Staff move into Hyde Park retirement facility to support residents

CHICAGO -- The novel coronavirus is affecting people of all ages, but the risks are particularly high among seniors. One Hyde Park retirement home's employees are making personal sacrifices to ease residents' concerns during these uncertain times - they moved into the facility to keep residents safe and calm and to be able to provide care around the clock.

"We felt it was important to be here for them 24 hours a day," said Paul Zappoli, the chief operating officer of Hyde Park's Montgomery Place. "How do you not be there with them when they're experiencing this crazy thing outside of the walls?"

Zappoli said seven to 10 of his staff stay overnight up to four nights a week. In addition to providing care, the staff has been showing residents how to use technology like Zoom and FaceTime to keep in touch with their families and friends.

"It's the perfect way to kind of keep them going in their day-to-day," Zappoli said. "Keeping them connected is very, very important."

Meanwhile, the staff members who stay overnight are away from their own loved ones.

"We had that tough conversation with our loved ones explaining to them that is this something that we need to do to be at the place where we work and be able to keep the residents safe," Zappoli said. "All of us have really embraced it. Sleeping on (an) air mattress is not that comfortable, but at the same time, when there is an emergency, it's important that one of us is here."

Zappoli said the staff will continue to support residents no matter what.

"We're creating a home in a very big building," he said. "As long as there's a stay-home order, there will be someone on site 24 hours a day."