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160 Simsbury Road, West Hartford, CT 06117


Keeping our Residents Safe

Guarding the Greatest Generation in Perilous Times

As seen in a recent Shabbat message from one of our partners, The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford.

Image: SummerWood resident Arnold Helfand celebrates his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Ask anyone at Hoffman SummerWood why they work here, and you will hear virtually the same answer: “I love working with seniors; ensuring their health and happiness is incredibly fulfilling.” Little did we know the key role this passion would play as an essential ingredient in fortifying our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before COVID-19, Hoffman SummerWood offered no shortage of activities. Residents enjoyed performances at The Bushnell, attending lectures at local colleges, swimming at the Mandell JCC, grabbing lunch downtown – or simply sitting in our lobby, playing cards by the fireplace.

The pandemic put all these activities on hold. Suddenly, we had more questions than answers: How would we keep our vulnerable residents active and engaged while confined to their apartments? How could we make the intense shift toward virtual programing and religious services? What could we do to increase our internet strength and cellular services now that they had become a lifeline to the larger community — and more importantly, to residents’ family members? These were only a few of the questions we were trying to answer as quickly as possible. 

We needed to swiftly redesign nearly everything to accommodate this strange new world. We revamped safety protocols, established new regulations, and completely shifted our programming and daily activities:

  • We welcomed visitors with temperature checks, augmented our regular guest book with a COVID-19 questionnaire, instituted hourly reminders about masks and social distancing, and welcomed Shabbat with weekly COVID-19 tests. 
  • From early March through September, staff delivered meals to residents' rooms instead of everyone gathering in the dining room. Residents and their families also enjoyed visits and meals outdoors, on benches and our lovely landscaped patio featuring a brand new, Federation-sponsored Jessie's Community Garden.
  • We brought in musicians to safely serenade cooped-up residents.
  • We redesigned many activities for individual or virtual participation. Together, residents and staff learned the Zoom technology that allowed us to adapt and thrive.

Finally, after months of transitions and changes, the moment we had waited for —longed for, dreamt about — arrived: The vaccine was ready to administer to our residents! On Tuesday, January 12, Hoffman SummerWood residents received the first dose of the vaccine. It felt like a birthday party. Residents enthusiastically rolled up their sleeves to be receive this miracle of science. It truly marked the rebirth of hope.

SummerWood resident Arnold Helfand will turn 101 on February 5th. He reflected on his enthusiasm about the shot: “I want to see my grandchildren — and my great-grandchildren — but more than that, I want them to see me.”  

All of our planning, discussion, and reimagining has helped to provide the greatest generation with a safe, fulfilling life during this historic pandemic. And soon our resilient community will begin a return to normalcy.


Above: Hoffman SummerWood resident Arnold Helfand celebrates his first COVID-19 shot. Photo courtesy of Hoffman SummerWood.


Hoffman SummerWood Resident since 2017 enthusiastically rolls up his sleeve to recieve his first Covid-19 vaccine dose by local CVS pharmacist - along anticipated moment. January 12th, 2021. 

Hoffman SummerWood resident since 2014 shows her enthusiasm for having just recieved her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. January 12th, 2021. 

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