In the early days of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, there were numerous concerns that communal living spaces were not prepared for the dangers to come. But for Federation Housing, which took an early and proactive response to the crisis, it has proven just the opposite.
Federation Housing provides affordable living communities for more than 1,500 older adults (ages 62 and older) at 11 locations throughout Greater Philadelphia. The organization is unique in the extensive support services it provides to residents, including meals, transportation, on-site social workers and a broad array of social, recreational and intergenerational enrichment programs. That also made the response to COVID-19 even more challenging.
“We simply took an immediate and proactive step to curtail all community programs and settings in our building,” explained Eric Naftulin, the executive director and CEO of Federation Housing. “We did not hesitate in taking immediate steps to not allow residents to come together, no matter how difficult that would prove to be. And I think this played a major role in preventing the growth and spread of the virus in our buildings.”
Federation Housing’s quick actions indeed proved effective: At all 11 properties, there have only been three cases of the coronavirus, two of which were a husband and wife. Those affected were immediately transferred to a local hospital, where they are recovering well, and a third-party cleaning company was brought in to sanitize and disinfect all surfaces to keep a lid on the growth.
With all residents confined to their apartments, the centers became a vastly different kind of place for those that live and work there. Every Federation Housing center is usually bursting with activities — from communal congregant meals to programs and exercise classes with Golden Slipper Gems to bingo games and art classes. To ensure his residents had access to food and continued to be connected to their community, Naftulin knew they would need to get creative, and get some help.