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Emma DeVito
President and Chief Executive Officer

 

 

Rallying in the Face of Chaos

 

 

When Sandy struck New York City, thousands of frail and vulnerable residents – many of them older adults – were at risk of being in harm’s way.

 

 

Many of these individuals were in nursing homes, home care, assisted living and other programs that are often their lifeline.  Much of this care is provided by community-based, not-for-profit organizations.

 

 

Sandy threatened to cut off that lifeline for an untold number of these at-risk residents.

 

 

That didn’t happen, but only because of the extraordinary efforts exerted by health care workers, particularly those who provide direct care, to answer a call to duty.

 

 

At VillageCare, where we provide services to more than 12,000 persons each year, the challenges last week were huge.

 

 

Before the storm, we made every conceivable effort to get out into the community to make sure that those we serve at home were safe and secure where they were, or help them evacuate to a safer place.

 

 

As everyone knows now, the storm brought such tremendous challenges.  Stepping up and meeting them required people working at VillageCare – and throughout health care in New York City for that matter –  to respond way beyond what they already give day-in and day-out in the service of others.

 

 

When the storm struck, it virtually crippled much of VillageCare’s operations.

 

 

All our sites lost power, except for VillageCare at 46 & Ten, our assisted living residence in Hell’s Kitchen.

 

 

Our two skilled nursing facilities – Rivington House and the VillageCare Rehabilitation and Nursing Center – have powerful generators, which allowed them to remain open and to operate throughout the crisis.

 

 

Our Home Care nurses and aides continued to provide care, but often they faced considerable difficulties because of transportation issues, with mass transit shut down and gasoline for cars in short supply.  Our Adult Protective Services staff faced the same obstacles.

 

 

Everything else was closed – our day programs, The Momentum Project’s meal program, our health center and our office locations, including our corporate office on Christopher Street.  We had no electricity, no heat, no phones, no Internet access.

 

 

Administrators, program directors and managers often operated from remote locations – moving from program to program, and trying to keep in contact with each other with sketchy and spotty cell phone service and some Internet access with their smartphones.

 

 

The real heroes, however, are all those workers who extended themselves so much to make sure we had enough staff on-hand to see to the needs of the hundreds of people in our care.

 

 

They were selfless and sacrificing of their own concerns in order to make sure that we could take care of so many people in need.

 

 

I can’t say enough about their commitment to the people we serve and their dedication to making sure that virtually everyone in our care was covered.  They took extraordinary steps to get to, and stay, at their jobs.

 

 

Many of those we serve at VillageCare are among a population with few resources – they are “needy,” as that often-heard description goes.

 

 

For many, being cut off and isolated, as can readily happen in a crisis such as the one we all just experienced, can truly become a matter of life and death.

 

 

Without the great efforts and perseverance of our staff throughout the organization, I don’t know what would have happened to all those we serve who were at considerable risk.

 

 

I don’t think they would have fared very well on their own.

 
 
 

 

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