New York City - 05/04/2021 — MOOSIC, PA. – It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in the healthcare industry, from more relaxed retirement centers to more advanced facilities that deal with memory care issues like Alzheimer’s and dementia. By the time it was discovered that the virus targeted the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, many health care facilities had already been infected and facing an uncertain future. What followed was more than a year of inflated death totals, quarantines, unanswered questions and overall confusion.
Oakwood Terrace, a 58-bed personal care home in Moosic, Penn., was hit especially hard in the early days of the pandemic. The community experienced some challenges related to COVID-19 during the initial wave of the pandemic from March to June 2020. The stretch was particularly difficult for the center because it had recently come under new management by Premier Senior Living, LLC (PSL), a New York-based health care group.
According to Michael Semian, executive director at Oakwood Terrace, PSL took over the 25-year-old community in March 2020 and immediately began to implement an enhanced directive to deal with the pandemic. At the time, Oakwood Terrace was at about 75 percent capacity, but heightened health care restrictions did not allow for new admissions until June.
The First Wave
The first order of business for PSL employees following the purchase of Oakwood Terrace in March 2020 was to stockpile personal protective equipment (PPEs). This included items like masks, shields, gloves and hand sanitizer.
“Our goal was to have a 30-day supply for every employee, every shift,” Semian said. While he did deal with “a rough patch” that included “some price gouging” during the onset of the pandemic, Semian said gathering PPEs went smoothly.
“My OCD kicked in,” Semian said with a laugh. “But the ultimate goal was to gain trust and show that we’re safe and secure here.”
Other measures implemented to deal with the onslaught of the virus included limiting visitors, social distancing and providing in-room dining and activities rather than gathering in groups. Oakwood Terrace also eliminated triple-up rooms, opting for only singles and doubles that are larger and provide more space.
Semian said another positive step was to have Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) available on all shifts for the first time ever.
As a result of Semian and his team’s efforts, Oakwood Terrace saw its last confirmed positive test for COVID-19 more than a year ago – in April 2020.
“It’s hard to believe that we’ve gone an entire year already without a confirmed case,” Semian said.
The Second Wave
Because of the immediate efforts of Semian and staff at Oakwood Terrace, the community was able to reopen for admissions in June 2020. The first challenge faced by the team was informing the public that the community was safe despite an ongoing public narrative at the time that health care facilities were unsafe and overrun with ill patients.
“We had to let people know that their loved ones with memory care deficiencies were better off here than at home,” Semian said. “We took great care and thoughtfulness into everything we did.”
According to Semian, it all boils down to the type of care his patients need. Facilities with more active patients have amenities like putting greens and swimming pools that can be difficult to use and still practice social distancing.
“My residents enjoy simpler pleasures like getting their hair and nails done,” he said. “It allows us to focus on good, clean comfortable care.”
Even though Oakwood Terrace did not experience any confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 after April 2020, the community was still forced to stop accepting patients in October 2020 as a second wave of the virus hit. The community was not able to resume accepting patients until Easter Weekend 2021.
Looking Back One Year Later
It’s now been more than a year since a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Oakwood Terrace, but Semian and his staff are not letting up. Semian credits PSL’s commitment to staff as a major reason for the community’s continued success.
“[PSL] provides great benefits and an excellent starting wage, so we were able to bring in staff quickly and select from the cream of the crop,” he said. “It has allowed us to continue to provide good care.”
PSL Director of Marketing Sheri Steele praised Semian’s leadership effort and management skills during the start of the pandemic for helping keep Oakwood Terrace operational during the crisis.
“He basically moved in and stayed with the residents at the height of the crisis," said Steele. “He always had the attitude that he was the least important person in the building.”
Semian has decades of experience in the healthcare industry. He is a past President of the American Heart Association and has also worked with the American Cancer Society and Santa for Soldiers. He has earned his Certificate in Gerontology and is a trained dementia practitioner with years of experience dealing with Alzheimer’s patients.
Like many who choose health care as a profession, Semian saw a need for improved health care after his grandmother was placed in a subpar community years ago. It was then he quickly realized that small comforts can often make a big difference.
“I just remember her complaining that she couldn’t get stewed tomatoes with her mac and cheese, which she loved,” Semian said. “So, the next time I visited, I brought some stewed tomatoes for her meal. It was a small gesture, but it made a world of difference for her.”
Oakwood Terrace Now Accepting Residents
Semian said Oakwood Terrace is currently at about 60 percent capacity, with 33 residents occupying the community’s 58 beds. Oakwood Terrace has a nice selection of private and semi-private rooms available for residents.
To learn more about Oakwood Terrace or to tour the property, call the community at (570) 451-3171. Oakwood Terrace is located at 400 Gleason Drive in Moosic. Moosic is a quiet, picturesque town just outside of Scranton. The state-of-the-art gated community provides safety, security, and peace of mind for residents and their families.
Oakwood Terrace offers private and companion apartments with cable TV, free Wi-Fi, fire and smoke detection and suppression systems, security cameras and an emergency call system. All utilities except for long distance calling are included.
At Oakwood Terrace, residents receive three restaurant-style meals served daily.
Daily life at Oakwood Terrace allows residents to enjoy a home and family-like setting where good neighbors become good friends, Semian said. Residents enjoy interacting socially as well as participating in daily activities with proper safety measures and social distancing.
About Premier Senior Living, LLC
Premier Senior Living, LLC, is a senior housing owner and operator with headquarters in New York City. The privately owned company began with a single assisted living community in New York. Today, Premier and its affiliated companies provide a spectrum of senior housing services including independent living, assisted living and dementia/memory care.
Steele said PSL has been successful in acquiring both high-end stabilized properties as well as troubled properties, improving their operations and creating value. PSL operates in markets with extremely favorable demographic trends and a preference for seniors to either age-in-place or come back home via a reverse migration.
Media Contacts:Company Name: Premier Senior Living LLC