During what is commonly known as an ‘
time,’ the team at GreenFields of Geneva senior living community has been
service to its residents. As a Life Plan Community, GreenFields offers
independent living, assisted living, memory care, short and long-term
rehabilitation, and skilled nursing, all under the one roof of its beautiful
26-acre landscaped campus in Mill Creek.
In-House Streaming and Broadcasting
While the GreenFields team has been extremely vigilant about keeping residents
safe and healthy during the pandemic, they’ve also been dedicated to ensuring
the residents remain active and engaged.
“The residents at GreenFields are accustomed to being busy,” said Karen Tomko,
life enrichment manager for independent living. So, while the activities
calendars started to look different during COVID-19, they remained full and
engaging. The creative and innovative teams successfully provided
opportunities for the residents to
busy. This has featured programming on the in-house television station all
day, every day, including exercise classes, games, movies, and continuing
As restrictions have begun lifting, activities, classes and entertainment are
provided for limited numbers of residents in-person. They are also then
broadcasted/streamed for residents within their apartments.
Pony Express Pen Pal Program
GreenFields’ Pony Express Pen Pal Program matched residents with volunteer pen
pals throughout the area. Looking for ways during the stay-at-home order for
residents to stay engaged, Karen reached out for volunteers using Facebook.
Thirty-six individuals/families (many from Mill Creek) promptly signed up,
with more than 15 joining in. Families sent the letters, and sometimes gifts,
for Karen to deliver, pony-express style, to their apartments. The reverse was
done with the letters that the residents write back. Many of the pen
pals are still connected and enjoying their intergenerational
The Pony Express Pel Pal Program was featured on CBS News.
They snapped their fingers, swung their hips, and boogied. Sporting bright
yellow concert T-shirts, residents of GreenFields enjoyed great music and
beautiful weather as they listened to live entertainment, strategically placed
around the perimeter of their campus.
In their very own Lallapaloosa-styled event, musicians wearing tuxedos playing
classical music and show tunes, an Elvis look-alike leading a band in classic
rock, and every genre in-between, performed along the grounds of the property.
Residents sat, or in many cases, danced, in the warm sunshine of their
balconies or through their open windows.
“For the first six weeks of the shelter-in-place mandate, we’ve been by
ourselves in our apartments, but together in this community. Rather than
social distancing, we’re calling the Balcony Bash our social solidarity tour,”
The 2020 Balcony Bash was featured on WGN News.
While the restriction of visitors during the pandemic has been very difficult
for residents who miss their loved ones outside of the community, it has been
instrumental in keeping them safe. Staff, in the meantime, has worked out
creative ways for the residents to stay in touch with their families. This is
particularly true (and important) for residents of Willows Assisted Living,
Reflections Memory Support, and Briarwood Healthcare Center at
Virtual visits have been facilitated by staff in residents’ rooms via Zoom,
FaceTime, and Skype, and when practical, through windows.
When nice weather has prevailed, their Family Fridays program gave residents
the chance to meet face-to-face at an appropriate social distance outdoors.
Julie Jug, life enrichment manager for Willows, Reflections, and Briarwood,
schedules each resident for a 15-minute visit in the GreenFields parking lot,
with as many as three carloads of family members. The visits have been
exciting, joyous, and touching. “Moments like these make my heart explode,”
Residents at GreenFields are accustomed to wining and dining in the finest
style at their five-star quality restaurant. Because during the stay-at-home
order, residents were unable to come to Savanna Restaurant, the staff brought
Savanna fare to them. The ‘room service’ was provided by the dining team that
the residents know and love. While residents missed the opportunity to
socialize with their friends during mealtime, they felt safe and thankful that
all their needs were provided for, without them having to leave
As restrictions have lifted, residents are able to go in limited numbers to
the restaurant, or can still have take-out in their apartments.