By Lynne Katzmann
2021 is not a year I particularly want to repeat, and it ended with fireworks. On the last day of the year, Juniper Village at Louisville, Colorado, was in the path of that incredibly fast-moving, devastating wildfire near Boulder. Our team did an incredible job of saving every life by evacuating the community. Fortunately, the fire stopped just across the street from the community. I have so much gratitude for the team.
Coming into 2022, omicron has provided us with another hurdle to overcome before we can jump into some new innovations for 2022. The good news is, or appears to be, that it’s so prevalent that in three or four weeks’ time, the majority of us, particularly those who have some protection from vaccines or earlier infection, will be fine. But getting from here to there is going to be interesting. Here is what we are seeing and thinking about today:
- The next few weeks are going to be incredibly challenging in terms of staffing. As people come down with omicron, it’s going to be more and more difficult to staff in a way that looks anything close to normal. Being fully vaccinated helps tremendously, but we remain concerned with breakthrough infection.
- COVID has left some lasting and I hope not indelible marks on people. I think omicron will have some short-term direct impact, but I think the longer-term impact is emotional and psychological. We were fully vaccinated. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, they named omicron. And here we are six weeks later, and we had over a million cases that were identified in the U.S. yesterday.
We have two initiatives that we are currently working on to address the staffing problem.
- We have hired a new associate to coordinate the digital recruitment process from our home office. They have already made a significant impact by improving our job postings and “speed to lead,” believing the first organization to make contact with an applicant will have a better chance of hiring them.
- We have begun to look at how we can create a new program that would offer early retirees, who have important skills and knowledge, part-time positions with flexible scheduling and payment options. There are so many things that can be done in just about any department.
The pace of change continues to be very rapid, and it has accelerated during COVID. We are continuing to creatively think about how we can continue to innovate, looking for better and more creative solutions, and at the same time keep people safe and cared for.
Our goal remains the same — to foster active bodies, engaged minds, and fulfilled spirits.