During These Times

It seems to me that there is almost nothing more anxiety-producing than uncertainty, with questions being far easier to generate than answers. In my years in healthcare, I have never encountered anything with the level of uncertainty that is even close to what we are living with now, in the era of COVID-19. When will it end? What can we do? Who will become ill? How ill? What will happen to me, to my family? The questions are endless and the answers are just not available.

I know that many of these worries are being felt by families who are sheltering in place in our community. And I know that they are being felt, in even greater measure, by our healthcare workers, the staff who come to work in our long term care and assisted living facilities every day.

In our buildings we have 100% of the staff wearing facemasks in resident care areas and even in the public hallways. So what I see when I make rounds are just eyes above the masks, eyes that I have seen many times but never the way I see them now, peering over the masks that cover the majority of their faces.

Some of those eyes look anxious, I can see the questions in them that I can’t answer, that none of us can answer. Some of those eyes look tired, both from doing their work as well as carrying the stress. But I can tell you that those eyes all show determination. Each of them is resolute in their commitment to the work that we do and to the care of our elders.

There are many heroes in this war on coronavirus. The doctors, nurses and hospital staff; the first responders; the unsung heroes who make sure that the grocery stores and pharmacies are still open and available; the list goes on and on and all of them deserve our thanks and recognition. But I can tell you that the staff who work with older adults, who understand the heightened vulnerability of this population and have committed to come to work and give it their all, they are my heroes, today and every day.

One day soon I hope to look into those eyes and see relief. One day soon I hope to look into those faces and see smiles. And one day soon I hope to give each of them the hug they deserve, with gratitude and love and undying appreciation.

About the Author
Carol Silver Elliott is President and CEO of The Jewish Home Family, which runs NJ's Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living, Jewish Home Foundation and Jewish Home at Home. She joined The Jewish Home Family in 2014. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Cedar Village Retirement Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is chair-elect of LeadingAge and past chair of the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
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