Last Updated on October 8, 2021
THE RECORD OF THE CHARLESTOWN RESIDENTS’ COUNCIL
December 1, 2020
Residents’ Council Website: ccicharlestown.org
President Walt Howe called the regular meeting of the Residents’ Council [the Council] to order at 7:01 PM on December 1, 2020. Nathan Blumberg, Associate Executive Director, attended for the Administration. Don Burgard attended as a Mission Moment honoree. The November 6, 2020 minutes were approved as distributed. The Council observed a moment of silence for those who have passed away.
Walt called on the following officers and committee chairs for reports; the text of those reports appears following the formal minutes:
- Ron DeAbreu, Treasurer
- Jean Eichenlaub, Co-Chair of the Benevolent Care Committee
- Dick Crebs, Co-Chair of the Communications Committee
- Anna Marie Ciarrocchi, Chair of the Conservation Committee
- Bob Caulfield, Co-Chair of the Dining Committee
- Gordon Piche, Chair of the Finance Committee
- Hope Tillman for Mike Rose, Chair of the Grounds Committee
- Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker, Chair of the Health Services Committee
- Betty Elder, Chair of the Housekeeping Committee
- Pat Payne, Chair of the Legislative/Political Committee
- Hope Tillman for Jackie Graham, Chair of the Maintenance & Engineering Committee
- Ron Fayer, Co-Chair of the Resident Life Committee
- Hope Tillman for Ed Wallace, Chair of the Safety & Security Committee
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: None
NEW BUSINESS: None
Nathan Blumberg then presented “Words from Management” which appear below for those residents interested in reading the full text of the message.
President Howe adjourned the formal meeting at 7:51 PM.
Hope Tillman, Residents’ Council Secretary
ANNOUNCEMENTS/PRESIDENT’S REPORT (Walt Howe):
The first Mission Moment is for Don Burgard. Jan Issac knows firsthand what value there is in sharing one’s gifts. She writes: “My Hero – Long ago in a faraway land called Herbert’s Run, a hero across from the place called ping pong, a recent convert to the Charlestown lifestyle, a semi-retired pastor joined the group to beat us all in good spirit and ping pong. As I was leaving for the night, I had a gulp of water listening to the banter and expecting to laugh at a good joke. I must have tried to do both at the same time, and I ended in a choke. I could not speak or breathe or swallow. While Dominique called 911, I proceeded to turn blue and could not even gasp. Pastor Don Burgard came with a Heimlich maneuver and brought up the few drops of water and revived me… henceforth I refer to him as a Lifesaver or Herr Heimlich.”
The second recognizes the efforts of a number of volunteers who wanted to be assured that their votes would be counted for the recent election. Volunteers rallied to their aid, which amounted to an Eight Day Mission Moment.
Since Charlestown could not have its usual precinct in the Conference Center, the Baltimore County Board of Elections and Charlestown Administration approved a plan to safely and securely transfer residents’ mail-in ballots to nearby drop boxes. “LWV Nonpartisan Ballot Collection” signs were posted in the Cross Creek and Charlestown Square lobbies from October 26 through November 2. Those signs covered the efforts of many people to help Charlestown residents vote.
League of Women Voters volunteers were paired with nonpartisan observers at tables in those lobbies for one hour each morning and afternoon. At the end of each hour, volunteer drivers came to take the LWV volunteers and a total of 92 collected ballots to a dropbox. The Legislative & Political Committee secured the drivers.
Staff also assisted in this successful effort: Community Resources, Housekeeping, 972 staff, and Lobby Desk personnel. There were many appreciative comments from residents, both those who brought their ballots and others who handled their ballots by mail or at voting centers/drop boxes. Charlestown residents found voting to be easy and convenient.
Mission Moment submissions may be sent to Pat Kasuda, Chair.
We are pleased to congratulate Pat Kasuda on her recent appointment to the Charlestown Board of Directors as a resident director. We also thank outgoing resident director Charles Denton for his years of service on the Charlestown Board of Directors.
