In July 2020, a resident named Mrs. Tatyana was released from The Allure Group’s Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, having recovered from a bout with COVID-19 that at one point left her on a respirator.
As part of her Blue Carpet Farewell, a musician stood in the lobby of the facility, strumming a guitar and singing a rendition of an old Beatles song, “Here Comes the Sun,” which includes these lyrics:
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun do, do, do
Here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Where the pandemic was concerned, things weren’t very all right in the U.S. at that point, though the outlook has since brightened considerably. And throughout the crisis The Allure Group, under the leadership of chairman and founder Joel Landau, has endeavored to raise awareness, raise spirits and raise hopes.
One of the more promising signs to date came on Dec. 22, shortly after vaccines developed by the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna were granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA. That’s the date when Allure’s Crown Heights Center became one of the first long-term-care facilities in New York City to see its residents vaccinated. The very first of those was a man named George.
“This is the best thing that has ever happened,” he said at the time, “because it will prolong life.”
Not quite two weeks later, those at our Hamilton Park and King David Centers were also inoculated. The rollout has proceeded apace from there — and yes, smiles are returning to the faces.
Landau and Co. did all they could to ensure the health and happiness of residents and staff during the pandemic’s bleakest days, whether by making sure there was an ample supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand or by being vigilant about adjustments to governmental guidelines.
Allure’s leadership team also displayed considerable foresight when it installed PadInMotion technology at all 1,400 bedsides in its six facilities, well before the outbreak. These Samsung tablets were largely used by residents for entertainment and relaxation purposes at that point. But when governmental lockdowns became the norm, the pads provided residents with a lifeline to the outside world, enabling them to communicate with loved ones.
That is just one example of Landau’s long-time commitment to innovation. Another would be Allure’s use of hand-held remote monitors from Vis-a-Vis Health, which make it possible for residents to receive appropriate transitional care upon discharge.
Landau has spread the word about the impact of technology in online publications such as Provider Magazine, and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News quoted him extensively on the topic. Allure COO Melissa Powell also wrote about tech for McKnight’s.
Joel Landau also weighed in on the importance of testing staff, as well as the significance of healthcare professionals engaging in self-care during this crisis. Finally, he noted the particular challenges of protecting residents afflicted with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Another notable step was the completion of renovations to the King David Center. Those renovations, begun in October 2019, were spread over 16 months and included an expansion of the first-floor cafe to account for social-distancing protocols. The rehab center and robotics suite were also consolidated, and the lobby, nurses’ stations, resident units and hallways were made over. The final step was the completion in February 2021 of an aquatherapy pool, the first of its kind in a Brooklyn-based skilled nursing facility.
In the meantime Landau and Co. made sure to keep the spirits of residents and staff high. Particularly notable was the launch in May 2020 of the Hope Float, which celebrated Nurses Week by touring various facilities, both within and without The Allure Group network, to celebrate and uplift healthcare heroes. Music was played from atop the float. There was, literally, dancing in the streets. There was joy.
Other gestures were no less profound. On April 27 the Brooklyn-based musician Michael Abramovshcik serenaded King David Center residents from a street corner outside the facility.
“I saw their happy faces,” he told News 12 Bronx, “and that made me happy, too.”
In mid-July renowned pianist Jon Batiste, front man of Stay Human, the house band for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” performed for Crown Heights residents, just months before he would be honored with an Oscar for Best Original Score in the motion picture “Soul.”
Batiste, a Louisiana native and Juilliard graduate, appeared as part of an initiative for the nonprofit organization Sing for Hope, whose mission is to use the arts as a vehicle to uplift and unite communities. Batiste serves on the board of that organization, and is also music director of The Atlantic and co-artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
There have been numerous other occasions throughout the pandemic where staff and residents have been supported. Consider the food donation to Bedford Center employees by Shake Shack in July. Consider Plantogether, an initiative that has seen two young Crown Heights women, Baila Dalfin and Hechama Hecht, solicit donations of plants and funds so they might deliver greenery to seniors. They have reached hundreds, including those within the Allure network.
But mostly, consider everyday heroes like KellyAnn Byrne, Director of Concierge Services at King David Center. As she told Patch.com in October, she always “leads with (her) heart” while performing her duties, particularly during the lockdown, where she served as a go-between for residents and their loved ones.
“I just feel that I am their visitor,” she said of the facility’s 206 residents. “I’m their daughter or their son. I’m their sister or brother. Whoever they’re closest to, I’m that person for them.”
In other words, she made sure the smiles returned to the faces, and assured everyone that it was all right — that the sun was in fact coming.
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