Last Updated on October 8, 2021
THE RECORD OF THE CHARLESTOWN RESIDENTS’ COUNCIL
January 5, 2021
Residents’ Council Website: ccicharlestown.org
President Walt Howe called the regular meeting of the Residents’ Council to order at 7:02 PM on January 5, 2021. The December 1, 2020 minutes were approved as distributed. Visitors included Mission Moments’ Chair Phyllis Lansing and honorees Bernice DeBels and Sherry Stewart. Nathan Blumberg, Associate Executive Director, attended for the Administration. The Council observed a moment of silence for those who have passed away. All members of the Residents’ Council attended.
Walt began the meeting with a moment of silence for those who had passed away since the last meeting.
Walt called on the following officers and committee chairs for reports; the text of those reports appears following the formal minutes:
- Pat Rudolph, Vice President
- Hope Tillman, Secretary
- Ron DeAbreu, Treasurer
- Jean Eichenlaub, Co-Chair of the Benevolent Care Committee
- David Elder, 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
- 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
- Jackie Graham, Chair of the Maintenance & Engineering Committee
- Ron Fayer, Co-Chair of the Resident Life Committee
- Ed Wallace, Chair of the Safety & Security Committee
- Pat Payne, Chair of the Nominating & Elections Committee
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: None
NEW BUSINESS: None
Nathan Bloomberg 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 7:58 PM.
Hope Tillman, Residents’ Council Secretary
Mimi O’Donnell, Residents’ Council Assistant Secretary
ANNOUNCEMENTS/PRESIDENT’S REPORT (Walt Howe):
Bernice DeBels was nominated by Vicki Barr, a former Mission Moment honoree. She recognizes Bernice De Bels for her Christian values and demonstration of living the Erickson Way. Vicki writes, “Bernice helped me to be grateful for each day as I struggled with isolation and pain. She is a friend to everyone, and her kindness is found in all her activities. She was present, thoughtful, helpful, and generous with her time and talents. She did everything: shopping, cleaning my refrigerator, watering plants, collecting and redirecting mail, washing my clothes, sending me notes of support, and was a good listener during my three-month stay at Dorsey. I can’t thank her enough for all her caring efforts.”
Several residents recognize Sharon Stewart (Sherry) for her positive contribution to the well-being of the Charlestown community. Many in the Zoom Line Dancing sessions were having difficulty with the various dances. As soon as Charlestown opened the Cross Creek Craft Room, Sherry reserved space on Tuesday mornings so the group could again dance. She made sure all the proper COVID-19 guidelines were followed and acted as the instructor, refreshing everyone’s memory on how the dances were done. New residents saw the group practicing and asked to join. Soon the group grew too large for COVID guidelines, so Sherry reserved the room on Wednesday morning. Since the Zoom session dances were more complicated, she reserved the room for Saturday afternoon to allow Saturday Line Dance Coach sessions to resume as before COVID restrictions. Sherry’s actions support the Erickson Way by showing caring, friendliness, and enthusiasm.
Going forward, send your Mission Moment submissions to Phyl Lansing, Chair, who is taking over for Pat Kasuda.
I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and thank you all for the progress we have made through some difficult times in the past year. We have had to reinvent ourselves and our ways of working as the Residents’ Council. It has required creativity and hard work by Council members, resident committee members, and our very supportive Charlestown staff. We have had to learn to work face-to-face on computer screens by Zoom instead of in person. That is a real challenge for those who do not have good Wi-Fi connections or computer equipment or established computer skills or do not have comfort learning new skills. Unfortunately, it has limited some people from contributing who would otherwise have been very willing to pitch in and join our support for the community. I particularly want to thank everyone who was willing to give it a try, even if the technical problems proved to be insurmountable.
We have had some turnover in the Council this year, some for health reasons and some for the technical difficulty in working by Zoom and email. We currently have a vacancy to fill on the Council – call it an opportunity to step up and get involved now. I would love to hear from anyone who would like to join the Council now, perhaps someone who is already active in our Committees. Any person who fills the vacancy now will also be eligible to run for election this summer.
