Plantation Village is continuing to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lessons have been learned and changes made at the retirement community of just over 300 residents, ranging in ages from 62 to 100 years old, said Zane Bennett, executive director of Plantation Village, 1200 Porters Neck Road.
Bennett oversees the community’s day-to-day operations, and more recently, everything that has to do with COVID-19 prevention, education, risk management and health and well-being, he said.
As of November, there were no resident cases of the coronavirus at Plantation Village, Bennett said. But the community is still taking preventative measures, installing equipment and implementing new tactics to keep residents safe, while also focusing on their wellness.
GWBJ: How are things going, and is Plantation Village monitoring the surge in cases happening across the nation?
: “We’re proceeding with caution. Coming out of a holiday weekend, we have taken some preventative measures. So we’re shutting down some of the things that we had opened up like dining; we opened up the modified dining. And some of the meeting spaces, we’re temporarily closing those for 14 days. That started on Nov. 27, just because we know as increased travel and a possible spike are on the horizon, we want to do our part to make sure that there isn’t a spread through those indoor areas. It’s a targeted approach. We’re not shutting down the entire community like we did early on, but reducing the indoor meeting spaces, indoor dining for a period just allows us to monitor, allows us to do another round of testing for our associates, and make decisions based on that information.”
GWBJ: With Christmas coming up, do you have an action plan?
“What we have done for Thanksgiving and what we’ll do for Christmas and other holidays is we’ll provide a lot of education on the front end; we will provide education on the CDC guidance. And as an independent living community, we want residents to make decisions independently, but obviously those decisions could have [impacts] on others, so our community, as residents and our team members, have been really good about making those tough decisions that benefit themselves and others. And depending on what happens in the next threeto- four weeks, as we get closer to Christmas, we could look at more restrictions. But right now, it’s really targeting those indoor areas. We want to do what we can in a safe environment.
“And when I think about the next 30 days, I think about the FDA’s pending approval of the vaccine and Plantation Village will be part of that phase one rollout, because we have residents over the age of 65 living in a congregate setting [and] we have health care workers.”
GWBJ: What has been learned since March?
“We’ve learned that there’s things that we can do differently; services that we can provide differently. When I think back to March, we didn’t know what this virus was going to look like. We’ve learned a lot over the last nine months about how it spreads, what are the high-risk scenarios, and we’ve been able to adjust accordingly. So, I think that’s why you won’t see at Plantation Village this complete shutdown where everybody stays in their home and there’s no interaction. We just learn how to do things differently. You can still have face-to-face interactions, but they need to be spread out; they need to be outdoors. Everyone continues to wear a mask, both associates and residents. That’s helpful.”
GWBJ: What other investments has Plantation Village had to make since this started? And have rates increased?
“Thankfully, no. The rates didn’t go up this year … As far as the spend, I estimate the investment just on equipment to date is probably in the ballpark range between $75,000 and $100,000.
“[Some] of the [capital] investments, as it relates to COVID-19, we’ve invested in what are called needlepoint bipolar ionization units, which clean the air and eliminate COVID risk in the air, or substantially reduces the risk. And we’ve installed touchless water fountains. We’ve changed out our handicap accessible doors – the push buttons – to motion detectors where you just wave your hand and that opens the door. And then through about 12 different entry points we have touchless, self-monitoring thermometers so residents and associates can go out, they can stand about a foot away from the device that’s mounted on the wall, and that quickly gives them a reading. And if it’s outside of normal limits – it’s 99.9 and above – the device actually alarms and flashes red. Thankfully, we haven’t had that happen yet.”
GWBJ: How are you able to keep your residents active and engaged?
“Each phase has been different. But where we are right now, we do a lot of what we call ‘physically distanced.’ So, we got rid of this socially distanced nomenclature, and switched to physically distanced. We do a lot of things that we were doing before; we just do it outside or 6 feet apart. Walking groups have been a big hit. We spent a lot of money on outdoor meeting spaces – temporary tents, some permanent structures, pockets of chairs and umbrellas outside – so that residents and associates have a space that’s conducive to having conversations, meetings and dining outside.”
Special Focus: Retirement