and compassionately cared for in our Skilled Nursing Rehab Unit. No other cases in any other level of care, including our Assisted Living, Memory Care, Highland Lakes Assisted Living, or our Independent Living Center at St. Mark Village, have been reported at this time.
At St. Mark Village we continue to restrict visitors. Upon entering, our Team Members and other essential health care providers undergo a multi-step screening process. We also continue to follow CDC guidelines and adhere to the requirements communicated by local, state, and federal officials. Our exceptional and dedicated Team Members at the Village have always been vigilant in their infection control strategies. These procedures are especially crucial now in order to protect our Residents and Team Members.
Please keep us in your thoughts. Here at St. Mark Village we are committed, minute by minute, day by day, to care for and protect our Residents, Team Members, families and friends, the St. Mark Village family. It will take a Village and we will get through this together.
Reminders on how to prepare for and prevent Covid-19
According to the Florida Health Covid-19 website, adults 65 and older and those with underlying medical conditions like heart disease and lung disease are more likely to develop serious illness. Florida Health has put together a list of simple suggestions, that we all surely know already — though a review certainly won’t hurt.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus (OVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed and avoid exposure to others.
It goes without saying, if you starve the virus from opportunities to spread, you reduce exposure to yourself and others.
If you do need to go outside of your homes, keep at least 6 feet apart (or 2 arm lengths) from others. Avoid hugs, handshakes, large gatherings, and close quarters.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Clean your hands especially after you have been in common areas, blowing your nose or coughing/sneezing. Washing your hands/using hand sanitizer kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow. You are less likely to touch surfaces with an elbow and make sure to dispose of the tissue after use. Droplets from coughing or sneezing spread viruses.
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces like door handles, light switches, counter tops, appliance handles, keyboards, faucets, phones, and desks. First clean the surface and ensure the surface is disinfected with a disinfecting wipe or spray and allow the surface to air dry naturally. The Center for Disease Contact (CDC) has prepared a webpage that is helpful in explaining the best ways to clean and disinfect. Visit the CDC website for more information.
Managing the Monotony
As St. Mark Village Residents continue to abide by the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order, we have been busy working to help pass the time with online resources, exercise classes, a morning show, and important announcements via our website as well as our internal television network.
In addition to these resources, our Wellness Coordinator has begun to broadcast health and wellness classes to include Simply Stretch and Sit and Be Fit available to our Residents on Tuesday and Thursday mornings after our in house morning show. This resource is available at www.StMarkVillage.org/Wellness as well as on our Resource Blog, updated monthly on our website.
We have also created a list of online resources in an effort to help manage the monotony of isolating in place. For a complete list, please visit our resources page at www.StMarkVillage.org/Resources.
With so many of us isolated during these unusual times, some may find it difficult to celebrate Easter apart from the traditions that mean so much to us. We hold fast to the traditions we’ve become accustomed to when we gather to celebrate. To many, Easter means family, Easter dinner, worship services, and maybe even a new Easter hat. So how do we celebrate Easter while isolated from the ones we love and the traditions we hold dear?
As we isolate this Easter in our homes, separated from loved ones — take solace in the fact that we are not alone. Christ followers will gather around the world on this day to celebrate the Risen Savior. St. Mark Village will be doing so as well. Our own Pastor Bill Magee will host Good Friday and Easter services from the St. Mark Village chapel, broadcasting to the St. Mark Village Residents via our in house TV channel as well as Facebook Live. For those who wish to join us in our celebration, our Facebook page may be found at: www.facebook.com/StMarkVillage. Our Residents are invited to join us at these times on channel 732, as well as on Facebook.
Join us and celebrate Easter with a new tradition and confidently keep your old traditions by gathering on Easter Sunday with family via Facetime. Don’t forget to dress the part, wearing your favorite Easter hat. The location has changed, the celebration remains the same. Join St. Mark Village Residents, family and Team Members as we worship the Risen Savior this Easter.
In this Holy Week, we are focused on keeping the faith while staying safe. We will be televising a Good Friday and Easter Sunday Worship Service for our Residents on an in-house channel and going Live on Facebook for families and friends.
Executive Order from Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis
St. Mark Village will continue to adhere to all guidelines from our government officials, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA). Below is an executive order from Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, outlining essential services and activities in the State of Florida.
- Religious services in churches, synagogues, and houses of worship
- Recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines (walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running, swimming)
- Taking care of pets
- Caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend
- Health care providers (hospitals, doctors' and dentists' offices, urgent care centers, clinics, rehabilitation facilities, physical therapists, mental health professionals, psychiatrists, therapists, pharmacies)
- Grocery stores, farmers' markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores
- Businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals
- Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services
- Gas stations
- Auto supply, auto repair, and related facilities
- Banks and related financial institutions
- Hardware stores
- Contractors and other tradesmen, appliance repair personnel, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other structures
- Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
- K-12 schools, public and private colleges and universities, trade schools, and technical colleges (distance learning only)
- Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food (take-out and delivery only)
- Businesses that supply office products
- Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services via automobile, truck, bus, or train
- Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children
- Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, adult day care centers, and senior residential facilities
- Professional services, such as legal or accounting services
- Landscape and pool care businesses, including residential landscape and pool care services
- Child care facilities
- Businesses operating at any airport, seaport, or other government facility, including parks and government offices
- Pet supply stores
- Waste management services
We will continue to put the health, safety, and well-being of our Residents and Team Members first. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding how St. Mark Village is operating in these unprecedented times, please feel free to reach out at (727) 785-2580 or stay up-to-date via our website www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19 and our social media outlets. Follow us on Facebook at @StMarkVillage or Instagram at @stmarkvillage for the most recent information as it becomes available.
