When Illinois went on lockdown in March, no one knew what to expect. Many assumed it was an overreaction—a precautionary measure. This was only going to last a few weeks, right? Little did we know that our patience, resilience, and compassion would all be tested. Three months later, we’ve all endured hardships, but we’ve grown as humans. I’ve watched the CMSS community come together in ways never seen before, and while I know there is still a long journey ahead of us, we’ll work with one another to move through it. As I continue to reflect on the last three months, here are my biggest takeaways:

CMSS leadership and front-line staff shined

It’s hard for me to express the gratitude I feel for the CMSS staff who have worked tirelessly over the last three months. When it became time to stop allowing visitors into our communities and begin testing frequently for COVID-19 symptoms, our team was up for the challenge. Long days, less sleep and remarkable discipline became the new normal as we prioritized the safety of our residents. It’s led to some quick learning on the fly. We have daily calls with the leadership of all of our communities where we check how everyone is doing and the status of our PPE supply.

The recent article about CMSS’ Wesley Place residents being tested for COVID-19 and the results coming back 100% negative warmed my heart. It made me so happy to see Jay Evans, Vice President of Operations at CMSS, to go room-to-room telling everyone they had tested negative. Staff and residents cheered, cried in relief, and some even danced.

Our staff has made enormous sacrifices over the last three months, but they proved themselves as heroes.

Residents found inner strength

I have the utmost respect and admiration for CMSS residents. COVID19 continues to be a difficult ordeal and many residents have not seen family members in some time. The impact of COVID-19 on the lifestyles of our residents experiencing memory loss has been especially difficult.

However, thanks to the hard work of our staff, our communities were able to set up iPads as a way for residents to communicate with family members. We’ve all adjusted to frequent virtual communications, but for the older adults, these opportunities to speak with friends or family are particularly meaningful. Wesley Place residents have also been able to step out on the first floor patio to see their loved ones from a distance.

The past three months taught me just how resilient CMSS residents are. It’s not easy for them to change their way of living, but inner strength and perseverance is a trait they all share.

The community uplifted residents and staff

Words can’t describe how important CMSS’ surrounding community has been in keeping residents and staff safe, entertained, and with full stomachs. Here are a few of the many examples of why I’m so proud of our community:

  • We were able to raise $15,000, with another $5,000 matched from the Board of Directors for #GivingTuesday in May. All of that money went to buying PPE. CMSS communities also received donated masks and other PPE from community members.
  • Our friend Coco rented a 30-foot cherry picker and sang songs outside of residents’ 3rd and 4th floor windows.
  • Frontline Foods coordinated with groups like White Oak Gourmet Home Meal Delivery and Doughnut Vault to drop off meals for residents and staff. Family members have also been supportive by giving us meals to share among our community.

There are countless other examples of our CMSS community helping us create more good days for the older adults we care about. We thank them, our residents and our staff for making the last three months an opportunity to be together—even though we were apart.