It has been quite a year: COVID made Elise’s job uniquely difficult. Her first challenge was building a cohesive board.
Elise queried, “How, as a new chair, would I be able to connect with my board members? How could I do one-on-one coffees, get to know them, learn about them and the skills they could bring to the board and CSP, all via Zoom?”
How, too, she worried, would the board members connect with each other? Zoom worked well enough and attendance was good, but, she says, “The pre-meeting interactions, chatting face to face, and sharing a meal together were missing. A few months ago, we started to open the Zoom half an hour early so people could visit with each other if they wanted… pretend as though we were back in time! Sometimes we’ll have a half a dozen members on for maybe 20 minutes, telling stories, joking, building the camaraderie back.”
“The challenges to the board of a senior care facility are particularly weighty during a pandemic,” Elise says. “First priority was keeping staff and residents safe. It took inordinate amounts of energy, time, and money. We are fortunate that CEO Kimberly Fuson was there. Early on she saw what was happening and started stockpiling PPE, juggling the budget, and finding money from other agencies to help us offset the costs. In addition, the regulations for health care and nursing homes are strict; the amounts and kinds of testing we had to do cost money! There must be people to actually do the testing and the cleaning. Staff are absent for COVID-related issues themselves, or for their families. The overtime and the temporary employees who must come in are expensive.” All of those things are part of regulations that, Elise says, can be vague and are constantly changing.
Added to that was CSP’s commitment to, as Elise put it, “keeping our mission, tone, and heart.” Elise is clearly proud – but not surprised – that our CSP community stepped up. “People took care of each other and were sensitive… aware of people’s physical and mental well-being and health status. We did not forget to love, honor and respect each other.”