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ERS Linkage Podcast - Episode 19

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It's a Beautiful Day in Our Neighborhood 

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Date: September 30th 2020

Hosts: Bryan Reynolds & Kristin Davenport

Guests: Resident Leesha Johnson  

Update from President & CEO Laura Lamb

For our nineteenth episode we hear from resident, Leesha Johnson at Walnut Court. Plus we hear from President and CEO, Laura Lamb.

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Episode 19 Transcript

Bryan Reynolds [00:00:04] Hello, hello, hello. Welcome to Episode 19 of the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services. This episode is for the week of September twenty eight thousand twenty. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Bryan Reynolds Vice President of Marketing for Episcopal Retirement Services. I'm here with Kristin Davenport, our director of communications for ERS and our executive producer. How are you, Krisitn?


Kristin Davenport [00:00:27] Doing well, Bryan. I'm glad to be here. Good to catch up with you.


Bryan Reynolds [00:00:31] Yeah, yeah. It's always, always fun to get a kick off a new week with a podcast. Yes, absolutely. So the Linkage podcast is dedicated to educating our audience about issues regarding aging, informing people about the mission of ERS and how that comes to life and our everyday interactions with our residents, clients, families and staff members. Kristen, you want to tell us about our upcoming episode?


Kristin Davenport [00:00:59] Yes, Bryan got some really terrific guests with us today. We're going to speak with one of our residents from Walnut Court. Her name is Leesha Johnson and she's going to talk with us a little bit about what it's like to live in the Walnut Court community right down the street from the historic Manse Hotel, which were which were renovating right now and building new apartments there. And then, of course, we'll be checking in with president and CEO Laura Lamb. She'll give us the lowdown of the highs and lows of last week and will be great to hear from her and all things ERS.


Bryan Reynolds [00:01:37] Oh, great. Well, great white. I just want to do a reminder that, ah, Together We Rise Virtual Gala is coming up here in a few weeks. And as the title suggests, we're hosting our first ever virtual Gala on Friday October 9th. So please join us for a special evening of a celebration, inspiration and entertainment, all in support of our Good Samaritan Mission Fund. We have a special live program created just for for all of our listeners and our donors and residents and even our staff. And it's gonna be. This year is going to be hosted by Curtis Fuller of Channel five. And speaking of The Model Group, we want to thank our presenting sponsors this year, The Model Group, Ridgestone Contractors and Builders, Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing and U.S. Bank. So with that said, Kristin, you want to introduce our first guest?


Kristin Davenport [00:02:37] Yes. Let me introduce our listeners to Leesha Johnson. Leesha is a resident at Walnut Court. And let's hear from Leesh what it's like to live in the Walnut Hills community.


Kristin Davenport [00:02:59] Welcome, Leesha, to our podcast. Thanks for being with me today.


Leesha Johnson [00:03:03] Thank you, Kristin-. Thank you for having me.


Kristin Davenport [00:03:05] You betcha. Yeah. So tell our listeners, what kind of a day is it like for you there? Walnut Court today. How are things going?


Leesha Johnson [00:03:14] Pretty quiet. I got a late start today, but it's been pretty quiet. I haven't been out today. Just putting around here but we we're getting, out. Yeah. Yeah.


Kristin Davenport [00:03:27] Tell us a little bit about what you have been doing during these times when we're trying to stay socially distance and be safer about our activities.


Leesha Johnson [00:03:37] Well, mostly what I've been doing during social distancing is this makes it kind of makes a lot easier because my neighbors were really pretty close knit bunch here. So, you know, this not having to spend time alone, I have to spend time alone because, you know, you can't really have a lot of family over if you don't have any essential work or lack of aid or something like that. They could be, you know, get pretty isolated. But because we have each other, we visit each other a lot. And, you know, my just it might just be two of three of us in the community room. But with the weather being when we're able to even just sit outside and still practice social distancing. So that makes it makes it really easy to pass the time.


Kristin Davenport [00:04:23] Yes. Well, that's good. I'm glad that you guys are doing things like that. And I I've heard that they did have some bingo and some things like that for you?


Leesha Johnson [00:04:35] Oh, yeah, we do. Since we've opened back up partially. We've been able to do some bingo with just fewer people. And we've also done crafts and we've had... They deliver meals to us. We even had lemonade where the activities coordinator brought lemonade and cookies to the door. And, of course, you know, I have to answer the door with your mask and everybody's masked up and gloved up. But you know, it keeps us busy, gives us something to do, some to look forward to other than every day ho um drum.


