The Friends Village at Woodstown COVID-19 Response team is made up of administrators, directors, facility personnel, registered and licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants who selflessly created a safe haven during one of the most challenging times in our organization’s history. The unexpected storm hit in early March when we were forced to suspend visitors and cancel resident activities.  We had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at that point, but this would not be the case for much longer.  Knowing that the novel Coronavirus was on it is way to us, our team put a COVID-19 Response plan into motion, with guidance from the State of NJ Department of Health and Salem County local health officials.

Within thirteen days, this team converted our office and storage wing into a 12-bed COVID-19 isolation wing so that we could accommodate South Jersey seniors who were contracting the virus.  We opened the doors of the isolation wing on April 15th and have been treating COVID patients ever since.  A team of nurses, certified nursing assistants, and a member of our facility team volunteered to exclusively work with COVID-positive seniors, a noble act that reduced the chance of virus transmission to our other residents and staff members.  These staff members have families and loved ones, which triggers fears of their own, yet they continue to help our patients who need their kindness as much as the critical medical care.

In addition to our COVID-19 Response medical team members, our administration has also been committed to the safety of every staff member as weekly COVID-19 testing was put into place in May.  Every Monday, each staff member and resident is tested for COVID-19 to ensure the safety of all who are connected to Friends Village at Woodstown.  This commitment comes at a high financial cost for a nonprofit that could never have predicted what 2020 has brought us.

I am nominating our entire COVID-19 Response Team as a Heart of Salem County Hero for their altruism that is enriching and saving lives during the most significant public health crisis of our time.