It is December already, and we are nearing the end of a very strange year. Thanksgiving is behind us, and we are looking ahead to Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Along the way, we have learned to meet and socialize and make merry over Zoom.
Just two Committees are meeting in the month of December. We will be doing less traveling to meet with family and friends for the holidays this year, but it is still a busy time, and communicating with family and friends is more important than ever. Tis the season to be jolly – with social distancing!
Looking ahead, January’s Council meeting would be very brief and very dull if most committees report “Our Committee did not meet in December.” Instead, we are going to suggest our Committees report what they have achieved and learned this year and what they foresee doing in the next six months. We want to encourage more residents to get involved, show them there is work to be done, and give a little better perspective on what we are all about during this strange time.
Happy holidays to everyone!
VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT (Pat Rudolph): None
SECRETARY’S REPORT (Hope Tillman, Secretary, and Mimi O’Donnell, Assistant Secretary): None
TREASURER’S REPORT (Ron DeAbreu):
The Council’s account balance at the end of October was $5,891.01. In November, the Council received $226.00 in Residents’ Association dues. Expenditures for the month totaled $636.51. Thus, the Council’s account balance at the end of November was $5,480.50.
BENEVOLENT CARE (Jean Eichenlaub and Eugenia High, Co-Chairs):
We did not meet in November. The next meeting is scheduled for January 27 at 2:00 PM.
COMMUNICATIONS (Dick Crebs and David Elder, Co-Chairs):
A Virtual Communications Committee meeting was held on November 23, 2020, with 23 members attending. Staff was represented by Mary Evans from Community Resources and Jeff Hofstetter, VP of Enterprise Applications at Erickson Living. October minutes were approved by acclamation.
Jeff Hofstetter was introduced. He gave an overview of the current configuration and resident data flow here at Charlestown. He outlined many of the data applications in use here and introduced us to the myUnity Integration employed by Erickson to integrate the data here.
Wayne Smith volunteered to head a resident data task force to investigate. David Elder, Hope Tillman, and Art Timmons volunteered to work with Wayne Smith on the Task Force.
Wi-Fi Issues were discussed with the note that the Charlestown Board of Directors has approved a budget item for Residents’ Wi-Fi System Replacement, scheduled for the first quarter of 2021. Current guidance to residents experiencing Wi-Fi issues is to contact IT. They will advise residents but will not install individual access points at this time. The proposed Wi-Fi upgrade will likely include individual access points in each apartment.
Charlie Eichenlaub submitted the Evergreen topics, and they were reviewed.
The Website Committee addressed changes to the website to bring it up to date, especially under Resident Resources and Continuing Care. Mary Evans will provide a new MyErickson flyer, new room scheduling guidelines for the Clubs page, and a list of groups currently meeting in person with an understanding that these are not walk-in meetings. The monthly calendar is not being published right now, and there are no special events, day trips, or overnight tours.
The procedure to put a notice on Channel 972 is to send it to Community Resources (Mary Evans’ office). They will take care of it for every communications venue, including bulletin boards, 972, MyErickson, and Sunburst. They prefer portrait orientation for bulletin boards and landscape orientation for Channel 972/MyErickson.
The Website Committee brainstormed tech topics to add to the website that would be of interest to residents.
Campus television update was discussed, with current emphasis being placed on the scheduled resident Wi-Fi updates.
New topics for January will include additional coordination with the Resident Life Committee to encourage residents to participate in electronic communications, such as Zoom. Cooperation in the area of providing additional resident training will be explored.
The next Communications Committee meeting will be held January 25 at 2:00 PM following the Website Subcommittee meeting at 1:00 PM.
CONSERVATION (Anna Marie Ciarrocchi, Chair):
Due to the backlog created by the Covid19 virus, the recycling statistics were not available. Housekeeping hopes to provide the statistics next month. The committee hopes to have poster boards on display soon to show the items that can be recycled and those that cannot.
