BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - As we all adjust to our new normal amid the spread of COVID-19, staff and residents at Autumn Lake Healthcare at Berkeley Heights are making the most of their current situation.  On March 10th the facility decided to temporarily close their doors to outside visitors to protect the health and safety of the residents. Since that announcement, the staff has scrambled to find ways for residents to connect with their loved ones, while support and positivity from the community has been flooding in.

Autumn Lake was immediately faced with the struggle of keeping family members in touch with their loved ones.  The facility immediately ordered iPads so that the staff could help residents connect with the people who are missing them the most.  Cathy Balsamo, Autumn Lake’s Concierge and Community Liaison, laughed as she shared, “yesterday, I was running from room to room, dialing, connecting and then running to the next room to help the next resident.”  

Inside the walls of Autumn Lake, it is ‘business as usual’ but Balsamo felt that the Facetiming simply wasn’t enough to prove that everything is actually alright, “I was up all night wracking my brain trying to figure out what I can do so that people know that their loved ones are truly okay.  So, today I pulled out our dry erase board and asked residents to write a message, took photos and shared them. The photos have been so well received on social media and it was so much fun doing it,” shared Balsamo.

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Residents and staff have received cards, hand-made pictures, flowers, cases of Girl Scout Cookies, and a sheet cake provided by a local volunteer group, ‘Senior Buddies’ for a birthday celebration.  “I am extremely grateful for the overwhelming support from the Berkeley Heights Community. It has given us all, our residents and staff the ability to keep positive and upbeat during this time,” said Ben Basch, Administrator of Autumn Lake.

Balsamo agreed, “I am so incredibly touched and honored to be a part of this amazing town filled with so much love and support. You all have made a somewhat unsettling situation so much better. I’m proud to call Berkeley Heights my home”.

If you would like to mail a letter to the residents or staff at Autumn Lake Healthcare at Berkeley Heights their address is: 35 Cottage Street Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922.  They also have a bin outside of their main doors for drop offs.