For more than 50 years it's been known as Shady Oaks Assisted Living, but these days staff members at this Bristol nursing home are calling it “the bubble.”
“The flood levels are rising to the nursing homes in our town now,” Tyson Francis Belanger said.
Two and a half weeks ago, owner Belanger asked his 50 employees one by one if they were up for a COVID-19 call of duty, to live at the nursing home and ride out the pandemic with residents. Eighteen of them agreed.
“It’s hardship work no joke it is hardship work our staff is working 60 to 80 hours a week now and they can’t go home,” Belanger said.
Belanger believes that check-points at nursing homes are not enough, and keeping health care workers contained from potential outside exposure will help keep his 37 residents COVID-19 negative.
“As an appreciation and incentive I offered my own money I put my own money forward to pay a bonus to our staff,” Belanger said.
Each week Belanger is paying $70,000 from his own personal savings to his staff workers like Faith Brouker.
“I have left my husband and my daughter and I also have an elderly mom at home that I help take care of,” Brouker said.
Brouker and other fellow staff members are now living in these furnished campers outside the nursing home’s property 24/7.
“I got into healthcare for that reason to help others,” Brouker said.
Brouker says she’s keeping connected through phone calls and texts with her family.
“It’s about saving all senior homes this isn’t just about my home this is in a feel-good story we really need to change what we’re doing and we need to change it quick,” Belanger said.
Belanger says the remainder of his staff is furloughed and he is continuing to pay those staff members in full. Belanger says his staff is committed to his nursing home’s cause until at least May 17, a plan he says is the only way nursing homes can keep safe and is calling on the government to make money available for other nursing homes to be able to do the same.