Last Updated on August 5, 2022
THE RECORD OF THE CHARLESTOWN RESIDENTS’ COUNCIL
Feb. 1, 2022
Residents’ Council Website: ccicharlestown.org
The Council observed a moment of silence for those who have passed away.
With one minor editorial change, the minutes of the Residents’ Council meeting held on January 4, 2022 were approved as distributed.
Pat Rudolph read the following: Helping Each Other Builds Community
From Margaret Cutchins:
Transition is a word sometimes used to describe the move from Independent Living to a higher level of care. Any change is troubling for many Charlestown residents. Margaret Cutchins enjoyed 23 years in her sixth floor Brookside apartment. She made jellies for the Craft Fair and worked with women’s clothing for Treasure Sales. But time was taking its toll. At 97 she knew she couldn’t continue to handle the usual routines in her Brookside apartment. Should she arrange for 24-hour support there, or should she move to Assisted Living? Her family said they would support her decision, no matter what it was. Margaret spent a rather sleepless night trying to decide. By morning, she knew. She would move to Assisted Living.
The Mission Moment people who helped Margaret through the decision were her neighbors and fellow volunteers. Her Mission Moment recommendation includes Peg Reiber, Betty Miller, Sharon Stewart, Bernice De Bels, Vicki Barr, and Linda and Dick Barnes. The bonds of friendship were formed while Margaret was in Independent Living, but they have continued through the transition to Wilton Overlook through phone calls and visits. Margaret says Wilton Overlook is not like her old home, but she didn’t expect it to be. She has new and old friends with whom to share this new life. She is thankful for her old life and the transition to the new one. She appreciates the friends and neighbors who showed Respect, Caring, Friendliness, and Enthusiasm to her, affirming her decision.
From Jack Day:
With Auditorium seating limited to 100 persons per event, tickets to the Harmonizers concerts would be hard to get. Jack Day arrived at the Terrace quite early to be sure of a ticket. As other early birds also arrived, the specter of chaos was evident. A line could be formed to stand in, but some residents weren’t up to standing for an hour. And in the age of Covid, social distancing was disappearing as the crowd got larger. What to do? Taking charge, Beth Schilpp, who had arrived first, found a pen, and gave each person a slip of paper numbered in order of arrival. People could disperse and sit comfortably at tables with a few friends while they waited. When the 11:00 a.m. ticket selling began, there was no crisis. Beth was #1, Jack was #3, and everyone was comfortably assured of their place in line. Jack recommends Beth for Mission Moment recognition for averting chaos, dissipating tensions, and restoring harmony.
If you witness or hear about a resident who has gone beyond expectations to build Harmonious Community Living, send your recommendation to Phyl Lansing at CR403 or email@example.com.
Pat then called on the following officers and committee chairs for reports; the text of those reports appears following the formal minutes:
● Pat Rudolph, President
● Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker, Vice President
● Mimi O’Donnell, Secretary
● Ron DeAbreu, Treasurer
● Eugenia High, Chair of the Benevolent Care Committee
● Dick Crebs or David Elder, Co-Chairs of the Communications Committee
● Anna Marie Ciarrocchi, Chair of the Conservation Committee
● Ron McNab or Mary Lee Seaman, Co-Chairs of the Dining Committee
● John Yoder, Chair of the Finance Committee
● Mike Rose, Chair of the Grounds Committee
● Carol Eshelman, Chair of the Health Services Committee
● Sebastian Petix, Chair of the Housekeeping Committee
● Pat Payne, Chair of the Legislative/Political Committee
● Gordon Piché, Chair of the Maintenance & Engineering Committee
● Rosemary Eck or John Remias, Co-Chairs of the Resident Life Committee
● Justine Parezo, Chair of the Safety & Security Committee
● John Yoder, Chair of the Nominating & Elections Committee
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: None
NEW BUSINESS: None
WORDS FROM MANAGEMENT
Clara Parker then presented “Words from Management” which appear below for those residents interested in reading the full text of the message.
ANNOUNCEMENTS/ PRESIDENT’S REPORT (Pat Rudolph):
Well, it is the first of February and you’ve got to say things are better than they were a month ago. The Omicron virus appears to be in retreat. The dining rooms are open. And we missed the big snowstorm. As I move about the community people are playing games and we are attending meetings in person. A lot of things are the way they used to be. But not quite. It was interesting that during a meeting I had this week, a relatively recent resident asked, “What things have not come back? What things do you miss that you haven’t been able to do yet?”
And I’m going to ask you what things you miss?