You will be hearing a lot more in a few minutes about the summer elections from Pat Payne, who is chairing our Nominating and Elections Committee this year. It is just getting started looking for candidates to run for election to the Council this summer to replace those whose terms are expiring.
As of yesterday (January 4, 2021), only 400 residents had completed the forms indicating residents wanted to get their names on the list for vaccinations. We will hear more about that later in this meeting from Nathan.
VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT (Pat Rudolph):
Residents are encouraged to attend meetings of the various Residents’ Council Committees via Zoom. These meetings provide an opportunity to keep in touch and get involved in many different aspects of the Charlestown Community. Although many committees did not meet in December, they will meet in January.
Because most meetings are held by Zoom, Pat opened her My Erickson account to show how to get into a committee meeting. Interested residents should log into My Erickson, Resident Resources, then Residents’ Council Information. The various committees are listed with the day, time, Zoom link, and conference call connection information. According to the Sunburst, the meeting conference call number and passcode are available on the bulletin boards.
SECRETARY’S REPORT (Hope Tillman, Secretary, and Mimi O’Donnell, Assistant Secretary):
The Council approved a contribution to the Benevolent Care Fund as an honorarium in memory of John Kasuda.
TREASURER’S REPORT (Ron DeAbreu):
The Council’s account balance at the end of November was $5,480.50. In December, the Council received $137.00 in Residents’ Association dues and a PNC Bank fee refund of $56.50. There were no expenditures this month. Thus, the Council’s account balance at the end of December was $5,674.00.
Discussion: Walt added that the Residents’ Council financial records are currently being audited. A member of the Council asked the number of residents who paid dues. While Ron did not have the financial records, he remembered the number to be around 800 households, approximately 70% response rate. Checks and cash dues continue to trickle in from residents.
BENEVOLENT CARE (Jean Eichenlaub and Eugenia High, Co-Chairs):
Although the committee didn’t have the chance to meet in person, we did do a few Zoom calls where we discussed strategies for the rollout of the new “Friends & Family campaign.” One committee member had the idea to encourage families to donate to BCF in lieu of Christmas gifts this year. Philanthropy did promote that through 972 (and a few families actually did it!). The committee was not able to actively promote BCF in the usual ways (by sitting at information tables outside dining rooms and participating in the Sales Expo’s), but we were able to serve in an advisory capacity during our monthly calls to discuss ways the Philanthropy team had to pivot their strategies from in-person to virtual events. I also continued to participate in Foundation Board meetings (virtually via WebEx).
Our next meeting will be on January 27, 2021, at 2:00 PM.
COMMUNICATIONS (Dick Crebs and David Elder, Co-Chairs):
During the third and fourth quarters of 2020, the Communications Committee helped with the submission of several articles to the Sunburst. These included: “The Move Out Process” by Charlie Eichenlaub; “Mask Etiquette” by David Elder & Dick Crebs; “2021 MD General Assembly” by Patricia Payne; “Searching CCICharlestown.org” by Hope Tillman.
Charlie Eichenlaub keeps us up-to-date on Evergreen topics.
The Website subcommittee is regularly maintaining & improving CCICharlestown.org.
Wi-Fi issues and handling of data in Erickson Living Residents’ databases are common agenda items at our meetings.
Looking ahead to the first and second quarters of 2021, here are some of our ongoing projects:
Wayne Smith’s task force on databases
Charlie Eichenlaub to continue to keep us up-to-date on Evergreen topics.
We will keep the Charlestown community in the know as the Wi-Fi improvements are brought online.
There is a joint effort by the Communications and the Resident Life committees to reach out to residents who are challenged by electronic communications to assist them with participating with online communications necessitated by their current circumstances.
A new concern has just appeared that due to the low response for the COVID-19 vaccine request form is an example of an action that needs to be taken in the communication process.
