Business Opportunity: Crisis Management Support and Resources
Cypress Glen, The Marshes of Skidaway Island
Cypress Glen, established in 1987, is a not-for-profit Life Plan Community located in Greenville, North Carolina. Owned and operated by The United Methodist Retirement Homes, Inc., they have partnered with Life Care Services, An LCS Company, since 2000.
The Marshes of Skidaway Island is a not-for-profit Life Plan Community located in Savannah, Georgia, and has partnered with Life Care Services since the community opened in 2006.
In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm, hit Savannah, Georgia and Greenville, North Carolina. At its peak, Hurricane Matthew had 160 mph winds. The storm lasted eight days and eventually made its way up the Atlantic coast. Hurricane Matthew resulted in wind damage, coastal flooding, inland flooding and was the cause of 48 deaths in the U.S. North Carolina flood damage is estimated to be $1.5 billion.
Because Cypress Glen and The Marshes at Skidaway Island are managed by Life Care Services, the executive directors were able to access invaluable support from the company and from its network of communities during the hurricane. Laurie Stallings, executive director at Cypress Glen, and Amanda Elliott, executive director at The Marshes, managed the crisis in different ways. Laurie and her staff chose to move to higher ground and shelter in place. Amanda and her team decided to relocate 275 miles away to the Atlanta area.
With Hurricane Floyd in 1999, we were on our own. In 2016, we were managed by Life Care Services and the company provided more support than we were able to access on our own. The difference is night and day.
Cypress Glen Executive Director
Each community managed by Life Care Services has plans in place for all types of natural disasters: tornado, hurricane, and flood, and conducts monthly training on a variety of safety topics. For communities
in areas where hurricanes are prevalent, community leadership begins reevaluating their hurricane preparedness in May, fine-tuning and adjusting their plans as necessary.
One benefit of having a broad network of support is they let the executive director focus on what the residents need to make sure they’re safe.
When the tropical storm became a named hurricane, Life Care Services held conference calls with leadership at all communities in the hurricane’s potential path, assessing needs and providing guidance and options for managing the crisis.
Communities were also supported CPS®, a group purchasing company in the LCS Family of Companies. Life Care Services coordinated calls twice daily until the storm passed and the communities were stabilized.
Communities also accessed the following resources:
- Best practices from other communities in the Life Care Services network
- Critical emergency check lists
- Resident Evacuation Handbook
- LCS Advantage™, an insurance program tailored to each community that can include evacuation insurance coverage, business interruption insurance, property insurance and more
As a storm neared, the LCS Family of Companies provided appropriate support. For Hurricane Matthew, it was important for the executive directors to remain focused on ensuring the residents and employees remained safe, healthy, and happy. Support included:
- Establishing a 24/7 hotline staffed by volunteers in the Des Moines-based home office to facilitate communication between the senior living communities and concerned family members. Seventy home office employees volunteered to staff the hotline for a total of nine days
- Sending email updates and posting real time updates on a central website to keep family members notified of their loved one’s safety
- Securing satellite phones to help ensure there was a line of communication as the East Coast lost power
- Helping communities in flood zones secure additional hospital beds to relocate residents to higher floors within their own community
This was my first time conducting an evacuation. While you’re trying to think of everything you have to be responsible for, having someone checking the detail is incredibly helpful.
Cypress Glen did not evacuate the entire senior living community, instead the community relocated residents to other areas of the community from areas that were at risk for flooding. Fifteen residents living in the health center were evacuated to a local skilled nursing rehab as a precaution. Over a thousand volunteers within the surrounding area helped fortify the residents’ homes, filling 23,000 sandbags to ward off flooding.
We’re in a flood zone, not a strike zone. We moved residents in low-lying areas to higher areas. One of the nicest things for me as an executive director is that I’m not making the decision alone. I know I have the support of good professional people.
The level of preparation both communities undertook had a positive impact on community morale, as well as an unexpected uptick in their marketing efforts.
Among the residents of Cypress Glen, Hurricane Matthew has become a “Were you here?” moment. And once word spread of how the community weathered the hurricane, they received several new resident inquiries.
At The Marshes of Skidaway Island, residents think of Hurricane Matthew as a vacation instead of an evacuation, and still talk about the fun they had. Area seniors have also joined The Marshes’ wait list because of how they handled the storm.
Within 24 hours, my director of operations management, Catherine Jenkins, was on site helping me. Her experience, trust and support were extremely helpful.
We serve our customers, first and foremost. It’s our first company principle; it is how we conduct business. During times of crises, we also remember our dedicated employees are balancing the responsibility for the safety and security of their own family members, too. It would be difficult for any individual to manage the details of a crisis without the support of many, many individuals throughout the entire organization and within the local communities. At Life Care Services, we are grateful for all who come together to serve those in need.
When you partner with Life Care Services, you’ll have a whole team of professionals and a network of colleagues to help your community in times of need.
Our residents were struck by how Jonathan Erickson, my regional operations manager, helped unload trucks and got residents homes set back up.