The COVID pandemic initially hit hardest at elder-care facilities across the nation, with family members unable to visit as children waved to their grandparents through windows. With vaccinations now well underway and all adult Georgians eligible to receive the shots, restrictions have begun to relax.
At The William Breman Jewish Home, family members have been meeting in person since March, and group activities have begun to resume. Although there are still restrictions in place, progress is underway. “It’s a process of returning to ‘normal,’ but we are not quite there yet,” Harley Tabak, president and CEO of Jewish HomeLife, told the AJT.
This process comes as JHL begins to celebrate its 70th anniversary, a yearlong celebration that will culminate with a gala in November highlighting the organization’s leaders and community involvement.
Family members have been able to visit the Jewish Home, JHL’s nursing home, since March. But recently new guidelines have allowed more access to residents. These changes are allowing JHL to expand visitation. “Now we are trying to change what ‘inside’ means in terms of visitation,” Tabak said. He expressed excitement over the expanded access.
“Family members are able to have more days during the week that they can come in and visit their loved ones. They are not able yet to go into the residents’ rooms, and we are working on that, but the number of weekday visits (allowed) has increased. Residents have gone from dining in their rooms and having in-room activities, to small groups, so now people can do activities and eat in small groups.”
The situation is slightly different in the assisted living community run by JHL, according to Shari Bayer, chief marketing and communication’s officer. “In our assisted living community, it is not federally regulated, so people have been able to go into the residences since March. If family members have been vaccinated, they can go to their apartments, hug, and life gets closer to normal.
“Here in the nursing home, they can have close contact if they have been vaccinated, but we are still keeping it in the common areas.” While vaccinated family members are not required to socially distance in the nursing home, those who haven’t received the vaccines are, although Tabak said it hasn’t been an issue, as of yet.
As the pandemic continues, JHL is still celebrating its 70th anniversary. The “70th Celebration Gala” in November will be the culmination of a year’s worth of events, as the community gathers to celebrate previous presidents of the organizations. In the meantime, there are several community-based programs helping to promote the anniversary. JHL is helping the community through their “Mitzvah Mondays.” It created a list of 70 mitzvahs while reaching out to organizations, camps and b’nai mitzvah candidates so they can register their mitzvah to be featured on JHL’s social channels, Bayer said.
Residents are also contributing to a time capsule, which will be buried, as well as a decorative time capsule that will be placed in the home’s history hall. In honor of the anniversary, commemorative bricks are for sale that can be personalized and will be placed outside in the brick garden on the Breman Home’s property. All of these efforts are meant to engage and recognize those who have supported JHL on its long journey, Bayer said. “We’d like to thank the community for their support, not only during the pandemic, but for the past 70 years. We are honored to be the place that generations of Atlantans have come to rely on for high quality care for those we most cherish.”