The January meeting of the Communications Committee will be held via Zoom on January 25 at 2:00 PM. It will be preceded by the Website Subcommittee at 1:00 PM.
CONSERVATION (Anna Marie Ciarrocchi, Chair):
The Conservation Committee did not meet in December. We will meet in January via Zoom on January 19, 2021.
The mantra of conservation folks is “Recycle, Conserve, Reuse.” There are so many ways that we unconsciously burden our lovely planet because we have not thought about the consequences of our actions. We are all familiar with the label “the throw-away culture.” Now we are discovering that there is greater difficulty getting rid of our trash.
Recently we have been highlighting some ways to conserve, reuse, and recycle that came from the Sierra Club. We are interested in highlighting residents who have found ways to do this. We will be soliciting examples from the community, so keep your eyes peeled for good examples to share.
We are also getting ready to put up display boards near dining rooms that will help residents to identify the types of items that are recyclable and those that are not. Currently, we are observing that many items that could be recycled are being thrown out on trash days. This time of plated meals has made for more confusion regarding recycling. We are looking forward to being able to go back to indoor dining and thus having less trash to dispose of.
Discussion: A Council member questioned why trash is picked up twice a week while recycling is gathered once, and the member mentioned his unit has a high volume of recyclables each week. Anna Maria responded that she would look into it but added that some residents have commented that odor might be a problem. Multiple recycling containers are available.
The next meeting will be held on January 19 at 2:00 PM by Zoom.
DINING SERVICES (Bob Caulfield and Ronald MacNab, Co-Chairs):
The Dining Service Committee did not meet in December, but co-chairs, Bob Caulfield and Ron MacNab did hold their monthly meeting with Ken Zahn on December 9 at 2:00 PM. The following comes from that meeting.
Charlestown, like the surrounding area, is seeing an increase in Covid-19 infections. Seventy-five staff are on quarantine; about 1/3 to 1/2 of those are from Dining Services. There is no news of any dining changes, but the state and county government could introduce new requirements at any time. Charlestown may make changes if the number of resident infections continues to increase.
With worsening news on Covid-19, carry-out orders have increased, and sit-in dining has decreased. The big exception to this was Thanksgiving Day, when they experienced a 97% increase over last year.
The temporary closing of the Atrium restaurant has been effective in helping to maintain staffing levels at the remaining locations. Resident volunteers have been a great help in taking phone orders. The residents we spoke with all enjoyed the experience. They liked being helpful and talking with fellow residents. They felt like part of the operation rather than just customers. One big benefit is they understood why the phone lines are frequently busy…they are on the phone taking orders. Usually, there are two extensions, one manned by a staff member and one by a volunteer.
We continue to receive complaints of residents not receiving the carry-out items they ordered. Ken suggests that everyone check their order before they leave the restaurant. By doing this, they are usually able to make corrections on the spot and become aware of the problem’s frequency.
The next Dining Services Committee will be held on January 18 at 2:00 PM. That will be a meeting where some can meet in person, and others meet by Zoom.
Discussion: Walt mentioned that Dining Services had conducted a test of the hybrid meeting model. This could be a step to the return to more normal meetings.
FINANCE (Gordon Piche, Chair):
The Finance Committee met on December 30 because the numbers change so frequently. Attendees included Assistant Finance Director Eric Schwab, Council President Walt Howe, Council Vice President Pat Rudolph, Council Secretary Hope Tillman, and eight committee members.
Eric Schwab presented the Occupancy Data and Financial Package reports for October:
Independent Living 94.4%
Assisted Living 95.3%
Memory Care 100.0%
Skilled Nursing 73.3%
Independent Occupancy decreased 0.4 percent in November. Independent Occupancy is expected to continue to decrease slightly for the next few months. 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 December in Independent Living.
