After COVID-19 began to infiltrate assisted living facilities throughout Middle Tennessee, people have been working hard to promote joy and peace in a tense situation, particularly those in and around Fountains of Franklin.
Ricki Keckley, co-founder of the Fountains, last week announced that a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the senior living community to undergo a deep cleaning and mass testing. Today, staff members say everything is going well, and Gary Keckley, CEO and director of development, said the team is focusing on celebrating life.
Laurie Ross, community relations director at the Fountains, said that the staff is helping residents to spend time outside and in community within CDC regulations. Family members have visited loved ones from the yard as they wave from their porches and balconies. Residents also have the opportunity to choose word searches, magazines and crafts throughout the day.
Dean Haffner, a Fountains of Franklin resident, expressed his gratefulness for the activities and services at the center.
“We have room service every day, and I appreciate all the hard work and hours the staff are putting in for us,” he said. “I told my cousin all about it.”
Ross said they have also allowed the residents to stand in their doorways on a Sunday to sing hymns together from a distance.
“It was just a way to lift their spirits and help them know that God walks with them every day, and he never leaves us,” Ross said. “We just try to give them hope through the Scriptures and through the knowledge that we all love them, and we’re going to be there for them every minute of every day.”
In addition to the internal services available to the residents, people outside have found ways to support the residents and staff at the facility. Dara Danh, the owner of Koi Thai & Sushi, donated 100 meals to the center on Saturday.
“It was just wonderful,” Ross said. “The food was great, and it was unique and different, and I think it meant so much to know the community cares. Not just our Fountains family cares, but the Franklin community, the Williamson County community cares.”
Nearby neighbors also recently came together to hold a car parade for the residents. Participants decorated their cars with pictures and encouraging messages and drove by the facility, waving to the residents who sat outside to watch.
“I planned a parade because they’re all kind of isolated in their rooms,” said Amy, a neighbor and volunteer at the Fountains. “I just wanted to have everybody wave at them and smile at them and remind them that they are loved, not forgotten and that they matter.”
Ross said the parade brought smiles to the residents and brightened everyone’s day. Moving forward, she hopes the community continues to show love to the residents as they and the staff adjust to this new normal. As of now, she said staff members are doing their best to stay safe and offer calmness throughout the day.
“Like everyone, we look forward to the time when the threat of this virus decreases,” Gary Keckley said. “In the meantime, we will celebrate life in creative and rewarding ways, like the gift of dinner on Saturday night from Koi Restaurant. What a special occasion that we will always remember.”