The following tips for a greener home from the Sierra Club were discussed:
- Turn your computer and monitor off at the end of the day to save electricity.
- Read news online.
- Buy a new houseplant; they make the best natural air purifiers.
- Run clothes washer and dishwasher with full loads/ at night.
- Keep your freezer full – it runs more efficiently than an empty one.
- Stop using toxin-loaded dryer sheets. A safer alternative is wool dryer balls or cotton balls.
The next Conservation Committee meeting will be held on January 19, 2021, at 2 PM.
DINING SERVICES (Bob Caulfield and Ronald MacNab, Co-Chairs):
The monthly meeting was held on November 16, at 2:00 PM in the Auditorium.
Ken Zahn, Director of Dining Services, was in attendance.
Ken discussed plans for Thanksgiving dinner. Dining, delivery, and carryout are planned for 11 AM to 1:30 PM. Restaurants are operating at 50% capacity. Dining is restricted to residents only.
Bob Caulfield gave a summary of Dining Services efforts over the past eight months. Beginning in March, their world rapidly changed on short notice. They had to produce and deliver 2,000 cold meals a day. As processes improved, they were able to open up limited seated dining and carryout. The effort was difficult and often resulted in errors, complaints, and long phone waits. However, as staff got used to the new processes, performance has improved and will continue to improve.
The COVID-19 epidemic is affecting staffing. There are currently thirty dining staff members out because of COVID-19. The Atrium restaurant is temporarily closed effective Wednesday, November 18. Staff from the Atrium are being used to fill vacancies in other restaurants.
Residents were asked to volunteer to take phone orders and reservations to help fill staffing shortages.
Ken asked that residents be patient. He is aware that there are minor but important problems occurring with resident orders. They are doing their best, but these are unusual times. Situations may require attending to essential services at the cost of important services.
Ken reported that restaurants are busier earlier in the week. Residents are encouraged to book later in the week to balance demand.
The November Dining Services Town Hall meeting on TV 972 took place on Friday, November 20, rather than the day after Thanksgiving.
When you pick up your carryout orders, please check your bags for accuracy before you take them home.
The next Dining Services meeting will be held on January 18, 2021, probably by Zoom.
FINANCE (Gordon Piche, Chair):
The Finance Committee met on November 24 with Finance Director Pam Stiner, Assistant Finance Director Eric Schwab, Executive Director Clara Parker, and 11 committee members.
The Occupancy Data and Financial Package reports for October were presented by Eric Schwab:
Independent Living 94.8%
Assisted Living 99.2%
Memory Care 100.0%
Skilled Nursing 75.3%
Independent occupancy decreased 0.8 percent in October. The occupancy levels in Skilled Nursing continue to be affected by the need to maintain the COVID unit and the discontinuation of double-occupancy rooms. Settlements of new residents continued to pick up in November in Independent Living.
October Operating Revenue of $6,987,000 was $586,000 below budget due to continued lower occupancy and fewer revenue-generating ancillary services being offered because of COVID. Operating expenses were $206,000 above budget, resulting in an operating income of $71,000, which is $792,000 below budget.
Nonoperating income for October was $1,271,000 below budget, largely due to investment performance. There were significant changes in cash flows, which increased from negative $141,000 to positive $1,626,000. The balance sheet continues to be good. Ms. Stiner continues working closely with the Board of Directors Investment Committee during the pandemic.
Regarding Restricted Funds: 15 residents received benevolent care assistance.
The Scholars’ Fund current balance is over $1.2 million.
The Staff Appreciation Fund increased by $112,336 this month to $124,197 for the year.
The committee will meet next on December 29 at 9:00 AM via Zoom.
GROUNDS (Mike Rose, Chair):
The Grounds Committee met via Zoom on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, with Mike Rose presiding with eleven residents and Ryan Truitt and Kiril Apostolov representing staff.
Ryan stated that the entrance to St. Charles would be replanted with plants similar to those in the original design, such as liriope and heuchera.
