By Hank Tester

POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) – John Knox Village, described as “all-inclusive resort living,” is a continuing care facility for seniors. It has a hefty entrance fee, but residents say it’s well worth it in the time of COVID.

“It makes me feel safe and that’s what I hear most of the residents say – feeling safe, being protected from something that could be just terrible,” said resident Nancy Lee Matthews.

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With the resources and preplanning, staffers met the pandemic head on. Meals were delivered to those living independently.

“We made sure we prepared meals for delivery,” explained John Knox Village marketing officer Monica McAfee. “We turned in 30 minutes our ability to serve 1,000 people food to 30 minutes to do home delivery.”

On top of that, the staff was equipped to handle possible COVID cases.

“We have an identified COVID area, which essentially is only two rooms we have not needed it,” said Mark Rayner, who is with John Knox Village’s healthcare services. “We took a few rehab guests that had recovered from COVID.”

Rayner also pointed out that John Knox Village was also “the first community in the national to receive the vaccinations December 16th.”

Not everyone got the early shots, but 600 skilled nursing staff and residents in assisted living did. Many independent living residents have now been vaccinated.

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“The day I got my vaccine I went home and called Holland America and booked a three-month trip on the spot,” said resident Janet Anding.

The constant issue with all retirement homes and ALFs is loneliness, particularly the lack of contact with loved ones. It was an issue at John Knox Village, just like anywhere else.

“It has been a challenge to not have the families, the visitors and the volunteers,” said Rayner. “That’s a big piece of our model, complete involvement. But we have gotten through it.”

Visits are now allowed, but with strict ground rules. Appointment must be scheduled and all involved must wear personal protection equipment. Still, for many, that’s a lot better than FaceTime, Zoom meetings and the telephone.

“I was schedule for eight and half months of cruise traveling, not county land trips,” said Anding. “In 2020, all of that was by the wayside.”

So what to do while landlocked at John Knox Village?

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“I started writing a book, which was amazing. I started exercising more and more,” said Anding. “I read like crazy, but this year I know I have read over 150 books in a year.”