Caregivers caring for caregiversMay 03, 2022 03:01PM ● By Jan Weeks
When Becki Siemers left her job at La Villa Grande Care Center in Grand Junction for another position at Balfour Retirement Community in Louisville, Colorado, she didn’t dream she would soon be in the midst of one of the biggest disasters in the state. The licensed nursing home administrator had worked in the Grand Junction area for over 28 years, and in April 2021, she moved to the facility on the Front Range.
On December 30, 2021, the Marshall Fire swept across 6,000 acres, fueled by drought-dried vegetation and 100 mile-per-hour wind gusts. The Balfour community staff went into emergency mode, relocating residents as they watched the fire race closer. Assisted living residents were evacuated to a facility in Boulder, and those requiring skilled nursing care went to a facility in Arvada.
Fortunately, the Balfour building was spared, and residents and staff were able to return the next day. Both staff and residents were mentally and physically exhausted, and one employee, and several family members of others, lost everything to the fire.
La Villa Grande Administrator Lisa Smith and her staff reached out immediately, sending good wishes and prayers. Then, on March 14, 2022, a representative from La Villa Grande arrived in Louisville to make a surprise delivery for the staff and residents. A large treasure chest contained an envelope with gifts for each day of the week.
On Monday, residents received 100 Crumbl Cookies; on Tuesday, 200 tacos arrived from Taco Bell; Wednesday brought bagels, cream cheese, and coffee; Thursday’s St. Patrick’s Day full sheet cake was a sweet celebration; and Friday’s treat was Chinese food for the night shift crew.
A special letter and $500 worth of gift cards from Target, Visa and more helped a dishwasher who lost everything in the fire. Cards and letters of encouragement from the La Villa Grande residents cheered up everyone, as did Mardi Gras chocolate gold coins and colorful beads.
“The week was incredible and so healing for my Louisville staff that walked through fire for their residents,” said Siemers. “All health care workers have had a difficult past two years and are weary but the show of kindness from one weary team to another was far more healing than anything I have seen during this pandemic.”
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