Kiril is still researching the issue of mold at Building 1.
There are some dead trees along the Nature Trail that will be removed.
A decision on the Nature Trail bridge will be made at the corporate level.
The vines mentioned previously could not be located and may be in the restricted area.
Mike will contact the residents of EW 202 and 212 to see if they are satisfied with the work that Grounds did for them.
It was decided that a subcommittee would be formed to replace the TWI Group and to survey the campus and make suggestions to improve it.
The St. Charles loading dock will be sealed in the Spring.
Additional matting will be placed outside of Brookside to encourage the growth of new grass.
The Grounds Department was notified that the drain at Brookside frequently overflows and causes flooding.
Jennifer Dempsey commented on the wonderful job of leaf removal by Brightwood.
Grounds has contacted the aerator installation company about the aerator clogging issue.
Kiril announced that the outside water would soon be turned off for the winter.
There will be no December meeting. The next meeting (by Zoom) will be on January 26, 2021 at 10:00 AM.
HEALTH SERVICES (Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker, Chair):
Our committee met via ZOOM on November 10 at 11 AM with six guests attending.
Medical Center Administrator Dean Crawford reported over 20,000 residents across all Erickson Living Communities received their seasonal flu vaccine. Work on leasing space to a new Ophthalmologist and leasing session to a new Pain Specialist is ongoing. Since COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Maryland, Independent Living residents are encouraged to be more vigilant in preventing its spread in the Community.
The Charlestown Fall Prevention Working Group’s efforts resulted in recorded videos by Charlestown Staff and airing on TV Channel 972: the Balance and Fitness Center programs by Teresa Reymann and Ambulation Safety and Apartment Safety by the Rehab Center. The November Sunburst included the article titled “Fall Prevention-Key to Independence.”
Pat Kasuda continues working with Senators to determine what will be happening with this year’s Legislature regarding the Maryland State Ombudsman Program and Memory Care Standards. Dr. Mickey Pelczar reported flu activity remains very low nationwide, with a mild increase in those seeking attention for flu-like illness.
The Medication Collection Event on November 9 resulted in filling over two very large bins.
New Resident Services Coordinators Robin Campbell and Andrea Lanasa are available at their offices, by the Terrace, and at the St. Charles, respectively. Please encourage those residents experiencing problems to contact their Resident Coordinators for help.
Resident Services has resources available to support residents challenged by hearing and low vision. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings held at the Jeremiah Room in the Pastoral Office, and the Kidney Support Group have resumed their programs.
Zoom links for all committee meetings are posted on the MyErickson under Resident Resources.
There will be no meeting in December. The next meeting is scheduled for January 12 at 11 AM, tentatively via Zoom.
HOUSEKEEPING (Betty Elder, Chair):
The Housekeeping Committee met on November 18, 2020, via Zoom, with thirteen people in attendance. The Housekeeping Committee welcomed Ms. Michelle Fenn, Charlestown Housekeeping Manager.
Due to safety concerns, residents are discouraged from using dumpsters. There are trash cans outside of the buildings. Unfortunately, some residents are placing large trash bags next to the trash cans on the weekends or late at night, making entrance ways a mess (eyesores) and encouraging rodents. No additional trash cans will be placed outside of the buildings to collect residential wastes between trash collection dates.
The cleaning of hallways and walls is on a schedule; however, the Housekeeping Department is short-staffed. Many workers are staying hours beyond their regular times in order to complete cleaning assignments. In addition, the cleaning of windows in common areas such as corridors, lobbies, walkways, and bridges will take place starting in the early spring of 2021, provided the staff is not needed to sanitize for Covid-19 again intensely.
The ongoing issue about trash or recycling placed in hallways earlier than they should be by days or hours is still a major concern on some floors; let Mr. Kiril Apostolov (Kiril.Apostolov@erickson.com) know. A letter will be sent to those in violation.
