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Employees, residents pull together during pandemic

The COVID-19 global pandemic has forced many changes throughout the world, as people have been asked to navigate daily tasks of life with exceeding care and caution. Few places have been as affected as congregate living communities, and few people have been asked to do more than the residents and employees of the PMMA family.

As the pandemic continues into autumn, we asked Clay Center Presbyterian Manor Executive Director Morgan Burton to talk about the lingering effect of the coronavirus, and about the way in which staff and residents have worked together to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone.

On June 9, Presbyterian Manor discovered it had its first positive case of COVID-19 in the building. On the heels of that disappointing news, state surveyors visited Clay Center three times in the span of a few short weeks.

The staff handled the situation head on, as a team.

“Many team members worked late the day we found out about COVID,” Morgan said. “Many have stepped into roles that wouldn’t typically be their job.”

Clay Center Presbyterian Manor Executive Director Morgan Burton

The hearty response from staff matches the heart they all have for residents.

“I have a solid team that genuinely cares about each other and the safety and well-being of all staff and residents,” Morgan said.

Throughout this pandemic, Morgan said the natural bonds between staff and residents have been strengthened and enhanced.

“I think during a crisis, it’s human nature to adapt towards people. I would say these bonds have deepened simply by residents putting so much trust in the team to keep them safe.”

That has included providing as much information as possible to residents and filling in for the role of family during a time when visitors aren’t allowed out of concern for safety.

“We are constantly communicating with them on what is going on in the building,” Morgan said. “Answering all their questions, reassuring them that everything will be okay.”

As the community moves toward a phased reopening, that high level of communication will remain important — as will addressing unforeseen challenges that emerge.

“One challenge will be getting family and residents to follow guidance on social distancing,” Morgan said. “If I hadn’t seen my loved ones in five months, I would want to hug them, so I get it. But we are going to educate, educate, educate. We’re going to educate all family members as they enter the building and individually educate each resident.”

Many lessons have been learned during the pandemic, and those lessons serve to better prepare for the future — and to better understand how to leverage the power of teamwork to meet any challenge.

“We’re working together with the team and the health department on a plan. We’re starting with limited outdoor visits,” Morgan said.

Together, with staff and residents pulling in the same direction, the future will be brighter than ever.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” she said.

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