Regency seeks morale boost for staff following COVID cases

— Created November 25, 2020 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Several residents at Regency on Whidbey’s Memory Care Unit in Oak Harbor have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting a request that members of the community pitch in to provide small items to send encouragement to staff members at the facility.

The request came via an email from the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, asking for individually wrapped food items as well as notes of encouragement.

“The staff has been working 24/7,” said Community Relations Director for Regency on Whidbey, Teri Mendiola. “It’s been crazy and really, really stressful.”

COVID-19 tests have been administered to all staff and residents at both the assisted living and memory care facilities. According to Island County Public Health, there are 18 cases at the facility, the first one being confirmed Nov. 9.

Mendiola said staff members are screened daily at the beginning of each shift. She said so far the outbreak has impacted residents only – no staff members have tested positive. All staff are required to wear gowns, gloves, masks and face shields regularly when dealing with residents. Despite the precautions, in a letter posted on Facebook by Regency on Whidbey Nov. 20, it noted four residents in the Memory Care facility had tested positive for COVID-19.

Small, packaged treats would be a welcome boost to staff members who are working hard daily to care for residents and keep them safe, according to Mendiola.

“We’re doing everything we can,” she said. “It’s stressful, it’s tiring, but the staff is there for the residents and we’re very thankful for them.”

Suggested items for staff members include protein bars, cheese and cracker packs, peanuts, cheese sticks, water bottles, Gatorade. Any donated meals must be packaged individually, with disposable utensils. Letters and notes of encouragement or thinking of you cards are also welcome.

For residents, Mendiola said cards and notes are also welcome. The elderly and people with underlying health conditions are thought to be more susceptible to COVID-19, so many long term care facilities have limited indoor contact with residents, which in turn can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Any donations can be dropped off at the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce or at Regency’s assisted living facility at 1040 SW Kimball Drive, in Oak Harbor. Because there are three different shifts daily, Mendiola said they will do their best to distribute any items between all three.

Those with questions may contact Mendiola at or call 360-279-0933.

“This is a team effort and one way to tell them we care,” said Mendiola. “It makes a big difference. It’s motivational and inspirational. The staff is tired. Everybody’s concerned. We’re a small island, this is a small community. We love our residents and we’re here to take care of them. That’s our primary goal, to make sure everybody is safe and well taken care of.”

Like the rest of the state, the number of people infected with the COVID-19 virus has continued to rise recently. According to Island County Public Health, there have been 583 cases of COVID-19 as of press time Tuesday. That figure is up from 501 on Nov. 16.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued an executive order last week which has closed bars and restaurants for indoor dining, and has also shut down gyms and fitness centers, indoor movie theaters, bowling alleys and more. The governor is also urging people to stay home this Thanksgiving, prohibiting indoor social gatherings with people from outside one’s household and limiting outdoor gatherings to no more than five people from outside a household, to try to stop the spread of the virus.

As always, people are encouraged to wear a mask in public, keep at least six feet of distance from others and wash hands frequently.

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