• I miss the Council sitting at a table during the monthly Council meeting.
• I miss smiles.
• I miss having staff move tables for our meetings.
Pat listed things she is missing:
• Treasure Sale
• Breakfast in the Terrace
• Cookouts on the Patio for holidays
• Breakfast at the Atrium
When I really thought about many of these things. I realized that they were times when we got together. Maybe it was the Treasure Sale and we were working towards a common goal. Or maybe it was the Gala and we were having a good time. But we were getting together and we were working together. I think we need to remember those good “getting together times”. We live in a really divided country and Charlestown is no different. People have very strong beliefs and they’re not going to change them. We need to try to live harmoniously with each other, which means that we need to show respect. We need to show courtesy, and we always need to assume that even if we disagree with somebody 100%, that person is coming from a good faith place.
We want to make our community better. We all may not agree on some things. But we all seek to make this a vibrant community.
One of the ways we can work together is to work with the Residents’ Council. All these fine folks up here on the stage are members of the Residents’ Council. It may seem a little bit early to you, but we are beginning the process of recruiting nominees for the elections come August. Please think about it. You kind of know what we do. You come to the meetings; you hear what we do. We really welcome your participation. If you would like to be a nominee, please step forward. If you know someone you think would be a good nominee, nominate that person. And we will not tell her or him that you did. But we are always seeking nominees, and we hope we will think about becoming a nominee.
Bill’s Place, a resident-run Happy Hour, is due to open this Friday, the February 4 at 3:30 in the Fountain Hill cardroom. This is a place where you can socialize while you enjoy a glass of wine which costs $1.50. The Fountain Hill cardroom is on the way to the Medical Center. We hope to see you there.
VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT (Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker):
Thank you to all those that have submitted questions, comments, etc. via the Council Communications Form either online at CCICharlestown.org or by internal mail. Your questions have been referred to the appropriate committees for investigation or resolution. I have attended many of the monthly committee meetings at which time I have checked on the progress of those questions. Please be assured that they are being addressed. Some issues take longer to resolve, as you will hear in the committee reports tonight.
I received this communication, which I want to read to you and that we can all agree upon. Please keep those positive comments coming. Kudos from Council and residents to Human Resources Director Paulette Tansill and her Department for recruiting and hiring us back to restaurants and housekeeping re-accepting apartments to be cleaned.
I encourage you to attend committee meetings; they are open to us all. Consider becoming a member of any committee of interest and consider running for the Residents’ Council. We need your voices to be heard.
TREASURER’S REPORT (Ron DeAbreu):
The Council’s account balance at the end of December was $3,316.46. The Council had no income or expenditures in January. Thus, the Council’s account balance remains $3,316.46.
SECRETARY’S REPORT (Mimi O’Donnell, Secretary, and Diana Dunaway, Assistant Secretary):
BENEVOLENT CARE (Eugenia High, Chair):
We met on January 26, via Zoom, with Patty Santoni, Emily Fowler, and Lisa Zehring. Our invited guests, Don Grove and Gladstone James, pledged to support the Benevolent Care Fund efforts and help to emphasize the importance of the Benevolent Care Fund to residents.
Despite the pandemic, more money was raised in 2021 when compared to 2020. This included donations from residents, friends, families, employees, vendors, and the Board. There were significant sales from various clubs, groups, and the sales stores. The Shortline and Cross Creek display case sales were successful.
The Charlestown Philanthropy Annual Report for 2021 will be distributed to residents in mid-February. Patti Santoni wrote an article in the Sunburst where she reported the profits that were made at those different events/activities mentioned.
Fundraising plans for 2022 include Giving Hearts Day on February 9. The 2022 focus will be on the ways residents can contribute via planned gifts, legacy donations, stocks, and by encouraging family, neighbors and friends to be more supportive. The future May Treasure Sale will depend upon COVID numbers and safety precautions and protocols that we have to follow. Plans are underway for the third annual Love Boat Cruise Telethon in September.
Our next meeting will be held on February 3 at 2:00 pm via Zoom.
COMMUNICATIONS (Dick Crebs and David Elder, Co-Chairs):
Our January meeting was held with Mary Evans and Greg Johnson in attendance. Charlie Eichenlaub provided an update on Evergreen Topics. These are topics that keep coming up and which stay with us all the time. As you’ve heard housekeeping services in apartments will resume in February.
The emergency alert system will become the EMNS, the Emergency Mass Notification System. For example, we had an accidental fire alarm recently in St. Charles at 4:00 am. The EMNS will be helpful as it can send a notification to a specific area rather than to the entire campus. Thus, with the recent fire alarm, for example, a message could have been sent to only residents in St. Charles.
