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Message from E. DeAnn Eaton, CEO

Posted on April 16, 2020

To the Residents and Staff of La Vida Llena:

I was recently asked if I’ve ever experienced a challenge like COVID-19 in my 25+ years working with La Vida Llena and Haverland Carter Lifestyle Group. I have not. Nothing in my three decades in the healthcare industry compares to what our residents and staff has faced over the past month.

As a wife and mother, a businesswoman and someone who feels deeply responsible for each of La Vida Llena’s over 430 residents and some 300+ employees, I want to reassure you that our staff is doing everything possible to keep every person connected to this organization as safe as we can. In times like these, I am reminded ever more keenly about our shared humanity and how important it is to see each day as a precious gift. Please know that all of you are in my thoughts and prayers each day.

To date, ten medically fragile residents in the La Vida Llena healthcare center, each with serious underlying health concerns, have passed away after testing positive for COVID-19. Words can barely describe our sadness at such a loss of life brought on by an invisible enemy we’re fighting with everything at our disposal. To everyone so deeply impacted by this wretched virus, please know that you are never far from our hearts. Each day we come to work, it’s with a strong resolve to protect every life we can protect and to keep every LVL resident as healthy and safe as possible under unprecedented circumstances.

Let me update you on where things stand as of the close of business April 15, 2020:

  • Currently, 16 residents of La Vida Llena who have tested positive for COVID-19 are being cared for around-the-clock in an isolated area of our healthcare unit. Experienced caregivers – together with support, guidance and staffing assistance from the state Department of Health – are taking comprehensive measures to treat these residents who are of advanced age with underlying health conditions.
  • La Vida Llena has another 435 residents living apart from these patients in our campus’ independent living, assisted living, memory care and healthcare units. Nearly all residents have tested been tested for COVID-19. A single resident tested positive and has been isolated and is receiving the best available care.
  • All La Vida Llena residents have been urged to self-isolate in keeping with directives from the state and the Centers for Disease Control. All residents are receiving services like meal and mail delivery meant to make these living conditions safer and less stressful. Our Life Enrichment team continues to ramp up services like virtual entertainment, online shopping, and education offerings to keep quality of life high.
  • To date, 28 of La Vida Llena’s nearly 300+ employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Each of these employees is currently at home recovering under quarantine. Each team member and their loved ones are in our thoughts constantly. We look forward to their full recovery and return to work when that can be safely accomplished.

You will continue to hear from us frequently as we work to keep everyone safe. If you have loved ones in one of our facilities, please rest assured that this outbreak appears to have been kept under control and isolated to La Vida Llena healthcare center. Updates will continue to be posted online and distributed to residents.

To all our residents: Thank you for your understanding and your commitment to living safely amid such uncertainty and inconvenience. If there’s something you need, please let Linda Givens or Laura Broeker know and we will be there for you.

And to all LVL staff members: Thank you for your courage and commitment to living up to our mission each day. I stand in awe at the long hours you’ve worked, the fear you’ve withstood and the giving hearts displayed by each of you time and again. If this last month has been an unprecedented challenge, please understand that it has also been a privilege to be a part of such a group of caring, compassionate human beings. Thank you for all you do.

Just as we care about the health of every resident and every employee of La Vida Llena, we also care about the soul. The Rev. Mark Goodman, our Corporate Director of Community Development, has been an incredible resource for our residents and our team throughout this crisis. Below you’ll find his thoughts on the challenges we’ve faced.

Recently, as I was sharing with my wife about how much this present crisis is weighing on my heart and mind, she asked me a question.

“What would your grandparents say to you, if they were here?”

It was an excellent question, for my grandparents lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Spanish Flu. They were also people of deep faith. I know what they would have said to me: “God is with you even in the darkest of times.”

My heart is heavy just now. I think about the suffering the coronavirus is causing around the world, in our country, in New Mexico, in Albuquerque, and at La Vida Llena, and I grieve. It pains me to be separated from my family, and I know that you, too, are hurting, because you are separated from your loved ones. As a priest, I believe that death is not the end of existence, and yet I’m sorrowful at those dear souls we have lost in recent weeks, particularly those whose families could not say good-bye.

In the midst of the suffering, though, there are also stories of hope and heroism. The doctors, nurses, emergency responders, and all the health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic, including the staff at La Vida Llena, who continue their work faithfully so that you can remain at home and safe, are all heroes in my book. There are so many stories, too, of neighbors caring for one another.

For all who are reading this, I want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I want to say to you, “God is with you even in the darkest of times.” Look for moments of beauty each day. Be kind. Be well.

Mark has captured what many of us are experiencing within our organization and outside it. Just as he has, I have spent hours over the past month praying for and thinking about our residents, our employees and the impact of the pandemic. Over the years, I’ve celebrated special events with you and mourned the passing of residents with you. I have and will continue to pray for each of you. Yes, I’m a wife and a mother, but I’m also a CEO striving to get our community through this really difficult time. Please, let’s work together, be tolerant of each other, and be flexible in response to the many changes this crisis has caused for all of us.

Better times will surely come. Please stay safe and take care of yourself and your family. We will talk again soon.