"Our first inkling that the COVID-19 outbreak might affect us was in mid-February," says Sandy. "We visited with priority list members at Eagle's Trace whose son and his family live in China and were unable to return after they spent the Christmas holiday in the United States. That's when we began thinking this problem could span the globe."
Tom and Sandy, having already weathered Hurricane Harvey at Eagle's Trace, knew the community had processes in place for any type of potential threat.
"We are so glad we live at Eagle's Trace and not in our former home," says Sandy. "Here, we are aware and told about every coming change or alteration to our lives. In a neighborhood of homes, you rely on hearsay and rumors."
Continuous monitoring, proactive response
Changes at Eagle's Trace came rapidly as COVID-19 cases escalated around the world. The executive staff activated an incident command team before the first case of the virus was reported in the United States.
"Our processes are continually adapting as we seek out the best options for communication, supply management, staffing, and process implementation," says Executive Director Stephen Aigner.
By the time Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a 'stay-at-home' order on March 24, Eagle's Trace residents and staff had already pivoted to a new way of doing things.
Residents were asked to remain in their apartments as staff members across the community assumed roles outside of their typical scope of work to meet the evolving needs within the community.
Dining services across the community's four restaurants have switched to delivery service, taking meals directly to residents' apartments. Concierge services mobilized to deliver coffee, tea, toiletries, packages and mail, ensuring residents don't have to enter common spaces to retrieve items.
"We have always appreciated the staff and consider many of them like family," says Sandy. "During difficult times like Hurricane Harvey and COVID-19, we are amazed at how the staff rallies to care for us. 'No' is not in their vocabulary. The 500 employees at Eagle's Trace have the residents' best interests in mind, showering us with kindness, love, and care."
United while apart
As terms like "social distancing" and "personal protective equipment" became part of everyday conversation, residents and staff are finding ways to connect while following social distancing protocols.
Video messages from staff members air on the community's in-house television station, which also broadcasts exercise programs and entertainment.
Aigner hosts a virtual town hall, live streamed directly to residents' devices. Residents are able to submit questions for the town hall through a dedicated email address.
"We miss the social interactions and the activities that make this such a fun place to live," says Sandy. "But we've also seen residents reach out to each other in ways they can, spending time on the phone checking on neighbors."
"It's times like these I'm reminded of the phrase, 'Tough times don't last, tough people do,'" says Aigner. "We'll be stronger together on the other side of this."
About Eagle's Trace: Eagle's Trace, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 72-acre campus in West Houston, Texas. The not-for-profit community of more than 960 residents and 500 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight. Additional information can be found at EaglesTraceCommunity.com.