Check into the Charlestown website, CCICharlestown.org. At the very top center, you’ll see a red icon labeled emergency info. There you can find out more about EMNS.
Club information is also available. For example, David Elder and I are members of the photography interest group, PHIG. If you click on the magnifying glass on the upper right-hand corner and type in PHIG, you can see photos from our January meeting. The theme was light and you can view several photos taken of the recent snowfall.
As always, residents are urged to call 1-800-677-0211 to report Wi Fi problems. We talked about sunsetting of 3G Wireless effects on Charlestown residents. Unfortunately, some of you may need to upgrade your Wi Fi instrument, your phone, etc. We all get a lot of spam phone calls. We are aware of a smart call blocking phone, which I bought. By next month, I may have more to share with you on whether it worked or not.
We learned that the use of an entrance gate puck or visitor badge without a parking sticker is insufficient to avoid a parking fine at Charlestown. If you have a family member or friend who only has the puck, they need to be careful where they park. The “Away Form” seems to be working now. We had some complaints last month, but the issues seem to have been cleared up.
CONSERVATION (Anna Marie Ciarrocchi, Chair):
The Committee met on January 18. We are planning to work hard to follow the legislation that is in the Legislature focused on conservation and taking care of our environment. Two bills stand out. The first, Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act, Senate Bill 135 and House Bill, 0171, (Sponsored by Senator Kramer and Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo) requires the State to reduce greenhouse gases, so that after 2040, statewide, greenhouse gas emissions are negative.
The second bill is a new vehicles pollution fee. Sponsored by Senator Kramer and Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo, this bill would require vehicles sold beginning in 2023 have a limit on carbon admissions or their owners will pay a fee. This fee is going to be used for rebates for those who buy electric cars and other infrastructure support. This is a way of supporting the conversion to electric vehicles.
Senator Zucker and Delegate Corman are submitting a bill which would require the conversion of buses that the state uses to zero emission buses.
Our next meeting is on February 15 at 2:00 pm, most likely via Zoom. If you want the Zoom link, just contact me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
DINING SERVICES (Mary Lee Seaman, Co-Chair):
We met on January 19, via Zoom. Ron MacNab, co-chair of our committee, announced that Roberta Poulton will be stepping down as moderator of the dietary focus group. He acknowledged Roberta’s time and commitment to the group. If anyone is interested in taking on the leadership of the dietary focus group, please contact Roberta.
Ken Zahn stated the plan is to return to Signature Dining in the near future. (This occurred on January 24). The bars will open following the regular schedule. However, the small plates service at the Chesapeake will be delayed for a while. He also noted that the recipe books will be located at the front of the restaurants again, and that the suggestion boxes will be there also. Charlestown has hired 70 new servers for the dining rooms. We ask everyone to be a little patient as the new servers get more accustomed to waiting tables that they have never done before.
And it was also recommended that because of the confusion about the dining hours for the Martin Luther King holiday, it was suggested that those hours be posted on my Erickson. The Meet and Eat tables are going to be back. Ken was asked if the delivery charge was going to be reinstated. He said he had contacted the VP at Erickson and was told the fee would not be reinstated until Signature Dining is back across the entire enterprise.
Our next meeting is on Monday, February 21 at 2:00 pm here in the auditorium and all are welcome.
FINANCE (John Yoder, Chair):
The Finance Committee met on January 25, via Zoom, with finance director Gladstone James and financial analyst Heather Reck. In attendance were eleven members of the finance committee, three members of the Council Executive, and guests, Executive Director Clara Parker and Director of Human Resources, Paulette Tansill.
Paulette narrated a slide presentation describing the structure and work of the Human Resources Department to attract, hire, and support staff. Almost 1000 full and part time employees work at Charlestown.
Highlights from the financial report:
Occupancy in Independent Living remains generally stable, though still below budget with current occupancy just under 92% for the year 2021. There were 186 settlements in Independent Living; 22 more than had been budgeted. There were 196 releases; 10 more than had been budgeted. Thus, we closed out the year in Independent Living, with 10 fewer units being occupied than at the beginning of the year. This is still better than the budget projections for a net loss of 22 units.
Assisted Living closed out the year with occupancy around 89%. That’s about seven percentage points above what was projected in the budget. Occupancy in other categories finished a few percentage points below expectations.
