What has the Pandemic taught us at Seton Center?
Here at Elizabeth Seton Center, when we had to close during the “red phase” of COVID-19, we learned the importance of the sound of laughter, the encouragement that a smile can give, the feeling of a hug, and the magnitude of having a connection with other people. While a few of the administrative staff continued to work, the sound of an empty building became toxic.
Once we were in the “yellow phase,” we rediscovered how much Seton Center has been blessed with caring and dedicated staff members. They entered the building sanitizing, marking 6 feet of distance, and rearranging rooms. And they spent hours on “Google Meet” planning and developing new safety precautions and schedules. As new regulations came from the CDC, the Office of Child Development & Early Learning, the Department of Aging, and the Office of Long-Term Living, we discovered that by working together we could be flexible and meet any challenge that came our way. This period was not easy and at times became frustrating, but there was always someone who would have words of encouragement that let us know, “We can do this. We can make this happen for the health and safety of our clients.”
A major lesson that we learned was that the public viewed our services as more than “royal babysitting.” In order for most people to get back to work, they needed care for children and loved ones who cannot be left alone. We became a valued service that is needed for the economy to function properly.
Finally, the day came when things turned “green.” It was scary as we took temperatures, increased sanitation procedures, and wondered how we would get very young children to wear a mask. We might have doubted the adaptability of children, but we were soon reminded of it. The children resumed their daily routine with masks on. It didn’t seem to bother them or make a difference; they were simply happy to be with their friends and teachers again. As the Adult Day Services clients returned, they were separated six feet apart and given individual activity baskets that they could use during the day as our staff assisted and engaged them. And, finally, the day came when the seniors were welcomed back into the building after months of grab-and-go meals. Once again, life was restored to our Center.
COVID-19 helped us realize that as human beings we need one another, no matter what age. It strengthened our belief that those whom we serve are valued people. And it taught us that only with the help of others can we conquer enormous tasks.