Kristin Davenport [00:05:12] That's right, yeah. Now, I guess if you get bored up the street there, there's a lot of construction going up at at site of the former Manse Hotel where ERS Affordable Living is working with The Model Group on what's going to be a brand new beautiful community. They've built a building and they're re renovating two buildings. So pretty soon you're gonna have some neighbors up the street.


Leesha Johnson [00:05:38] Yeah, I'm actually looking forward to that because when they it was kind of rough up there. I guess I'm really looking forward to the new building opening up. I believe is going to be three of them in total. Is that it?


Kristin Davenport [00:05:50] That's right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.


Leesha Johnson [00:05:53] Because, you know, with them shutting the building down and moving people out is kind of isolated out there over here, period. So I'm really looking forward to the new building opening up new neighbors and maybe, you know, that might beef up a little more this activity right. As it is. Does they've got isolated lately even? Because there's nothing really here. Right. And maybe that'll, you know, bring some more businesses and things to the community as well.


Kristin Davenport [00:06:20] Well, that's Walnut Hills is a is a community that's in the midst of some revitalization. And we're hoping that the Manse apartments there will be will be part of that.


Leesha Johnson [00:06:30] Yeah.


Kristin Davenport [00:06:33] Walnut Court there has been an improvement in the community. And so just adding on to that, just right up the street, there's apartments and a nice community room that they're going to renovate the ballroom of the hotel and they're going to make that a community room and they'll just like you all do, they'll have a fitness center and all that type of thing. So.


Leesha Johnson [00:06:58] Yes. I've been in the Manse building once or twice. My daughter had a friend there, but I've never really been through it with such a large building. I only want one door out the other because it was just so big. I got lost in there. So I can imagine, yeah, that's going to be a good improvement. I can't wait to see the completion and people can move in.


Kristin Davenport [00:07:21] Yes. Yes. That's for sure. Well, it's been good to catch up with you today. Can you just tell our listeners once this pandemic is over and it's safe, is there anything in particular you've been looking forward to getting back to?


Leesha Johnson [00:07:39] Probably does have my. I like to do stuff in a community gym, I have quite a few great grandchildren and I haven't been able to spend any time with my really any time with my great grandchildren because they're busy and, you know, inside play. They're young. So I like to be able to take them downstairs, to the community room and into the patio where they have more room. And I don't have to worry about anybody getting hurt. And, you know, cleaning up a big mess. We just all clean up together. I miss that. And I'll be, I'm looking forward to just having the grandkids over for cake and ice cream or anything. Just some kind of activities together.


Kristin Davenport [00:08:16] Well, that sounds good. That sounds good. Well, Leesha, t's been so good to talk with you today. Thanks. Thanks so much for joining us.


Leesha Johnson [00:08:23] All right. Thank you very much, Kristin. Enjoy the rest of your day.


Bryan Reynolds [00:08:35] Well, that was a really nice interview with Leesha Johnson, Kristin. It was good to hear that Leesha is looking forward to participating in some activities there, I know, in a socially distance way. But, you know, we're all learning to live with this. And to do these things safely. So glad to hear that there's some things going on at our affordable living communities once again.


Kristin Davenport [00:09:00] You bet, Bryan, and it's very uplifting to hear how the residents are continuing to stay positive. And they're finding new ways to stay connected with each other and with their families. And with that, let's hear from our president and CEO Laura Lamb, who spoke with Bryan this week about what's happening around all of our communities.


Bryan Reynolds [00:09:28] So we're back this week with president and CEO Laura Lamb how are you, Laura?


Laura Lamb [00:09:33] I'm doing well, Bryan. How about you?


Bryan Reynolds [00:09:35] Good. Good. It's a nice crisp morning and fall is in the air. So enjoying that.


Laura Lamb [00:09:44] It sure is. I have to go out and feed the birds. They were all waiting for me this morning. Looking, standing around like, "what's going on? Fill the bird feeder. Come on."


Bryan Reynolds [00:09:56] You know, there's never a shortage of things to talk about, and I know last week we did some discussions or had some discussions about visitation in it, and there's been even more news this week. So I thought we'd revisit some of them. The newest information that you've shared, and that's come out from our governors and CDC. So I want to wonder if you could update us on, I guess, the visitation down at ECH.


Laura Lamb [00:10:27] Yeah, well, that's the first headline. So I'm so excited to be able to announce that because our amazing maintenance staff built the structures that we're able to safely offer outdoor visits to our residents and families at ECHstarting this week. And you can imagine the thrill of the families as we sent out the link to sign up. And the staff are excited. The residents are excited. And we just, you just know that we're gonna have some some wonderful moments this week.