Operating income for 2021 was strong for the year. (Remember, “revenue” is income minus expenses.) Revenue was $10.7 million, which is about $1 million above the budget projection. Cash Flow remained stable. The cash balance at the end of the year was $8.5 million, almost matching exactly the $8.48 million balance with which we closed out the previous year.
The Benevolent Care Fund had an inflow during 2021 of just over $1.5 million and incurred about $1.6 million in expenses. This, when added to the beginning balance of $103,652, leaves an end of year balance of $55,186. But note that these numbers do not include the assets held by the Benevolent Care Foundation, which are managed and reported separately.
The Scholars Fund received about $415,000 during 2021 and paid out about $172,000 which, when combined with a beginning balance of $1.3 million, brings the current balance in that fund, including investments to $1.7 million.
Inflow to the Staff Appreciation Fund for 2021 was just under $288,000 with payouts of about $275,000 during the year. The balance, at the close of the year, including the beginning balance of $9,450 stands at $21,871.
The next meeting of the Finance Committee will be at 9:00 am on February 22. We will decide at a later date if we will meet by Zoom or in Brookside Classroom 1.
GROUNDS (Mike Rose, Chair):
The Grounds committee met with the staff in January 25. The Grounds staff provides a lot of support for us.
At our request, Grounds is going to create an appropriate sign for the memory walk as they have for some of the other buildings. They are also going to finish repairing and repainting lampposts that were left from last year’s contract.
The new grounds contract is going to include aeration and overseeding of specific areas at Brookside and other areas that were previously identified last year. Brightview, even though they’re not our contractor this year, is still responsible for repairing some of the work they did last year that didn’t take, and as a result, they will be back to complete that work.
Caton Ridge repair is still to be decided. Four cherry trees are scheduled for removal. There are no plans yet for redoing the front entrance there.
I want to tell you about the Shortline Trail which is outside what we would usually consider Charlestown. This trail runs all the way to Ellicott City and all the way down past here towards the city. We cannot access the trail because we have a fence in the way. We looked into the possibility of getting access to the Trail through that fence because we have several really good hikers at Charlestown who have asked about access. This request proved not to be viable because of problems with access, safety, and security.
The Nature Trail update will include installing four by fours, wood chips, and routine tree work as soon as the weather breaks. The Board of Directors is looking at plans for redoing the front entrance.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, February 22, in Brookside Classroom 1 at 11:00 am.
HEALTH SERVICES (Carol Eshelman, Chair):
HOUSEKEEPING (Sebastian Petix, Chair):
The committee met on January 24. We had 11 committee members, one guest, and one staff in attendance. Housekeeping Manager, Michelle Fenn, reported the addition of a number of new hires. In-home cleaning has resumed because of the newly-hired staff.
We had a discussion about how all residents can be active in reporting any issues in housekeeping by filling out CCI work orders. This can be done on line. We invite you to become part of the committee where you report everything or anything that you see that needs attention. The good news is that, while our committee has been reporting regularly, it has found that there’s a lot less to report because we have new hires and also because many of you have been reporting issues and things have been acted on.
Under old business, Betty Elder, my assistant, has been reporting on an ongoing issue that we’ve discussed here and that many of you are concerned about abandoned bicycles. A number of residents have complained that bikes in the stairways can be a hazard. Betty Elder and Greg Johnson, Communications Manager, have done a survey of all of the bicycles. Some of the bicycles are not abandoned, but nobody knows to whom they belong. Some of the bikes have been found with missing parts, flat tires, and lots of dust. Greg is going to red tag bicycles that are abandoned, but he’s also going to put notices on bicycles that don’t appear to be abandoned, although we don’t know to whom they belong. The goal is to have a record of the owners of these bicycles. If people don’t respond after their bikes have been red tagged, a next step may include removal of those bicycles.
Another very interesting project that Betty and Greg have taken on is to take a look at all of our storage bins. They have discovered a number of storage bins that are empty and haven’t been assigned to anyone. They also have found bins with junk in them because former residents have left the community and nobody cleaned them out. These bins could be beneficial to new residents who sometimes have a bin which is several buildings away from their apartment. Plus, unused bins are a loss of income to Charlestown.
I wrote an article for Sunburst which is about Michelle Fenn, Housekeeping Manager. She moved to Maryland from Long Island and began working here 30 years ago because her mother worked here. This is a really inspirational story.
Our next meeting is March 28 at 10:00 am Brookside Classroom 1, unless we decide to meet by Zoom.
