Think back to eight months ago. Where were you when you heard the news that a mysterious virus had invaded the United States? Mass panic erupted in many states as frantic shoppers swarmed grocery stores to buy necessities to last for months. Many shelves at grocery stores remain empty to this day due to high demand of certain products. Do you remember the moment you heard the news? Stress and overwhelming fear washed over you and struck every nerve in your body because you felt like you had little to no control over the future. 2020 has turned into a year that no one will forget, but it has also turned into a reminder of what matters most.
Rivergate Health Care Center and Rivergate Terrace, also known within the community as the Rivergate Complex, are two of many skilled nursing facilities that have been gravely impacted by the pandemic. On March 25, 2020, Rivergate Terrace reported its first case of COVID-19. Rivergate Health Care Center followed close behind and reported its first case on April 6. Although life became a whirlwind following the positive case at each building, one constant remained – the associates at the facilities continued to fight to protect the safety of their residents. The associates worked tirelessly to remain up to date on latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and continued to enforce infection control protocols. Not only were associates battling the virus from within the walls of the facilities; they were also battling the misinformation that spread like a wildfire outside each facility.
The teams at the Rivergate Complex have uprooted their routines to safeguard the facilities’ residents. While many outsiders were criticizing the facilities, the associates were also experiencing the tragedy and heartbreak of the vicious virus that took the lives of 59 precious residents, as well as one co-worker. When you are a healthcare provider, you understand that your highest priority is to care for the people you serve as if they are your own family member, and they in fact do become like family. As time went on, associate morale dropped because the grim reality finally settled in. Life would never be the same for them, and that allowed discouragement to make a home in the hearts of associates at both facilities.
It was evident that the pandemic had taken a huge toll on the associates, so the facilities’ executive directors Sujata Chaddha, at Rivergate Terrace, and Michelle Peeper, at Rivergate Health Care Center, gathered their teams and decided it was time to rise from the ashes. The result of this step forward was the birth of Home of Champions, an internal associate engagement campaign that was created to intentionally admire the associate heroes that walk among us every day who go unnoticed but deserve our recognition and praise.
The campaign seeks to encourage associates through everything from handwritten notes to team-inspired signage throughout the facility to an inspirational champion-themed devotional booklet written by a former president of Life Care.
“The virus scared everybody, and still does, but our communities know us and the quality of health care we have delivered for nearly five decades,” said John Polturanus, vice president for Life Care’s Lakes Region. “The crisis we faced made us stronger, more focused and better prepared. Families in the communities we serve can be confident that the residents and patients we care for receive a high level of service in the safest possible environment.”
On Oct. 22, both facilities hosted their own memorial service and each dedicated a permanent memorial plaque in honor of the 59 residents and associate who lost their lives to COVID-19. The road to being COVID-free indefinitely is long and winding, but the steadfast teams at the Rivergate Complex are taking every measure and precaution to assure their residents that they will not waver in their fight against the virus and in their commitment to protect the peace of mind and safety of their residents and family members.
Today, Rivergate Terrace and Rivergate Health Care Center are both proud to be a Home of Champions – a place where true champions live and work.