November Operating Revenue of $6,805,000 was $942,000 below budget due to continued lower occupancy and fewer revenue-generating ancillary services being offered because of COVID. Operating expenses were $230,000 below budget. Operating Income was $245,000, which is $713,000 below budget.
Nonoperating income for November was $3,082,000. There were significant changes in cash flows, which increased from $2,288,000 to $7,581,000 at the end of the Period. The balance sheet continues to be good. There was a very significant gain of over $5 million for the investment income. Ms. Stiner continues working closely with the Board of Directors Investment Committee during the pandemic.
Regarding Restricted Funds:
- Fourteen residents received Benevolent Care Assistance.
- The Scholars Fund Balance is $1,278,230.00.
- The Staff Appreciation Fund increased this month by $161,052 to $291,060 for the year.
The committee will meet next on January 26 at 9 AM via Zoom.
Discussion: Walt mentioned that there probably would be an increase in operating funds with the opening of the new Wilton Overlook. A member asked why cash flow increased from $2,288,000 to $7,581,000. Gordon responded that he would get additional information from Eric to respond to this question.
GROUNDS (Mike Rose, Chair):
I can report that after looking over the list of many items, in my opinion, the Grounds Committee is achieving its goals. Thanks to the committee members and, especially, to the staff members: Kiril, Chris, and Ryan, who have been very responsive to all questions and very prompt in taking action in response to committee concerns. We did not meet in December. Our next meeting is on January 26 at 10:00 AM.
HEALTH SERVICES (Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker, Chair):
Our Committee did not meet in December.
We thank David Gearing, one of our Committee’s Staff Liaisons, for his years of service and wish him well in his new position as Associate Executive Director at Sienna Lakes in Naples, Florida, an Erickson Living Community. We will miss him. We welcome Victoria Shirley, the new Resident Services Coordinator for Brookside, Caton Ridge, and Chapel Court neighborhoods.
Two articles have been written for the Sunburst, titled “Seven New Year Health Resolutions to Prevent Falls in 2021”, as part of the subcommittee on Falls Prevention and the “Are You Okay?” dealing with mental health issues and how we as residents can help each other. We continue our joint efforts with the Resident Life and Safety & Security Committees to encourage resident participation in enhancing their life experience in Charlestown.
The anti-Covid19 vaccinations begun on December 23 will continue until all residents and staff are vaccinated, and Committee members are actively promoting resident participation. Also, The Low Vision Reading Brigade will be restarted in early 2021. An announcement and call for volunteers have been submitted for publication.
We congratulate Committee Member Pat Kasuda on her election to the Charlestown Board of Directors. She will continue her work with Maryland State Senators regarding the Maryland State Ombudsman Program and Memory Care Standards being discussed at the Legislature.
The next meeting is scheduled for January 12 at 11:00 AM via Zoom.
Discussion: A member of the council noted that there has been an increase in the number of Social Workers in each building and commended the Committee on their efforts in this regard.
HOUSEKEEPING (Betty Elder, Chair):
The Housekeeping Committee has been attempting to make inspections of the independent living communities of Charlestown since September 2020. All the meetings have been held via Zoom. Ms. Michele Fenn, Housekeeping Manager for CCI, reiterated that items dealing with cleaning and resupply of the common areas were part of the housekeeping department, while any items dealing with repairs, painting, or installations are part of the maintenance department. Due to the Covid-19 virus, Ms. Fenn reminded us to avoid large groups. Mr. Apostolov reminded folks that the emphasis is still on disinfecting the high-touch points. Any resident should report emergency cleaning, and the best method is to use the My Erickson portal using CCIWorkOrders@erickson.com.
It is hoped that the committee will continue to be able to continue its inspections in the future, realizing that the ability for the inspections is based upon being safely able to roam the community. In addition, the cleaning of common areas is hinged upon the availability of the housekeeping staff to do their jobs, not just sanitizing. Since most items reported by the Housekeeping Committee members appeared to be maintenance related items, the Housekeeping Chairperson will continue to work closely with the Maintenance and Engineering Committee Chairperson. The Housekeeping Committee hopes to meet in person at some point in the near future.