Bryan Reynolds [00:11:04] And then on top of that, there's been some new guidelines in information coming out of the governors and the CDC, or not CDC. CMS about about indoor visits. I wonder if you could kind of should share that news and how that impacts our communities.


Laura Lamb [00:11:29] Sure. So I think the last time we talked, I was telling you that there was like a disconnect between what CMS, the federal government Center for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government was doing at compared to the states. And I was think I said that there was some movement that we were starting to see. Well, last week we they really did a good job, both Ohio and Kentucky. And really what what we wanted as a provider is just clarity. Right. It's really difficult to have guidelines that are in conflict with each other. And we have to go with the strictest guidelines just to make sure that we're protecting our residents. So it's hard when there's disagreement. So both Ohio and Kentucky have issued new guidance this last week. We're still looking for some clarification on some issues. But the overall good news is that Ohio and Kentucky are moving towards being aligned with the CMS guidelines. So we'll have clarity. We'll have clarity on what the guidelines are.


Laura Lamb [00:12:36] Now, I have to say the guidelines for indoor visits aren't too terribly different than the guidelines for outdoor visits. It's really, I think, a recognition that it's getting crisper. Like you just said, when I went out for the bird feeder, it was like, oh, this feels refreshing. Yeah. So it's more of a transition. So we know we can't have outdoor visits in November with elders. Right. That that's not going to make a lot of sense. So how can we move from outdoor visits to indoor visits safely? So the criteria is the same or similar with very few nuances. The first one is take a look at your surrounding communities. How many times have we talked about that? What happens in Hamilton County or Jefferson County? Absolutely has an impact on our nursing homes, right? Absolutely. So that's number one.


Laura Lamb [00:13:29] Number two, take a look at how many cases you've had, both residents and staff in your community, in your nursing home. In your personal care. Your residential care. Within your retirement community.


Bryan Reynolds [00:13:42] Right.


Laura Lamb [00:13:42] And that is the one that's a little different. It gives us a very specific threshold of 14 days to look at. Have you had a case in the last 14 days? And if you have had a case, then outdoor or indoor visits are not advised. So we really have to pay attention to that. That routine testing that we're doing with our residents and staff to make sure that we don't have positive cases, asymptomatic people that are unbeknownst to them running around with Covid. So that's the second criteria that the rest of the criteria are things like do you have proper staffing? Do you have proper PPE? Does your local hospitals have capacity so that if there was a surge in the community that your elders could receive a hospital bed? So that's the criteria. We shared it with the families in Ohio. The first day that you're allowed to have indoor visits would be October 12th. So we're really working towards that where the team is taking all the nuances of what kind of room it has to be and what kind of training do you have to give the families. They're working on all those additional guidelines that we have to have in place. But I am very, very optimistic that the team is working on this diligently and we will be prepared for indoor visits around that date. The only thing that would stop that would be a positive case in any one of our communities at this point. Obviously, Hamilton County and Jefferson County are like in the proper zones. So I guess I shouldn't say that's the only thing. If the counties go up, we would have to revisit it as well.


Bryan Reynolds [00:15:24] Right. So as are our neighborhoods and areas, you know, it's Covid goes up or and or down, so. Right. So does typically are retirement communities. And so there may be some ebb and flow, I guess, is what you're saying.


Laura Lamb [00:15:39] Absolutely. Absolutely. We look at both for sure. But how exciting is that going to be? Because, you know, we don't want to go into the late fall and the winter not being able to see our loved ones so we can you know, the governor is often quoted as saying we can do things twice. And I love that are two things at the same time. And you know to me that means, how can we figure out how to be safe? Bryan also allow our families to see each other. I'll be different. We know that it's not the same. Yeah, but I don't know Bryan I was able to participate or be present during some of the family visits this weekend. And, boy, it's just it's it's wonderful to see families being reunited.


Bryan Reynolds [00:16:30] Yeah, I bet. I bet. And I think, you know, something you said last week and when your letters stood out that, you know, we've learned, you know, how to learn how to kind of live with this. And we've we've collected a lot of data and we can always do better and learn more and adjust.


Laura Lamb [00:16:47] Well, and the key message is, you know, there's those principles that people are tired of hearing me say, wear your masks and your distance. Wash your hands. Stay home with you're sick. Those are just they're based in science. And that's what's gonna get us through this. That's going to get us through this.


Bryan Reynolds [00:17:06] Well, thank you for that update, Laura. And I thought, you know, for our next part of the update, we we do kind of go back in and talk about some of the really interesting things that are happening in our community, some of the uplifting things that we've talked so much about, how our staff has done such a great job to prevent and provide opportunities for enrichment. Some even some joy. And I know you've shared some stories with our staff. And I was wondering if you could share some of those with our listeners this week as well.


