Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica Plain, MA

Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Reports More COVID-19 Deaths, Seeks Funding to Meet Crisis


JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass. – The Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (ANRC) on April 15 provided an update to its situation in the middle of the surge of COVID-19 in the Boston area. This month so far there have been 9 deaths connected to this virus at the center. Nursing homes in general in Massachusetts and elsewhere are experiencing rising numbers of deaths and difficulties in staffing.

Chief Executive Officer Stewart Goff in his informative and often times eloquent weekly report said that there were 11 deaths this month total, which is of course higher than the average of 2-7 monthly deaths prior to the advent of COVID-19.

ANRC stayed one step ahead of evolving guidelines by deciding to test all residents, even those who are asymptomatic, on April 7, while the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommended this approach on April 13. The tests were done by the National Guard on April 9. Of the 73 resident samples, 25 had symptoms on that date but 50 residents tested positive.

Goff wrote, “We are bewildered by this result. We have been so vigilant around any clinical changes in condition. Any identified clinical changes resulted in a transfer to the isolation suite, whether day or night.”

He added that all employees were checked for symptoms and temperature when entering the facility on all three shifts, but this has limited benefit because people could be asymptomatic while infected (as confirmed by the test results from the residents).

Fifteen employees were out with COVID-19, and almost all had positive test results, but two employees completed the quarantine period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and have returned to work fully recovered, Goff stated.

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While infection with the coronavirus is not a death sentence, Goff told family members of residents that “should the worst-case scenario unfold for your family member, please know the nurses are using whatever means they have at their disposal to comfort and reassure each resident nearing end of life. We are talking softly to them, supplementing oxygen, using medication to manage comfort and anxiety and working in full partnership with our physicians through this process. We treat your loved one as our own.”

FaceTime and Skype are being used to allow families to speak with and see their loved ones.

Difficulties to Be Met

The prior week, 8 employees quit work, largely from the laundry and housekeeping departments. Job duties were adjusted in response but if needed, Goff wrote, ANRC will contract an outside company to fulfill these needs. The nursing staff, on the other hand, remains strong and dedicated, so he said there should be no worry about staffing levels.

Appreciation expressed to the dedicated ANRC staff

Personal protective equipment is being conserved according to CDC guidelines and a group purchasing arrangement was reached this week through the Massachusetts Senior Care Association to secure the needed items for the next two months at the cost of $15,000.

This is a large expense, and ANRC would greatly appreciate donations to help with this situation. There already have been some donations of protective equipment or aid for purchase of equipment from the community, for which ANRC is thankful, as well as for meals for the workforce.

In his report, Goff concludes: “We are in a desperate situation. But we are invigorated by each other in this situation. We are invigorated by watching the way each member of the team rises to meet each new challenge. We are invigorated by the Armenian community support which seems to arrive just when we need it. We are committed and doing the very best we can for your loved one.”

For up-to-date reports, see the center’s Facebook page. Those who would like to help the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in this crisis period may send their checks to it at 431 Pond Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

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