LEGISLATIVE/POLITICAL (Pat Payne, Chair):
The Committee met at 10:00 am on Wednesday, January 17, 2022 on Zoom. The minutes of the January meeting were approved as submitted. Key matters discussed at the meeting included the following:
• Two instructional videos produced by the Maryland General Assembly highlighting how the average citizen can easily track legislation during the 2022 legislative session are being shown on TV 972. Watch it! You can become your own lobbyist!
• The Committee sent a letter to Charlestown groups/clubs offering to track legislation of interest to their group during the Session. An example is the bill that seeks to mitigate the spread of non-native plants and invasive vines across the state. Charlestown has a resident volunteer crew battling invasive plants right here on our campus!
Status of Redistricting in Maryland:
• The General Assembly has approved new Congressional and Legislative maps that will govern the 2022 elections in Maryland.
• The Baltimore County Council adopted its final County Council redistricting plan in December 2021.
• The Primary Election is scheduled for June 28, 2022. The General Election for November 8, 2022.
• The League of Women Voters has let us know that County Board of Elections will need time to issue new Voter ID cards. The Board will have to follow up on all the street names due to the new boundaries. So, be patient!
• The Legislative/Political Committee is planning a special TV 972 briefing devoted entirely to redistricting in Maryland and what it means for Charlestown residents for late February/early March.
News: Maryland General Assembly 2022
• On February 14, Valentine’s Day, we will be recording a TV 972 interview with two members of the Maryland General Assembly: Delegate Eric Ebersole and Delegate Pat Young.
• We will ask them to update us on key issues facing the 2022 legislative session, especially what is planned for Maryland’s record $4.6 billion budget surplus.
• In 2022 Maryland will elect a new Governor, Attorney General and State Comptroller. Plus, we will have new legislative districts, and several key committee chairs in the Legislature will change. We will ask the delegates what major changes they expect to see as a result.
If you have questions for these legislators, call or send me an email. All committee meetings are open.
MAINTENANCE & ENGINEERING (Gordon Piché, Chair):
The meeting was held on Tuesday, January 25 at 2pm, in the General Services’ Conference Room. 5 Committee members met with General Services’ Kevin Crawford, Chris Caldwell, and Donald Hoffman. Also in attendance were Council VP Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker and Council member John Remias.
PROJECTS SCHEDULED FOR THIS YEAR 2022
• Brookside Renovations – on schedule – includes carpet, wallpaper, furniture
• Elevator Generator for St. Charles – on order, expected in February
• Elevator for Bldg. 7 – Will finish in February
• Scheduled Roof Replacements – Buildings 8, and 9
• Terrace level awning replacements – Any not done will be done this spring and summer
• AC for Maple Terrace – scheduled for March/April
• Replace elevator – Charlestown Square
• Interior Signage needs up dating – action underway
PROJECTS SCHEDULED FOR NEXT YEAR 2023
• Herbert’s Run Renovations
• Auditorium Stage Renovations – No decision at this time
• Refectory – no new information at this time
ITEMS OF CONCERN THAT NEED ATENDTION
• Renew centerline striping on road near the Chapel
• Outside door into small reception area before the doors into the main Chapel needs repair
• Water leakage in the ceiling of the Ladies Boutique
• Roadway wood guard rails – an incremental approach was discussed
• Replacement of batteries for alarms in apartments (smoke vs pull cords) – it was suggested that this be a Resident Council issue since it involves multiple departments
Next scheduled meeting February 22, 2022
RESIDENT LIFE (Rosemary Eck and John Remias, Co-Chairs):
I am Rosemary Eck, Co-Chair of the Resident Life Committee. The Committee met on January 19, 2022, to welcome Karen Leighton, Charleston’s new Director of Resident Life. She was formerly Manager of Rehabilitation within Continuing Care.
Karen answered questions for those present. In response to a question, she said no resident is forced to move to another level of care. But when health, balance, or memory concerns threaten well-being, family members are consulted along with the resident’s physician prior to a thoughtful recommendation.
The pool water heater has been installed. Karen Leighton and Mary Evans are making a list of events to introduce gradually as the COVID cools and the weather warms. Their plans include activities coincident with the Olympics this month in China.
The next Resident Life Committee meeting is Wednesday, February 16 at 2:00 pm Brookside Classroom 2.
I am John Remias Chair of the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, DIB, Subcommittee. We met on January 21, with 28 residents, and Paulette Tansill and Mary Evans as the staff representatives. The main purpose of the meeting was for Paulette and Mary to update us on the operation of the Charlestown DIB Council. This is primarily a Staff Committee with two resident representatives, Jackie Graham and me.