Laura Lamb [00:17:39] Sure. It just, you know, pivot is a great word. Our life enrichment staff and affordable living and our retirement communities, they are just some of the most creative people you'd ever want to meet. And they're not going to let a silly thing like a pandemic, you know, stop them from making sure that they're engaging and providing opportunities for, you know, life enriching activities for our elders. So a couple, though, the one that I just really like is the first one is Debbie McClain at Marjorie P. Lee and the life enrichment team. We saw a video Bryan. I think, you know, you were on that e-mail group that saw this video of another community kind of doing something which we thought was really cool. You know, having an ice cream truck that went around their community internally.


Bryan Reynolds [00:18:33] Right.


Laura Lamb [00:18:33] Debbie saw that. And she was so inspired. And, you know, it did a yes hand and said I could do that and do a little bit more. So she partner with the maintenance staff and the dining staff and they took a electro electric scooter and made an ice cream truck out of cardboard. And Debbie was inside the ice cream truck and drove around our hallways with a horn knocking on every door and delivering ice cream. Loved it. I just loved it.


Laura Lamb [00:19:14] So not only is it the tree, but it's just the little bit of fun. And nolstagia right? Who doesn't remember that the sound of the ice cream truck and seeing the kids run run to the front of the tune. So that was exciting. The other thing, the other one that we did is, you know, it's fall my favorite time of the year. And I don't know about you, but I always think about apple and apple picking and stuff in the fall. And our our team down at ECH decided that we needed to start from start to finish. Have an apple day. So the residents on Woodcock participated in some amazing fun making, taking apples and making apple strudel with it. And then from beginning to end, and the end means devouring the apple stroudal. So they had a great time.


Bryan Reynolds [00:20:08] Oh, that sounds so good.


Laura Lamb [00:20:10] Doesn't it? Make your. I mean, I'm hungry now.


Bryan Reynolds [00:20:14] Absolutely. You know, fall is that time for apple cider. All things apple lately. Absolutely.


Laura Lamb [00:20:21] And then I guess just a little teaser. Some of this things that the staff are working on is having like an outdoor movie night. So stay tuned to that. So going to be more coming at our campuses about outdoor movies this fall.


Bryan Reynolds [00:20:37] Well, that that sounds so fun. And thank you so much again for joining us this week and providing us updates. And, you know, if the news keeps coming out, there'll be quite a bit to keep sharing.


Laura Lamb [00:20:52] So I don't have a doubt of that Bryan.


Bryan Reynolds [00:20:57] It seems like there's no shortage of things to talk about.


Laura Lamb [00:21:01] Well, always good to be with you. Bryan.


Bryan Reynolds [00:21:04] All right. We'll catch up next week.


Laura Lamb [00:21:05] All right. Thank you.


Kristin Davenport [00:21:15] Bryan, it is always reassuring, as a staff member of ERS to hear just how things are being handled by our leadership team directives coming from CMS. This week was a big change for us. And we know that we'll we'll we'll continue to handle that as well as we can and move forward.


Bryan Reynolds [00:21:37] Yeah, we're certainly learning a lot from both the national and state levels, as Laura discussed. And certainly some progress is made and kind of, as we mentioned earlier, about affordable living, learning to live with the virus and, you know, how we can kind of expand our activities and opportunities. You know that that's happening in our retirement communities as well.


Bryan Reynolds [00:22:01] So so with that, I think it's time to close up this episode of the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services for more information about us. You can visit our Web site at We have a lot of great content on our Web site, including our Linkage on line blog resources to learn more about aging and the services we offer and so much more. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to see what's going on with MERS and within our communities. If you have any questions or feedback for us, please e-mail us at Linkage podcast is produced by Kristin Davenport and Bryan Reynolds. Feoshia Davis is our associate producer, our technical director as Michelle Hoehn. I'd like to thank our guests today, including Leesha Johnson and of course, Laura Lamb, for coming on weekly to give her updates on behalf of myself. Bryan Reynolds and Kristin Davenport, thank you so much for joining us. We look forward to our podcast next week. Thanks so much, Kristin.


[00:23:04] You bet, Bryan. Looking forward to talk then.


Kristin Davenport
September 30, 2020
Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS after a 25-year career as a visual journalist and creative director in Cincinnati. Kristin is passionate about making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city. She is a Lead SAIDO Learning Supporter and a member of the ‘Refresh Your Soul’ conference planning team at ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex, live in Lebanon, Ohio with their 2 daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the President of the Lebanon Food Pantry and is a board member for ArtScape Lebanon.

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