Grace in the time of COVID-19: LSC teammates serve with compassion in a difficult time

A year ago, it would have been almost unimaginable to think that in the spring of 2020, a powerful virus
would bring sweeping changes to life as we know it. COVID-19 made a lot of unthinkable things our new
reality. Through it all, LSC has managed to adjust and continue walking together with those we serve –
although now we often do our walking together wearing masks, and a bit farther apart.

Because we have provided senior services for many years, LSC has a good understanding of how to take
precautions to protect residents from disease outbreaks. After all, the flu can be deadly to frail seniors
and is something nursing homes must deal with almost every year. But 2020 was the first year that
every one of LSC’s senior care communities instated a quarantine, closing all campuses to visitors and
doing regular health checks of staff members. It wasn’t long before North Carolina mandated all nursing
homes in the state to quarantine.

As one can imagine, it has been incredibly difficult for residents to be unable to see their loved ones. That quarantine
has even affected the family of LSC President Ted Goins, whose parents live at Trinity Oaks.

It’s been difficult indeed, but LSC staff members have stepped up to keep residents engaged and
connected to their loved ones in creative and compassionate ways. Staff have arranged video chats on
computers and iPads and smartphones so that residents can speak to – and see — their families. LSC
communities began using Facebook as a way to communicate with families, as families began to send
Facebook messages to staff if they wanted to see a photo of their loved one or arrange a video chat.

Birthday parties continued, with families celebrating on one side of the window and residents on the
other. Activities departments kicked into high gear to provide distractions for residents, like window
painting projects. Flash mobs (properly socially-distanced) were a welcome distraction. Nerf gun wars
broke out. With large dining rooms closed, dining services teammates found innovative ways to get food
to residents, including decorated “food trucks” serving tacos or ice cream. Chaplains continued to
provide consolation and spiritual sustenance.

In other words, staff did all they could to keep isolation and boredom at bay.

Early on in the quarantine, Trinity Oaks had its residents hold up signs with personal messages for their
loved ones, and the photos were a smash on Facebook. The sign of 101-year-old Gaynell Leonard
assured everyone that she was fine, but that she was missing her Cheerwine. That post went viral, and
family members, Internet angels, and local folks – including a representative from the Cheerwine
company itself –granted her wish, dropping off six-packs and cases of her favorite soft drink. (Fun fact:
Cheerwine was founded in Salisbury in 1917. Gaynell was born in Salisbury in 1918!)

The news media took notice of the good things that were happening in LSC communities during the
quarantine, and TV stations and newspapers around the state covered the goings-on at many of our
locations, including Trinity Oaks, Trinity Elms, Trinity Village, Trinity Grove, and Trinity Place. Some
birthday photos from Trinity Grove even made it into a montage on the Today Show. There was so much
good press that it was hard to keep track of it all!

Signs of encouragement and support began to pop up outside of the communities, expressing such
sentiments as, “Heroes Work Here.” And no doubt, they do.

People came forward to help LSC in ways large and small. People sent cards and snacks to residents.
Churches, groups, and individuals sewed masks and donated masks as well. Starbucks and Jersey Mike’s
donated coffee and subs to Trinity Oaks staff. The Catholic Parish Outreach shared food items with some
of LSC’s refugee clients. Family members brought pizza and meals and pantry items for staff to show

On the child and family side, staff continued to serve clients as best they could over the phone. Group
home staff continued to keep their clients happy even as social distancing measures were put into place.

Even when facilities do everything right, infections can happen. But what seems clear is that even in these frightening and uncertain times, LSC teammates will continue to serve with grace and good humor, and that we will get through this challenge together.