Opinion: As schools open, we must remember all ages of population


Submitted Photo

Schwenkfeld Manor, in Towamencin Townshop (Pictured here) is one of many senior living centers in the NPSD.

Earlier this month, the North Penn School Board voted for all students in the district to be able to return to school, starting October 19th.  As we are learning to adjust and live with the pandemic around us, and businesses are opening, and students are returning to schools, I find it important that we remember some of the places that never closed. Once such category is senior care homes, which house some of the most vulnerable populations to covid-related deaths.  That story can be told by senior care centers around the planet. One local place where this fate did not occur is the Schwenckfeld Living Center in Lansdale, which houses 300 of the elderly within its facility, as the pandemic barely scathed the community.

“From day one, We have had a zero tolerance policy for visitors. We took this very seriously and put strict guidelines into effect for caregivers and residents to follow before COVID was even declared a problem,” said Ann Houck, a nurse who has worked at Schwenckfeld for 4 years.

Houck also stressed that “this is by no means a lockdown, residents are encouraged to walk around the area and talk amongst each other all the while wearing masks and social distancing”.  Morale among the staff and residents seems to be very high.

Omnia Elmoghazy, An Egyptian immigrant who has worked at Schwenckfeld for 2 years, also praises the safety precautions put into place immediately.  

“Without us, They wouldn’t be able to live good lives, or impact the lives of their relatives,” Elmoghazy said.  She acknowledges that “some of the caregivers are afraid, but we won’t stop until this is finished.”  The paranoia of a client passing due to the virus still hasnt left her mind since March.

As far as the residents of Schwenckfeld go, they also view the pandemic in their own unique ways as well. Joe Speece, who is 80 years old and has lived at the facility for 5 years, says that he has seen worse throughout his long life and this “little virus” doesn’t scare him. However, he went into detail about how residents felt lonely for a time, but are cheering up since Schwenckfeld allowed the residents to walk around the premises.  But the hope still goes strong for the residents.

As our nation continues to grapple with the pandemic and flu season, and as our focus turns to reopening businesses, public events, and schools, it is important to remember that all of our society and community is connected – among all age populations. While the aging population and nursing/retirement communities were a central part of our pandemic discussion in the earlier days of the virus, they need to remain part of our conversations as we head into the winter.