Maintenance items were shared with the Maintenance and Engineering Committee chairperson, Mr. Apostolov, and Mr. Shaw. The housekeeping concerns, such as vacuuming or cleaning of hallways, cleaning of stairwells, and dusting or cleaning of common areas, have been shared with Ms. Fenn. If any resident notices items which need immediate or emergency cleaning, they should report it themselves and use the My Erickson portal (CCIWorkOrders@erickson.com). Ms. Fenn mentioned that there are many contractors working to renovate apartments. It is their job to clean-up after themselves.
Kudos to the hard work of the Charlestown Housekeeping Staff. They are still sanitizing high touch areas and doing the daily cleaning/restocking of restrooms.
Members of the Housekeeping Committee were asked to share something about themselves for the February Sunburst article. Ms. Fenn shared the names and locations of the Housekeeping Utility Worker Building Staff.
Our next meeting is on Friday, January 15, 2021, at 2:00 PM via Zoom.
LEGISLATIVE/POLITICAL (Pat Payne, Chair):
The committee met on Wednesday, November 11, 2020, on Zoom. There were 21 people in attendance. Warren Deschenaux, former Director of Fiscal Services for the Maryland Legislature, gave a presentation on Maryland’s budgeting process and the likely impact of the pandemic on state revenues. The fiscal impact of COVID is not likely to be as severe as first thought. Sales taxes took a hit, but income taxes were not hurt as much as expected because unemployment has been concentrated among lower-wage workers. Before the pandemic, the state budget grew annually at a rate of 4.5%, whereas revenues grew at only 3%. This structural deficit is likely to be worsened due to the pandemic. Mr. Deschenaux also called attention to the referendum just passed on November 3 that allows the Legislature to increase spending but requiring an equal decrease to offset any increases. Pat Payne gave a report on the League of Women Voters initiative to assist Charlestown residents to get their mail-in ballots to the closest mail-in ballot drop box during the November 3 presidential election. Volunteers collected and delivered 92 ballots from October 26 to November 2.
An invitation has been issued to the District 12 Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to attend the Committee’s December 2020 meeting. On Thursday, December 10 at 7:00 PM, members of Maryland’s District 12 Legislative Delegation (State Senator Clarence Lam, Delegate Eric Ebersole, Delegate Jessica Feldmark, and Delegate Terri Hill) will be meeting with us. Their topic is:
Major issues facing the 2021 Session of the Maryland General Assembly: Implications for residents of Charlestown. It will be held on Zoom with a live stream available on YouTube.
Our next committee meeting is on Wednesday, December 9, 2021, at 10:00 AM via Zoom.
MAINTENANCE & ENGINEERING (Jackie Graham, Chair):
The Maintenance and Engineering Committee did not meet during the month of November. The next meeting will be held on January 26, 2021, at 2:00 PM.
RESIDENT LIFE (Ron Fayer and Carolyn Thompson, Co-Chairs):
The Resident Life Committee met on November 18 via Zoom. Issues regarding the widespread use of computers in our society and the impact on residents at Charlestown were discussed with the objective of how best to help those residents who need a simple item fixed and those who lack computer literacy and thereby miss out on everyday events at Charlestown. Mary Evans’ office receives up to 5 telephone calls daily for computer help, often triggered by the need to use My Erickson but other calls are wide-ranging. Olivia Lippy explained that she is often unable to help with troubleshooting on the phone when, for example, the resident doesn’t understand simple computer operations.
With 789 residents over 85 years of age in independent living at Charlestown and 1503 over 75 years of age, many residents lack basic computer skills and miss out on important announcements, can’t contact friends and relatives, and miss local activities, potentially leading to isolation with emotional or mental health consequences.
Discussion followed, including:
Barriers to computer use – Resident has no computer; never used a computer; no experience; never been taught; fear of messing up, so they don’t try; forget how to proceed, even when taught; repeated forgetfulness; simply not interested; can’t get the computer to work and don’t know who to ask for help; always had someone to do it for them. Many people do help other residents with computer-related problems, but there is no overall organization as such except for the IT department, which is expensive for some.
