Guest columnist Linda Kielson: The caring caregivers at Elaine Center

Thursday, November 12, 2020

I do not have enough superlative words to describe and define the work of the caregiving and management staff at my father David’s nursing home, Elaine Center at Hadley. I want everyone to know about them, so that we can all do as much as we can to support them by influencing policy at the polls, by writing letters to our governing representatives, and by thanking these workers whenever or however we might have that opportunity.

And so we all know to send our loved ones there, if that time arises. We are specifically being asked to contact our representatives to request that they seek increases in Medicaid reimbursements to nursing homes so that they can pay their certified nursing assistants a living wage.

We have been continually touched and awed by the extraordinary care, competence, awareness, education, skill and compassion of the caregiving staff that has watched over my father since he arrived in the Memory Care Unit of this nursing home three years ago. My father has thrived there. He is happy, he feels loved, and he has a family among the residents and staff there. Moreover, we have loved going to visit him there and have felt a great sense of community with the other residents, their family and the staff.

Since the pandemic, however, our feelings of appreciation have multiplied exponentially. Every single day for the past six months and counting, the caregiving staff has shown up and done the incredibly labor-intensive and stressful jobs they already had, but now underneath N-95 masks, goggles, gloves, gowns and sometimes even face shields — for eight hours or more a day, five days or more a week.

And whether or not they want to, and I guess that at least some are not always doing it out of choice, I can attest to the fact that they are successfully managing to shield any difficult feelings they are having from the residents and patients, because my father is really happy and notably content.

We are all weary of these extra demands and stresses placed on us by this extended pandemic, but these extraordinarily hard-working caregivers must be most weary and need all the support that we can possibly give them. And while this letter is to champion the caregiving staff, I must also take the opportunity to laud the management staff of this nursing home, especially the director, Lisa Walters-Zucco, who has literally saved so many lives — not only those of the residents and patients, but also of the staff and their families, and she has worked tirelessly and above and beyond all expectation.

But please help me help her by contacting our representatives and imploring them to seek Medicaid reimbursement increases so they can pay their CNAs a living wage. And send your loved ones to the Elaine Center at Hadley.