Throughout this spring, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Americans live.
Shelter in place, stay-athome and social distancing are all phrases that have served as a way of life for people during this time. People now wear masks and gloves to the supermarket, they disinfect, they sanitize, and they do their best to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
At Saint Francis Commons in Scranton, where 28 United States veterans currently reside, several precautionary steps have been taken to help ensure the safety of its residents.
“We’re deep-cleaning the facility twice a day,” Ryan Pollock, program supervisor at Saint Francis Commons, said. “We’re cleaning all hard surfaces with industrial antibacterial cleaners, which have been provided to us by our property management company. We do it morning and night on all hard surfaces, on all of the staff desks, and on any common traffic areas. That includes the kitchens, the door handles, elevators, handrails, tables, chairs, everything.”
Saint Francis Commons is a transitional housing facility for veterans which is operated by Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton. The facility opened in 2015 and has 30 beds.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, all residents have also been provided with face masks, which they are asked to wear whenever they are in commonly shared areas of the facility. Each resident also has their temperature taken, using a forehead thermometer, by a staff member on every first and second shift. The results are then properly logged to help ensure that the health of all residents is properly monitored.
“Knock on wood, but we haven’t had anyone running a temperature in the last month,” Pollock said. “We had a veteran running a temperature about five weeks ago, and we did quarantine him, but it ended up being the result of another aliment. He got an antibiotic and it cleared up. Thankfully, it wasn’t COVID-19.”
Pollock said that Saint Francis Commons has also modified the way it accepts new residents. Though it will still allow new residents to come to the facility, they must first be tested for COVID-19 or be coming from another facility at which medical professionals have determined that they are non-symptomatic of COVID-19. “It’s a case-by-case basis,” Pollock added.
“We’re not taking people off the street right now unless they agree to be quarantined for 14 days. We do have residents that have compromised immune systems and respiratory systems and are on oxygen. We’re doing everything we can to protect them.” Pollock said that once it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic was something that Daniel Grogan, AmeriCorps peer support specialist at Saint Francis Commons, left, and Ryan Pollock, program supervisor, Saint Francis Commons, right, have taken extra sanitary precautions to protect veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo/Alan K. Stout) would require heightened precautions, Saint Francis Commons acted quickly.
“It was March 13,” he explained. “We immediately said there were no more visitors. We stopped everyone from coming into the facility. Even the mailman and FedEx driver have not been inside. We meet them at the door. Normally, our residents can have visitors in the common areas, anytime from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., but those privileges were suspended on March 13. Generally, all of our residents are also eligible for up to three overnight passes per month, where they can go and stay with their children or family. Those services were also suspended on March 13, so nobody has been staying outside of the facility.”
Pollock said he is proud of how the Saint Francis Commons community has come together during the crisis. In addition to staff and cleaning professionals, residents have also assisted with keeping the facility safe.
“A lot of people have gone the extra mile,” he added. “The staff and the residents are really trying to keep the place sanitized.”