Historic support by volunteers-In the past, there was reliance on a small group of volunteers such as Howie Nixon and associates who, for five years, made over 2500 house calls, but this ended in burnout with no clearly identified individual or group to continue after them.
Historic attempts to teach computer literacy at Charlestown- Art Chenoweth cited three examples of past classes sponsored by ELLIC that were not only difficult to teach but failed for lack of follow-through on the part of the residents. Ann MacKay expressed similar experiences with some Apple users, echoing comments of Ray Graves from the computer lab who was interviewed before this meeting.
Scope of need-Pat Kasuda suggested that the scope of need was far too great for a local undertaking and that the focus might best be narrowed to a single important topic such as My Erickson. This was done at another Erickson facility for newly arriving residents. As demographics change with time more newcomers will arrive with basic computer skills.
Summary of suggested remedies- Provide some specific ELLIC classes on topics such as My Erickson; help residents receive guidance by joining a computer club; provide one-on-one help at home from volunteers or a third- party contractor; provide names of volunteers to call for basic short-term help; prepare written handouts of how-to guidelines; develop Instructional videos to play on channel 972; attend Zoom meetings by telephone with information posted in Sunburst, on 972, and bulletin boards.
Action Item: Build a focus team(s) to address the computer issues before the next meeting of the committee.
After the minutes were sent out, Ron Fayer received a call from Dick Crebs requesting permission to send out the Resident Life Committee minutes to the members of the Communications Committee. As a result, the two committees will discuss the possibility of a joint meeting in January.
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at 2:00 PM via Zoom.
SAFETY & SECURITY (Ed Wallace, Chair):
The Safety & Security Committee meeting on November 10 1:00 PM using Zoom, with nine residents and Council members present.
A sub-committee on Fall Prevention has been created between the Safety & Security and the Health committees. Bill Miller and Ed Wallace will be representing the Safety & Security Committee.
Ed Wallace has had an article published in the Sunburst on Cyber Security for Seniors. Ed Wallace has submitted a second article on Cyber Security for Seniors to the Sunburst for the December edition.
Problems with leaving EMVs in hallways, storage areas, and near exit doors were discussed. Any instances of this are against the Charlestown rules and constitute a fire hazard. Anyone that observes this should call security.
The next meeting of the Safety & Security Committee will be held on Tuesday, January 12 at 1 PM via Zoom.
WORDS FROM MANAGEMENT (Nathan Blumberg):
Nathan Blumberg began his remarks hoping that we all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
COVID-19 remains the focus right now. Ten months since this all started, when Nathan was named the COVID-19 Incident Commander for Charlestown, we are still in it. We have learned a lot, and we are doing a lot together. Nathan sees every contact trace that goes out. Our employees are committed, as are the residents. They are making sure they do the right things.
Excellent news: residents raised $290,000 this year for the Staff Appreciation Fund. 72% of our residents participated. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Checks will be distributed to employees via direct deposit. We love the giving out of the checks, but this year, because of COVID, we can’t be handing pieces of paper – hopefully next year.
Thanksgiving dinner: This Thanksgiving 97% more residents took advantage of having Thanksgiving dinner at Charlestown than in prior years. A shout out to the Dining Team staff for making this possible.
Wear your mask: We continue to remind you: wear your mask and continue to social distance. He appreciates seeing residents remind fellow residents.
Holiday cheer: General Services is putting up holiday decorations around campus, wreaths, trees, lots of lights, and even the toy soldiers.
Weather warning: As cold weather sets in, please be careful. Walk carefully when icy.
As this is the last Council monthly meeting of 2020, Nathan Blumberg wished everyone a Happy New Year on behalf of the administration and all 1250 employees. May 2021 bring us a very different outlook than what we have dealt with in 2020. We will welcome 2021 with a new level of gratitude.