The DIB Council was formed in 2010 and was initially primarily focused on staff. Mary and Paulette explained that the staff DIB Council is the group that among other things, comes up with a calendar of events having to do with DIB activities during most of the months of the year. As an example, this month is Black History Month; next month, Women’s History. Then there is Mental Health Awareness month. These examples might give you an idea of the calendar. Mary and Paulette emphasize that resident input is welcomed at any time for new items to be added to this calendar as well as resident help, as has been done in the past, in carrying out the planned projects. The events calendar for 2022 has not yet been completed, but we hope to have it available soon for our next meeting.
After the presentation by Paulette and Mary, there was a spirited question and answer period. The main concern continues to be how we, as a community, are going to observe Pride Month in June. This is an active conversation that I hope will be settled in the not-too-distant future with the help of the administration. As time goes on, we’ll be focusing on all the other important aspects of diversity here. Our next meeting is scheduled for Friday, February the 18 at 1:00 pm, probably in Brookside Classroom 1.
The first topic at that meeting will be agreement on some mission and vision statements that we have developed for the subcommittee because we are new. We are trying to figure out what we are about and how to implement plans that show our purpose. These statements were developed by a small work group. We have held a series of meetings. Working to maintain and improve the goal of harmonious living at Charlestown will certainly be our emphasis for this year and certainly in the years to come.
SAFETY & SECURITY (Justine Parezo, Chair):
Our last meeting was on January 8, via Zoom, with Shaun White, Safety and Security Manager, and Pat Rudolph in attendance.
We have a few new objectives that we are adding to what has been our usual and continuing projects. One is to develop a list of question and answers that new residents might have about any issues related to safety and security. Another has to do with the safety of drivers and pedestrians on our roadways. The third is to encourage people to wear their pendants and their name tags regularly, since there are safety implications for these.
We would appreciate any input you might have that we can use to develop certain activities or programs to bring awareness to these issues. For example, if you can think of any questions, you had or maybe new friends have had about safety, let us know what these questions are. We are going to be making answers available to everyone.
For example, when I first moved here, I just was blown away by the beauty of the campus and I remember a wonderful fall evening. I wanted to go for a walk, and I wondered if it was safe for a woman to walk the sidewalks of this campus alone at night. That would be just an example of a question somebody new might have.
If you notice any particular areas such as cross walks, where there seem to be a lot of safety violations, let us know. We are looking for ideas that we can use to raise awareness and maybe change some behaviors for members of the committee and residents. We need to be able to notify the Security Department of particular issues that they will have to address. We also want to be able to do something as a committee to get people thinking about safety and security.
We are hearing that mainly vendors, delivery persons, and contractors do not seem to notice stop sign or a crosswalk. All residents can help with identifying problems.
There has been a lot of interest in the fact that now we need to use our phones when we want to enter some of the main door doorways or entrances into the buildings. This is sometimes inconvenient for people. But we have learned that this is a temporary situation. The intercoms we use by pushing the button and waiting for someone from security to let us in are being replaced.
Also, some people mentioned that there were pictures of fire extinguishers in elevators that said, locked behind such and such a door. Those signs were there only for the benefit of new trainees. Our fire extinguishers are readily available to us were we to ever need them.
Again, I just asked you to let us know if you have any concerns or anything you have noticed. You are the only way that we learn what we need to advocate for. We really want to be here in a very purposeful way to serve the community. And you heard about the fact that there are forms that you can get at the front desk or online that could be forwarded to us to let us know if there’s something we need to attend to.
Our next meeting will be next Tuesday, February 8 at 1:00 pm via Zoom.
NOMINATING AND ELECTIONS: (John Yoder, Chair)
I hope you’ve seen some of our posters around campus saying “We Want YOU!”. You’ve heard that already here as well. We need at least 14 of you folks, sitting out there, to be willing to run in the election that is coming this summer.
Members of this year’s committee are: Anna Marie Ciarrocchi, Joan Green, Pat Kasuda, Sherry Stewart, Wendell Thompson, Diane Lyons, Hope Tillman, and Pat Payne, Co-Chair with me. Our task is to bring forward 14 excellent nominees for election to the Residents’ Council by May 2022.
The committee will also manage the events leading up to the election on the first Wednesday of August.
At our meetings, we have focused on the immediate task of recruiting willing nominees. We use the following methods to identify potential candidates: the list of residents who have moved in over the last eight to 12 months; residents who were contacted last year, but who said check back next year; and previous council members who are eligible to serve again. Finally, and this is very important, persons that had been suggested by people like you or other residents. Various outreach activities were also discussed, including posters that I hope you have seen, articles in the Sunburst, and interviews on TV 972. We also discussed the important qualities for candidates such as an interest in the work of the Council, engagement in the life of the community, and necessary computer skills.
