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Couple Finds a Safe Port During the Storm of COVID-19 at Maplewood’s Winchester Gardens

A senior couple embracing.

For Marylyn Masia, the decision to move in March from the home in Summit that she and her husband had lived in for more than 50 years to Winchester Gardens — a senior living community in Maplewood — wasn’t an easy one. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic kicked into high gear.

“After much consideration, we decided on Winchester Gardens because of its location, its beautiful buildings and grounds and its levels of care,” said Masia of the continuing care community. “It’s a good feeling to know the long-term care services are there when and if you need it.”

Located on 37 acres, Winchester Gardens is part of the Springpoint Senior Living family of CCRC or Life Plan communities, the region’s leading nonprofit provider of senior housing and services. The historic jewel of a facility, whose Great Hall was designed by renowned architect John Russell Pope and grounds landscaped by the legendary Olmsted Brothers of Central Park renown, has been modernized to include contemporary living spaces and state-of-the-art health care.

Finding a Home During Difficult Times

Whether it’s the many wellness opportunities afforded by the fitness center and LivWell program, kicking back with a book in the well-stocked library or strolling along the beautifully landscaped grounds during nice weather, residents find countless ways to fill their days and live the lifestyle they’ve always enjoyed. Plus, Maplewood itself is a charming town full of dining, shopping and entertainment venues. It’s easily walkable, and is within proximity to public transportation so you can enjoy a day in New York City.

Despite moving in at a time when the community had to restrict access to all its usual amenities, Masia said she and her husband have already grown to love their new home. “Here we felt safe — and that was incredible,” said Masia, who was a health teacher and a school nurse in a large high school before she retired. “We also have meals delivered right to our door and the food is good.”

As stay-at-home measures were put in place earlier this year, the community at Winchester Gardens came together to look out and care for each other. Overnight, employees transformed into heroes, finding innovative ways to furnish residents with needed goods and services, while keeping everyone safe and healthy. The community TV channel provided residents with updates from the leadership team and residents and staff telephoned to check in on neighbors and spread positivity to each other in ways big and small.

To keep residents engaged and active, staff broadcast a variety of concerts, musical entertainment and lectures as well as yoga, meditation and fitness classes on the community’s in-house TV channel. Some community members joined virtual brain fitness classes via Zoom while others headed outdoors and, while practicing safe social distancing, enjoyed the beautiful walking paths or played singles golf. To help residents purchase essentials without having to go to the local grocery store, Winchester Gardens staff opened the Marketplace at the Stonewall Café. Similar to a convenience store, the market sells a variety of grocery items and personal products residents can easily grab and go.

As for the health and safety rules that staff and residents had to follow during the pandemic, Masia said, “There were no secrets here — it was very much talked about and explained. We followed the rules and stayed home, but our new home is so beautiful, we were happy to stay there.”

As part of the Springpoint network of communities, all responses to the challenges posed by COVID-19 at Winchester Gardens have been guided by a dedicated health care team, with combined years of medical expertise, in compliance with federal, state and local health officials. Some measures imposed include:

  • Employees must complete daily wellness checks, including having their temperature taken. Any employee who tests positive or shows symptoms must follow strict protocols regarding quarantine and re-testing before returning to work.
  • Contact tracing is in place to notify employees or residents who have had potential exposure and provide guidance on required protocols.
  • All visitors must complete a wellness screening questionnaire and have their temperature taken prior to their visit.
  • All employees and visitors are required to wear masks while in the community.
  • The communities are cleaned regularly and high-touch areas are disinfected with greater frequency. Hand sanitizer is available throughout the communities for visitors and employees.
  • Proper social distancing of 6 feet or more is practiced.
  • Employees and residents are regularly educated on proper hygiene and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

You’ll Never Be Bored at Winchester Gardens

According to Masia, her children have expressed “tremendous relief” that their parents made the move to Winchester Gardens. “They’re not the only ones who are grateful,” she said. “There are very lovely people here and we’ve made a lot of new friends in spite of having limited access, so that’s exciting.”

To learn more about Winchester Garden’s all-inclusive senior lifestyle, schedule a visit to experience a day at one of New Jersey’s premier continuing care retirement communities.

Resources to help you make your move.

Winchester gardens outdoor path in daytime

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