Members of the Housekeeping Committee have been 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 (Patricia Payne, Chair):
The Committee held a special monthly meeting on Thursday, December 10, 2020, at 7:00 PM on Zoom with YouTube live stream sharing on the Residents’ Council YouTube channel. The District 12 legislative representatives to the Maryland General Assembly attended the meeting: Senator Clarence Lam and Delegates Eric Ebersole, Jessica Feldmark, and Terri Hill. The delegation highlighted the key issues anticipated to be the focus of the upcoming session, including (1) delays in the distribution of unemployment benefits; (2) overriding the Governor’s veto of the BluePrint for Education; (3) COVID response; (4) law enforcement and police reform, and (5) budget challenges due to revenue declines.
Delegate Ebersole pointed out that 700 bills have already been pre-filed for the session that begins January 13. Pat said that she had reviewed the bills. There are 781 bills pre-filed. They include legislation on the Maryland Environmental Service, Vote by Mail and election law, a bill repealing the State song, evictions, and civil immunity for COVID response. Pat noted that it’s not worth spending time on bills introduced last session as they will most likely be bundled together and acted on early.
The best way to reach legislators in light of pandemic restrictions is to stay in touch via phone and email, and email preferred over texting. There will be fewer co-sponsors on bills because physically passing a bill around for sponsorship will not be permitted this year. In answer to a question, Senator Lam noted that redistricting would not come up until the 2022 General Assembly session due to delays in the receipt of census data.
The next meeting will be on January 13 at 10:00 AM by Zoom.
MAINTENANCE & ENGINEERING (Jackie Graham, Chair):
Due to campus lockdown and staffing issues, many projects have been postponed or rescheduled. Many issues are scheduled for repricing and prioritizing. These are Management decisions. Kevin Crawford and Chris Caldwell have been wonderful at handling many of the daily issues.
These items are tentatively scheduled for this year:
AC Maple Terrace [bldg. 2]
Roof replacement of various buildings and bridges
Painting and aesthetic issues throughout our campus.
Our next Zoom meeting will be held on January 26 at 2:00 PM.
RESIDENT LIFE (Ron Fayer, Chair):
The Committee did not meet in December. However, the Resident Life and Communications and Council officers had a discussion with input from Mary Evans and Lisa Roeder. Topics discussed included isolation among residents and the lack of computer literacy. Both issues can and do affect each other. A vigorous discussion during the meetings from management, Council members, and residents provided thoughtful recommendations on these complex issues. The concern that an unknown but possibly significant number of residents don’t use computers to communicate led to the idea that those who might want to attend Council Committee meetings could attend and participate by telephone. This led to an article in the January 2021 Sunburst listing all Council committees, the major topics they cover, contact persons, time of meetings, and how to use the telephone to join in. The interaction among the Health Committee, Communication Committee, and the Residents’ Life Committee was important in developing these meetings and actions.
Although it might be helpful, the article in the January Sunburst is not expected to initiate a sea-change among the targeted residents. More needs to be done to help with the aforementioned issues. A joint meeting between the Communications and Residents’ Life Committees is proposed for January to continue to find ways to improve computer literacy for residents who wish to learn. Possible development of technical help groups to be announced in the Sunburst and on channel 972, recruitment of new committee members, and continued interaction with other committees is foreseen in the coming months.
A special working group, the Digital Equity Task, has been established to help residents find ways to communicate during the COVID pandemic and afterward. We plan to continue to use the Zoom format and phone for meetings.
The next meeting will be Wednesday, January 20, at 2:00 PM.
SAFETY & SECURITY (Ed Wallace, Chair):
The Safety and Security committee did not meet in December due to the Christmas holidays.