We agree on the importance of confidentiality as we discuss candidates for election. The next meeting of our committee (it is not an open meeting) will be on Thursday, February 10 at 10:00 am.
COMMENTS (Pat Rudolph, President)
As you know in the past, or you might not be aware of the fact, that our meetings are recorded and of course they’re broadcast on 972. They are also posted on My Erickson. But in the past, when we’ve gotten to this point, the recording has shut down and we’ve had comments from the administration and questions and answers, but they have not been recorded.
Several people brought forward the idea that some very good information is disseminated during those question-and-answer time periods and that they ought to be recorded as well. We are doing that tonight. This is just a heads up; you’re being recorded. If you choose to ask a question, which I hope you will, you are giving us permission to record you and to post that recording on My Erickson, not publicly, but within our own community and to show it on Channel 972. If you have a topic that’s specific to you, it will probably be better to handle it one-on-one. I think Clara has agreed to stick around a little bit afterwards if there are such questions. And, as always, we are going to ask you, if you want to ask a question, to say your name and your apartment. The reason for that is not to embarrass you, but to make sure that we can contact you and follow up if follow up is needed.
WORDS FROM MANAGEMENT (Clara Parker, Executive Director)
I’m Clara Parker, your Executive Director. I missed you guys too; it is good to be back. I want to start with an apology to the Council. I referred to the Council as the “Resident’s Council” in my most recent Sunburst article. I learned my lesson and will write “Residents’ Council” in future publications.
I have a couple quick updates. We’ve got good COVID numbers. Our staffing numbers are coming back strong we are at about a 12% vacancy rate today. When I left for my leave, we were at about a 25% vacancy rate. With the staffing improvements, we are able to reopen the dining rooms, get back to housekeeping services in apartments, and do the things that we promised you when you made the decision to move in here.
I had the opportunity to have dinner in the Chesapeake tonight. The server didn’t know who I was. I didn’t get any special attention, which is how I like it. My meal was wonderful. So hopefully you’re experiencing that as well.
I’ve gotten many questions today about masks and whether or not we still need to wear masks at Charlestown especially because Baltimore County is lifting the mask mandate as of the end of the day today. I will be getting guidance from Erickson Living senior management tomorrow and hopefully have an update for you as to what our protocol will be at Charlestown. For now, you still need to wear a mask in all public areas as do our employees. I would anticipate we will lift the mask mandate for residents but probably still require it for employees.
We have a Board of Directors meeting next week, February 9 and 10. We had several board committee meetings today to talk about strategies around our strategic planning and capital investment for the community as well as strategies around resident satisfaction.
I wanted to take just a moment to talk a little bit about that, as I know these are very important topics, specifically capital investment. As reported tonight, some of the projects from the 2022 budget are actively underway. I think there was a comment about the 2023 budget that has not been approved by the Board of Directors yet. The Board has asked us to go back and reassess a five-year capital investment plan for the community. Our number one priority is the historic neighborhood at Charlestown. The Board committee that met today was supportive of our recommendations to do a more intense assessment of what’s possible not just in the Refectory, but in the entire part of the community that we consider our Historic District.
We will be developing a long-term plan for that reinvestment as well as a short-term strategy. We expect the long-term plan will require the hiring and engagement of an architect and the reengagement with the Erickson Senior Living’s development team.
We spoke with the Residents’ Council leadership about how we can partner to get some short-term solutions for the historic neighborhood while we wait for longer term plans. We will be working directly with the Council to get feedback from you and figure out what we can do that makes sense. These will be temporary, short-term solutions that won’t require a significant investment of your money. But we’ll provide some amenities to the residents in the historic neighborhoods that we don’t have today. I know we’ve been talking about this for a while, and we haven’t made a whole lot of progress, largely due to the distraction of COVID and then staffing and everything that we all have had for these last 24 months. But it is a priority; we will be communicating more, and all of you who are interested will have the opportunity to provide some input and feedback. That does not mean you will have the opportunity to get everything you want. We need to be frugal and appropriate and not invest a ton of money that we then will be tearing out as a result of a longer-term plan but I’m excited to finally get that moving.
We did announce this morning that the Refectory itself is available for resident meetings for social activities. Please reach out to Mary Evans. We had talked about using the Refectory if Bill’s Place gets too crowded.
I’m excited that we’re starting to get back to normal and perhaps the most important area where I’m excited is the opportunity to have more face-to-face meetings to get back into our rhythm of communication with you.
