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. Of the 73 resident samples, 25 had symptoms 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 is ready to 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.

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.

According to Carolyn Goff, Stewart Goff’s wife who is volunteering to help at the ANRC, the center has a staff of 65.

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.”


Fundraising by Volunteers, AWWA

Nancy Barsamian is a volunteer advisor for the Armenian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA), which is the body tasked with raising funds to maintain the ANRC.

Barsamian, who has advised the group with their efforts at the Hanganank Clinic in Artsakh for seniors, formerly worked for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services throughout New England, is helping them raise awareness about help for their staff.

She and her fellow volunteer advisor, Laura Purutyan, want to raise $15,000, the amount that the ANRC had to spend on protective gear for the staff. They want the money to help feed the staff.

“We want to figure out how to help the staff. If people could donate to the website and earmark it to buy the staff boxed lunches and gift cards for grocery stores,” Barsamian said, that would be a great help.

Barsamian explained that it costs about $700 to feed the staff boxed lunches daily so that they don’t go out for their meals. Getting them separate food from the rest of the residents will also help the kitchen staff who has to do all the cooking.

“It gives the kitchen a break and gives the staff a nice meal,” Barsamian said.

“It’s really true that the nursing home industry was not prepared in any way,” Barsamian said. “It’s because they were not being tested. COVID is throughout the community and it is one of the things that is very difficult about this pandemic,” she noted.

Carolyn Goff said both Bertucci’s and Stoked Pizza have helped the center.

“It’s just amazing. People call to help,” she said, even when they don’t have a loved one at the center.

In addition, Barsamian said that she would love to see a member of the clergy take responsibility for the spiritual needs of the nursing home. Many different pastors from local churches visit the ANRC but especially now in the time of the pandemic, “We really need a clergy assigned to this facility,” someone who can coordinate the spiritual messages from local members of the clergy.

Barsamian will address the next telehealth program by the Armenian American Medical Association, scheduled for April 25 on elder care.

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., Add memo: support staff box meals

(Alin K. Gregorian contributed to this report.)


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