What has been achieved in 2020? We attempted to get two videos on fall prevention to be shown on channel 792, without success. A sub-group was created with members of the Health Committee and the Safety and Security committee to cover fall prevention. Two articles were published in the Sunburst on Cyber Security for Seniors.
Plans for 2021. The third article on cybersecurity for seniors has been submitted to the Sunburst for January publication. A fourth article is being written for publication in the February Sunburst.
After a discussion about leaving EMVs in the hallway, we found that this practice is not allowed. Anyone seeing an EMV in the hallway should alert Security to handle the issue.
The next meeting of the Safety and Security Committee will be held at 1 PM on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, using Zoom.
NOMINATING AND ELECTIONS COMMITTEE REPORT (Patricia Payne, Chair)
It is the task of the Nominating Committee to prepare a list of the names of the nominees to the Residents’ Council for 2021 and to prepare for the election of candidates to serve on the Council. The former Chair has given me the ‘book’ of instructions for the Nominating Committee. The Chair of the Committee is appointed by the Council, and the Committee is required to consist of at least seven members. The following persons have agreed to serve on the Nominating Committee for the 2021 Resident Council elections:
Patricia Payne (Chair), Anna Marie Ciarrocchi (Assistant Chair), Hope Tillman, Diane Lyons, Joan Green, William “Bill” Miller, Wendel Thompson, Sherry Stewart, and Pat Kasuda.
The first meeting of the 2021 Nominating and Elections Committee is scheduled to take place on Thursday, January 14, 2021, at 1:00 PM.
WORDS FROM MANAGEMENT (Nathan Blumberg):
Nathan Blumberg began by complimenting the Residents for our hard work getting so much done in the midst of COVID-19 and said “Thank You” and “Happy New Year.”
With the talk of vaccinations, it is already a better year. Nathan said, “Let’s make the best parts of 2020 be the worst parts of 2021.”
While he did not want to detract from the regular administrative updates, Nathan has served as the COVID Incident Commander, and, as we saw after Thanksgiving, he is concerned about a potential uptick in the next few weeks. He hopes that many residents heeded warnings and stayed safe over the holidays. He encourages all of us to informally talk to other residents about what they did over the holidays and, maybe, learn if they did not take all precautions we have been asked to take. Contact tracing occupies a lot of his time right now.
Nathan reported that there was a successful Vaccination Clinic on 12/23. Setting up the clinic was quite an endeavor considering Charlestown had four days from the time CVS notified us to the day of the clinic. This was for skilled nursing and long-term care residents and staff. The second clinic is being set up for 1/13. It is hoped that the balance of Wilton Overlook staff and residents will be vaccinated that day. He is not sure when the Assisted Living residents will be scheduled.
The Governor has a goal to get people vaccinated as soon as possible. Most of Charlestown is in category 1B. Administration is working with our partners on how best to provide vaccinations to residents in Independent Living, providing the clinics in the most effective way possible.
The number of 400 forms previously mentioned is now considerably higher. The actual number of forms received will be announced during the Administrative program on Wednesday, January 6. He wants everyone to get vaccinated. The current call to action is to ‘talk up’ the availability of vaccinations to fellow residents, which will be offered in the near future.
Nathan then announced staffing changes. The new Nursing Home Administrator (Continuing Care Administrator) is Pauline Fraser. She began working here on January 5. She has been with the company for over 15 years and last worked at Riderwood. She has moved from the ranks of LPN, and with her Nursing background, she is a great addition to the staff.
The new Assistant Nursing Home Administrator, replacing Chris Fitzgibbons, whose last day is Friday, is Eric Grimmel, who has a tremendous background. He has been working with Lorien prior to Charlestown. Also, next week, Shinina Campbell will become the Assistant Director of Nursing with Leslie Johnson and Gisele Kouevi. Administration is delighted with the new additions to the Nursing staff.
Discussion: A council member asked which vaccine was being given at Charlestown. Nathan responded that the Pfizer vaccine was given at the first clinic, but he was not sure which vaccine would be given at future clinics.