“When I first heard about COVID-19, I expected it to hit Los Angeles or New York City first because they are heavily traveled areas,” said Ellie Basham, executive director of Life Care Center of Kirkland in Washington. “I never imagined it would hit Life Care Center of Kirkland.”
Yet on Feb. 28, 2020, the unwelcome, silent enemy entered Life Care Center of Kirkland. When the first COVID-19 test came back positive, many were in shock, and the action began without hesitation to contain this virus. As the virus swept through the building and affected residents and staff, the outside world was watching the associates' every move. Meanwhile, inside the walls of Life Care Center of Kirkland, associates banded together in this battle to fight the virus head-on and stabilize the facility.
During the battle of COVID-19, the love and support from community was unmeasurable to Kirkland. Basham had only been at Life Care Center of Kirkland for five weeks before the first case occurred, and the community rallying together and standing behind them gave her encouragement that kept her going. Letters of encouragement from across the country poured in, local businesses brought food and water to drop off, and her faithful team worked around the clock to protect and care for their residents.
“My team is amazing,” reflected Ellie. “I would not trade them for anything. They are solid and keep showing up every day for their residents, and they continue to be dedicated.”
As the virus diminished in Life Care Center of Kirkland, the Champions Rise campaign was launched to recognize, honor and celebrate the champions who work and live at the facility. Every single person in the Kirkland facility is a champion who fought COVID-19. And champions deserve to be celebrated. Life Care Centers of America, the parent company for Life Care Center of Kirkland, rolled the internal campaign out to all its 208 facilities after witnessing the hard work and determination that deserved celebration.
Many local newspapers and radio shows have reached out to Ellie and the facility to recognize the campaign and staff. It is exciting for the staff to see the campaign popping up around their community. T-shirts were made that read, “Stronger Together,” and the staff coordinates wearing them on the same day to take pictures. The staff’s spirits have been lifted since the campaign has been introduced.
“Working in skilled nursing care is a true calling,” said Ellie. “To have the Home of Champions campaign really showed our employees how what they did and are doing is important. We are a team that went through fire. We are fighting, and we will continue to fight.”
Looking toward the future, this is the new normal for Kirkland. COVID-19 has changed a lot of regulations in facilities, and embracing the change is something the staff is doing. The staff agrees that they do not want to go back; they must keep moving forward and advancing their care for their residents.
“If COVID-19 can’t take Life Care Center of Kirkland down, then nothing is going to take us down,” said Ellie.
Life Care Center of Kirkland as of today, has been COVID-19-free since May 2020. Champions do live and work there, and they deserve to be honored every day.