Covid-19 Safer At Home
Effective noon on March 26th, our local officials issued a “Covid-19 Safer At Home” order for Pinellas County. The order states all persons shall strictly adhere to the CDC Social Distancing guidelines, including but not limited to:
- Persons shall not congregate in groups, and groups of more that 10 are prohibited.
- All persons not part of the same family unit must remain at least 6 feet apart.
- Persons in a line must adhere to these requirements.
- Every person that enters our Community, including all Team Members, must go through the screening process. This includes having your temperature taken.
- All regularly scheduled St. Mark transportation is discontinued. However, transportation will be available by appointment when absolutely necessary.
- It is our intention to supply items our Residents need at both our Nebraska Avenue and Highland Lakes campuses. Of course, this will depend on the availability of supplies as time goes on.
- Our Resident Services department is available and happy to shop for Residents with specific wants and needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
With increasing concerns regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19); we continue to put the health and safety of our Residents, Team Members, families, and guests as first priority at St. Mark Village. Our Executive Team continues to closely monitor the situation and we are adhering to all recommendations made by the CDC and local health officials regarding Retirement, Continuing Care, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and Rehab facilities.
Below are answers to many of the frequently asked questions we receive:
How is St. Mark Village protecting those they care for in their Care Centers?
We are monitoring the most recent and up to date information available from the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and the Agency for Healthcare Administration on a daily basis. We have limited our Care Centers to emergency personnel only and we are closely monitoring each Care Center Resident. Should you have questions you’d like to ask directly, please feel free to call us at (727) 785-2580.
Where can I find resources on how to care for my own family?
Our CEO published a helpful article last week in our Resource Blog which answers many of your questions regarding “Caring for Family During Covid-19”. You can view the article and many others at www.StMarkVillage.org/News-Events.
Are the St. Mark Village Residents able to see loved ones?
We are not permitting visitation at this time to our Care Centers as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and the Agency for Healthcare Administration. To schedule a virtual visit please see the information below. We are strongly recommending that families and friends who have loved ones in our Independent Living do not visit but stay at home and keep themselves safe and healthy. That is the best course of action to protect our Independent Living Residents. Please stay in touch as much as possible via letters, phone, email, FaceTime, Skype etc.
How can I contact my loved ones in the Care Centers at St. Mark Village?
To help you stay in close contact with your loved ones we have created a Skype Video Call page for those who would like to connect via Skype with loved ones in our Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, or In-Patient Rehab. For more information regarding how to schedule a video call, visit www.StMarkVillage.org/Skype.
Who can I contact if I have questions regarding Skype video calls?
For questions regarding a loved one residing at our Highland Lakes Assisted Living, please contact Sheila Kynion, Administrator of the Highland Lakes Assisted Living, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions regarding a loved one residing at our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers, please contact Kimberly Glem, Care Center Enrichment Director at email@example.com.
Please feel free to direct all other questions to our operators at (727) 785-2580.
Schedule a Skype video call with your loved ones at St. Mark Village Care Centers
For those who have loved ones in our Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, or In-Patient Rehab; we are using Skype and our dedicated Team Members to connect you directly. We have set up a calendar for you to schedule a video call via Skype, just follow these 3 simple steps!
1. Download and install Skype from your App Store or via the Skype website at: www.skype.com
2. Click on the Campus where your loved one resides
3. Schedule your Skype call and we will ensure the call is ready at your scheduled time
Schedule your call below:
Please watch this helpful tutorial video which will walk you through how to use Skype. Watch Video Now.
This information is also available on our Skype webpage at www.StMarkVillage.org/Skype
St. Mark Village is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Skype. The name Skype, Skype logo, and Skype app icon are registered trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.
In an effort to keep our St. Mark Village family safe and healthy, we have taken various precautions, as mandated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization, and the Agency for Healthcare Administration. We encourage you to do the same to protect your own family.
- Frequent hand washing
- Maintaining a 6-foot distance from those around you
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Appropriately covering coughs and sneezes
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Well-stocked bathrooms (running water, soap, and paper towels)
- Trash disposal bins
- Shortness of breath
- CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019
- World Health Organization’s Coronavirus disease advice for the public
Coronavirus Update from St. Mark Village CEO, Doug Fresh
As you are aware, concerns regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) have been increasing in recent weeks. We want to let you know that the health and safety of our Residents, Team Members, families, and guests is our first priority at St. Mark Village. Our executive team and health care team is closely monitoring the situation, and we will adhere to any recommendations made by the CDC and local health officials regarding Retirement, Continuing Care, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and Rehab facilities. This is a dynamic situation that is changing every day. Below is an update from our CEO regarding how St. Mark Village is addressing Coronavirus (COVID-19). View video update now.
This message shares our plans and business continuity response to the current COVID-19 health crisis. With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the dominant topic in the news, we want to provide updates for St. Mark Village Residents, their families, Team Members, and business partners.
We are responding to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and the Agency for Healthcare Administration on a daily basis. This morning at 11:30, we gathered for a conference call to receive an update from our Governor and the Agency for Healthcare Administration. We are communicating with our Team Members each day to share the latest information we have and we are in contact with Residents, their families, Team Members, and business partners directly, when appropriate, to share our planning. View video update now.