“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~ Maya Angelou

 COVID-19 and the “new normal” have taken everyone on a roller coaster ride in the last nine months like none of us have ever seen, even the oldest of the residents at Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab. And our residents no doubt, have seen a great deal in their lifetimes! In addition to the excellent care and therapy they receive here at MJHR, they were used to enjoying frequent visits from family and friends, an abundance of group activities, outings to fun places, meals with fellow residents, live entertainment, and so much more. But all that came to a stop in early March as COVID-19 invaded the Mid-South area.

As the leadership and staff of MJHR looked to the Departments of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for guidance, it was their responsibility to do what they could to keep this terrible disease out of the facility. Unfortunately, closing the building to outside visitors, stopping all group activities and meals, screening for temperatures and symptoms, wearing masks all the time, and testing staff weekly, etc. became just some necessary changes to keep everyone safe and healthy.

I’ve witnessed (and lived myself) a gamut of emotions throughout this ordeal, but the bottom line is that I am blown away by the overall resilience of our patients and residents, positive attitude and dedication of our staff, and compassion and generosity of our donors. They all refuse to be defined by this pandemic and are committed to doing what they can to make the best of the situation, as Maya Angelou says.

I still see our patients and residents smiling as they FaceTime with family or visit with Ginger, the dog who lives here at the Home. Bingo is still a hit, even when it’s played from a hallway or outside in the garden. The family parades were a highlight for everyone as we were able to see families in person after such a long time of them being away. Happy Hour is still fun even if your drink is delivered to your room. Yes, it would be better for everything to be back to normal, but our patients and residents have understood and appreciated the reasons why the restrictions have been put into place.

As for our staff, they, unlike many in our country, are not able to work from home. Everyone here is essential. From day one, when it was scary to be out of your house, our staff came to work to care for and protect our precious patients and residents. Some are single parents with school age children who were suddenly learning from home. Others had spouses who lost jobs or were furloughed. Others were taking care of their own vulnerable family members at home. But each day, they put their own stresses aside and came in.

I have always been in awe of our nursing staff who provide the direct care to our patients and residents. They and the administrative nurses who support them have always been dedicated, but this pandemic has taken their jobs to a whole new level. Watching our activities staff pivot to continue to keep our residents busy and keep smiles on their faces, has been inspirational. Those who work behind the scenes, like dining services, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, and the business office are just as essential to keeping our facility running as well.

As the challenges of fighting to keep COVID out of our facility and the sacrifices being made by our staff became apparent to our supporters, they stepped up to the plate in a big way to help.  Donations to fund increasingly expensive personal protective equipment, screening equipment, and cleaning and sanitizing equipment have come in to help with the fight against COVID.  Donations to fund meals, treats, and gift cards have come in to show compassion for our staff and the hard work they are doing. Our resident services committee came together to provide items for the residents since they couldn’t go out shopping. They bought all of their favorite snacks, toiletries, etc., and each resident was able to pick out items for themselves.  And they built up our supply of movies and books as well.

Scan to see the
2020 No-Go Golf Tournament Program

As the difficult decision was made to cancel the Home’s only annual fundraiser, most of our usual sponsors and donors still gave to the 2020 No-Go Golf Tournament.  In fact, the proceeds from this year were second only to last year.  You can see the program by scanning the QR code on this page.  Our donors understand that the funds are not only needed every year, but especially THIS year.  Their compassion for our seniors continues no matter what else is going on in their own lives.

All our lives have been changed during this pandemic.  But you can still have the resilience, positive attitude, and compassion like all those involved with MJHR to do what you can to have a positive impact on other people’s lives.