All of us are aware that we didn’t do a resident satisfaction survey last year and we didn’t do one the year before because of COVID. We will be doing a resident satisfaction survey this year. Typically, they take place in the fall. But I don’t want to wait until the fall to understand what you’re feeling, what you’re experiencing, what’s going well, and what could be going better. We are starting a series of neighborhood meetings with you in your clubhouses where we can talk face-to-face in a little more intimate setting. We’ll be communicating resident townhall meetings for administration, dining services, and general services. Your opinions really do matter. The last thing I want as your Executive Director is to get resident satisfaction survey data and be surprised by what is in the data. For the 10 years that I’ve been here when we have gotten the satisfaction survey results, there has never been anything that was a surprise. I think, as we get back into a rhythm of communication, it’ll be really important for us to get recentered on how you’re feeling, what you’re experiencing, and what we can be doing better. And, most importantly, what is really going well and what we can celebrate. I am happy to see you and happy February 1.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Maybe one of the questions is, I think they said there was like 86% occupancy in Assisted Living. Why is there such a long wait for people to get in? It seems like there is.
I can tell you in independent living, we’re starting to recover. We’re not quite where we need to be. In Assisted Living, by all accounts today, we are fully occupied, which is why there is a healthy waiting list for residents to get into Assisted Living, and we have seasonality with occupancy in Assisted Living. Assisted Living does have a long waiting list, and it always has. It is part of the strategy that the Board has supported in adding more assisted living apartments to our community infrastructure and taking some of our long-term care beds offline.
I like to think that because Charlestown provides such a great quality of life, good supportive resources, good nutrition, good ability to exercise and a stimulating for senior environment, people are living longer, they’re living better in our community. What used to be a stigma to move to Assisted Living has largely been eliminated with the introduction of Caton Woods, and we will never look back. Now that we’ve completed phase one of our master plan, and we’ve right sized our buildings, we haven’t had the need to move anybody out of the community because they can’t find a place at Charlestown that’s giving them the right level of care. It may require a little bit more of a wait time, which is why we have successful home care services and home support services to help provide that support needed until the resident or the family makes the decision to move to a higher level of care.
You also mentioned that $1.7 million is in the scholarship fund. What’s the benefit of having that much money there in that specific fund?
We try hard to spend that money and I know the scholarship committee has increased the scholarship amounts over the last couple of years. I think the program benefits our community and we need a well-funded scholarship fund. This benefit attracts and retains talent. Our staff can get a great experience around amazing people in a values-based organization and also get a scholarship to help pay for school. The scholars program really does make a difference.
Our entrance to the community is an impressive entrance and I think somebody said that there’s going to be some renovations. Does that mean the brick structure or the gate house? The other concern I have is when you come in and turn right, that curb is made for the circle, but not for the yield to the right. And my other point is that coming into Charlestown, what you see in front of you are the flags and the signs, especially the ones that thank our particular different groups like the engineering group or the housekeepers. But I don’t know what Activities Professionals are.
We like to celebrate at Charlestown! We do celebrate each of our employee groups. But we don’t necessarily own the terminology. Activity Professionals are the individuals within continuing care that organize activities for residents in Assisted Living, Long Term Care, and Rehab. It’s a very small group but they’re very active, very busy, and incredibly talented.
With respect to the scholars’ fund, just two comments. One, in the last couple of years, we’ve gotten a couple of very large donations that are unexpected and not normal. And second, we probably will increase the scholarship amount in the future.
There still seems like a lot of people getting their meals delivered to the apartments. Is there anybody tracking if there are some residents who haven’t been out of their apartment for a couple years?
We also have a social work team that is charged with not only managing a caseload of residents that need day-to-day support services, but reaching out to the broader community with some frequency just as a touch point. I can assure you that if there are residents who have not been out in the community, we can work with Support Services to help them live the best quality of life that they can.
I would like to comment about the right turn out of the entrance at Charlestown. I have seen many people hit it and then swerve because they’ve hit the curb. And since I have gotten a new vehicle, I find that I have to swing out over the line to make sure I don’t do that. And I think it would benefit everybody if that was just curved a little bit or cut a little bit so that it was easier for the turn.
One of the things we emphasized when I was chair of the Health Services committee, is that if you see something, say something. It is up to all of us to help our residents, our neighbors, or friends. When we think that they need help, please contact the Resident Coordinators. They are there to help.
President Rudolph adjourned the meeting at 8:33 p.m.
Secretary, Residents’ Council