SD Times Magazine Interview with Cheryl Wilson, RN and CEO – St. Paul’s Senior Services
1. How has this pandemic affected the senior community at St. Paul’s?
St. Paul’s prides itself on anticipating the needs of our seniors. Like all senior communities, we have infection control procedures in place. We locked down all our buildings over two weeks ago with only necessary staff and residents in the communities these days. We did this ahead of the state directive for the safety of our residents. No visitors may enter. This is having the most significant effect on our seniors, who usually enjoy family visits, lively entertainment, and outings.
2. Tell me about the resources St. Paul’s is offering to its members.
One of the benefits of senior living is that at times like this, we do have large supplies and resources at hand, not only meals and medical supplies but also staffing. Our nursing staff, physicians, caregivers, activities staff, dietary, and cleaning staff are all on-site, providing excellent care, and getting together to entertain residents at their doors. Residents don’t have to worry about grocery shopping because we provide three meals each day, we are taking orders with staff doing grocery runs and deliveries, and we are taking Food Bank essentials to our homebound St. Paul’s PACE seniors. (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly)
3. What kind of precautions is the nonprofit taking to protect its members?
Over 3 weeks ago we started severe infection control measures throughout all our programs with additional refresher training in all departments from Dietary to admissions. We activated sanitation precautions three or more times/day; hand washing protocols for all persons in all our buildings and homebound programs; temperature checks; standard screening questions at each entry point; and hand sanitizer stations throughout the organization. We inventoried all our PPE for potential deployment, and evaluated staff for possible remote working. We are providing for telemedicine, and teleconferencing with families for our seniors.
Nonprofit organizations, specifically those who are faith-based, bring much to the emotional and spiritual well-being of our residents, which, at times like this, is incredibly important. We have on-site Chaplains who meet with residents (of course practicing social distancing). Bringing peace of mind, and prayer to our seniors, and staff, reduces stress and increases well-being. As I mentioned earlier we have an infection control team and policies that become our roadmap for providing excellent care and ensuring the safety of our residents. Staff is well educated on signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and residents are trained on what they must do to be safe.
4. What kind of help does St. Paul’s need from the public?
The isolation is the most difficult for our residents. We recently received a delivery of flowers and homemade cards at one of our locations which was a tremendous treat for our residents. If the public would like to do something similar, write cards which we can deliver, or even to offer a short phone call to seniors, we would love to hear from you at 619 239 6900.
5. How can the public support the seniors in the community?
We have a program called PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.) It is a medical program specifically for low income seniors who are struggling to live at home independently. We provide medical care and home care, and right now I understand they need personal cleaning supplies, activity books, and little gifts to cheer them up – maybe some cozy socks, nice hand soaps, things like that. I think at this time the best way is to donate on our website so our teams can safely purchase and deliver items for those seniors at www.StpaulSeniors.org.
6. Anything else to add?
Yes, we want to remind everyone that there are seniors in the community who may appreciate support. We at St. Paul’s are hosting wellness checks for the community seniors, and are directing them to current San Diego resources like food banks, delivery services, and prayer circles. We have that resource list on our website under “Virus updates,” please offer it to seniors you know in the community. And if you know someone who would benefit from a wellness check, please contact us via the website. We will make it happen.
St. Paul’s is celebrating 60 years serving seniors this year, and in February, our CEO Cheryl Wilson celebrated her 30th Anniversary as CEO.