A sigh of relief could be felt across Life Care Centers of America as day broke on Thursday, September 29. Category 4 hurricane Ian had moved across the state of Florida during the night, potentially threatening the residents and associates in 21 Life Care facilities. Through teamwork and preparedness, our brave associates in each location were able to ensure the safety of our residents from danger.
As each facility called with status updates to division vice president, Aaron Preston, a new threat emerged. On the other end of the line, a concerned executive director exclaimed, “The water is rising at Life Care Center of Orlando!”
Orlando is located in the center of the state, which offered protection from the worst of the hurricane’s wrath. However, as a result of the tremendous rainfall, the nearby rivers and streams crested, and without warning, a surge of floodwater swiftly filled the streets and the parking lot of Life Care Center of Orlando.
Parked cars filled with water. Before long, water breached the facility and continued to rise. Immediate evacuation of residents and associates was the only option. Despite the cold, rainy conditions and standing flood waters, our team of facility and division associates, alongside the National Guard and first responders, worked through the night to move all the residents to safety.
I am extremely proud of the way our associates in Florida stood firm against Hurricane Ian and its aftermath. I am amazed at the example they set, their dedication to our residents and the selflessness displayed by the staff at the locations most affected: Life Care Center of Punta Gorda, Life Care Center of Estero, Life Care Center of Altamonte Springs, Life Care Center of Orlando, Life Care Center of Sarasota, Darcy Hall and The Gardens Court.
Whatever It Takes Champions have never been more apparent than in that moment and the days following. Below is a glimpse of the Life Care spirit through the eyes of those who lived it.
I am one of the 121 residents evacuated from Life Care Center of Orlando due to flooding caused by Hurricane Ian. I am reaching out to sing the praises of our staff for their valiant efforts and sacrifices that night to be sure all the residents were safe. It was not just nurses and CNAs that did whatever it took and then some but laundry and housekeeping, kitchen staff, activities, therapy, the social services, and business office managers, as well as all department managers and the administrator-in-training.
Not only did they keep us safe, but they offered water and snacks, and passed out blankets so residents going out into the cold, wet night would be warm. The regional vice president, Jeff Thomas, worked like a dynamo through the night getting the residents loaded on boats and trucks. He made sure the staff got out along with the residents. The division vice president, Aaron Preston, also came in to be sure everyone got out safely.
In my opinion, these people represent the very best of Life Care Centers of America. They more than uphold the Life Care motto, Whatever it Takes and Then Some! If I could give each of them a million dollars, it would not be enough to thank them for that night. After the evacuation they continued to work at Life Care Center of Altamonte Springs, caring for the Orlando residents.
They are a shining example of grace under pressure. They are the shining stars of Life Care.
Life Care Center of Orlando
I wanted to tell you how incredible you and your team were while visiting Gardens Court. From the very start your crew was personable, great smiles on the faces and worked tirelessly to ensure their residents were safe and comfortable. They never once stopped or paused in their mission. My team was thoroughly impressed and certainly stepped back to reflect upon themselves that in the light of your team’s own concerns and worries for the personal families and lives, they rose to the occasion and made it happen as a team for these residents. We are honored to have hosted your residents and even more honored to have had some of your team here at GC. Their composure during this hectic week was testament to your leadership and Punta Gorda’s commitment to its residents.
Thank you for the opportunity!!
Kris Bernsten, Executive Director
The Gardens Court
Words cannot express the gratitude I have for you and your wonderful team at The Gardens Court. I appreciate you sharing these kind words and compliments and I will be sure to pass this message off to my staff. However, please know that the feelings are completely mutual. I believe the support and compassion your staff provided was one factor that helped my team keep pushing forward. My staff members mentioned numerous times how they were so thankful to have been placed with such a kind group of people (and of course, in such a beautiful facility). Witnessing the hugs and tears during our goodbye yesterday was proof of your team's amazing hospitality!
Life Care Center of Punta Gorda is forever indebted to you.
Elizabeth Brust, Executive Director
Life Care Center of Punta Gorda
Nothing matches the heart and compassion of our associates, who stood courageously between our residents and the fury of the hurricane. The character and commitment of associates is the real strength of our company. I could not be prouder!
You are indeed champions of care.
If you'd like to know how you can help associates who have been displaced by the hurricane. The Florida Health Care Association has established a Hurricane Relief Fund through the Florida Health Care Education and Development Foundation, a 501c(3) tax exempt organization. The fund will benefit employees of FHCA member centers who were affected by Hurricane Ian. Their goal is to assist as many of them as possible through your generous donations. All donations received will go directly to those in need.
Information about how to apply for financial support will be made available on their website soon.
Additional support can be found here: