July 3, 2020 San Francisco, CA – While senior communities, specifically skilled nursing facilities (SNF’s), across the country continue to count among those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, residents at Sequoia Living’s seven continuing care and affordable senior living communities in Northern California have remained free from COVID-19.
It’s true that Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRC’s, often have SNF’s as part of their continuum of care. Sequoia Living manages 144 skilled nursing beds at its CCRC’s in some of the region’s hardest hit areas. Even so, they have managed to avoid the same fate as other facilities by what some are considering a herculean focus on protecting their communities, staff, and residents.
“When the crisis first hit, we immediately educated ourselves on what the county health departments were recommending. We used this information to establish our own Sequoia Standards, which in some cases went above and beyond county recommendations,” said Sara McVey, CEO and President of Sequoia Living.
For many leaders, this crisis has become a make or break moment for their organizations. For McVey, who arrived at Sequoia Living just a few months prior to the pandemic, it has become one of her greatest professional challenges. And so far, she and her team have met the challenge head on.
To start, McVey and her senior leadership team examined their already comprehensive protocol for infection protection and expanded on that to bring the best information and resources tailored to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also leveraged the hundreds of dedicated staff members (often referred to as “Sequoia Superheroes”) who work in Sequoia Living communities. “We made sure staff understood that serving our residents comes with a tremendous responsibility to honor and adhere to safety precautions,” said McVey.
“Our goal was simple. We wanted to provide support to our staff and remove obstacles immediately,” said Martha Atwood, Chief Human Resources and Compliance Officer. “We provided continued pay and benefits to all employees who were absent due to any COVID related reason and connected front line employees with timely information on COVID financial, childcare and mental health resources.”
Regular, open communication is another key part of Sequoia Living’s success. Three times a week, the organization hosts virtual meetings with employees to share information, resources, and updates about what Sequoia Living is doing to keep staff and residents safe.
The final piece of the success story lies with McVey’s leadership team. Along with an experienced board of directors, McVey has a highly focused management team who have been helping with the day-to-day management of the crisis. The team includes a UCSF physician who has helped manage the infection control protocols, a registered nurse, and an emergency response professional. A creative IT team manages the flow of critical information, and HR personnel ensure additional benefits and programs are in place. Together, the team is dedicated to supporting staff and residents throughout the organization’s seven senior housing communities.
“While COVID-19 continues to interrupt the routines of our lives, we are confident that we are doing everything and more to protect our resident populations,” said McVey. “This pandemic is making us an even stronger organization. We are learning new ways forward, leaders are emerging, and change is being embraced in a way that previously would have taken months or years.”
About Sequoia Living
Sequoia Living, founded in 1958, provides homes and services to promote healthy aging for seniors in Northern California. Previously known as Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services, the organization is composed of four continuing care retirement communities (one under construction), three affordable housing communities, one manufactured home park for seniors, and two senior centers. Overall, Sequoia Living provides housing for 1,900 older adults and serves an additional 2,300 seniors through its community service programs. Learn more at www.sequoialiving.org.