COVID-19 Q&A: Pandemic operations at Good Samaritan Society

Leader Nate Schema is inspired by stories of how communities rally around sites

Nate Schema of the Good Samaritan Society sits in a chair across from Courtney Collen with Sanford Health News for a Facebook Live Q&A about operations during the pandemic

Leading operational efforts for the Good Samaritan Society‘s 24-state footprint during a pandemic is no easy feat.

With nearly 300 facilities and 18,000 employees, Nate Schema oversees everything including skilled nursing, assisted living, senior housing and home health.

WATCH: Good Samaritan VP Nate Schema talks operations amid pandemic on Facebook Live Q&A

“What continues to inspire me are the stories that come in across the organization and ways our communities are supporting our faculties and residents,” Schema said. Those have included acts like pizza deliveries, sending gift cards or showing up to decorate sidewalks with chalk art.

“We hear a lot about the heroes working in the hospitals. We’ve got heroes all over the Good Samaritan Society working day in and day out to take care of our residents. It’s been humbling to see the various ways our communities have rallied around them,” Schema said.

Safety, testing still a priority

The Good Samaritan Society added new safety measures early on including face masks, physical distancing, temperature checks, monitoring the health of its residents and restricting visitors.

At the same time, Schema’s team adheres to changing guidelines on the federal and state level.

Schema said the organization has taken a conservative, unabashed stance on testing because once the virus gets into a building, it can be difficult to get it out.

“If a resident is going to be admitted from the hospital or home, we want and need them tested. We won’t be admitting new people to a building with a positive COVID resident.”

When and where they can, based on state health regulations, they will conduct testing on all residents and employees.

Some of those states include West Virginia, New Mexico, Iowa and North Dakota.

“We’ve had residents and staff who were asymptomatic that tested positive,” Schema said. “To date, we’ve been really fortunate, because our personal protective equipment (PPE) and masking strategies, we’ve been able to isolate and contain it right away. That testing only helps us contain the virus because we know what we’re dealing with then.”

‘We will get through this’

The Good Samaritan Society is working to ease the anxiety many families are having about their loved ones during the pandemic.

“Your family becomes our family,” Schema said. “We’ll do everything we can to make sure loved ones are taken care of and protected.”

Plans are underway to navigate how to serve new individuals once again, the ability to receive essential or nonessential procedures and more.

“It’ll be a process that happens over time as community spread continues to die down,” he said.

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Posted In Community, Coronavirus, Expert Q&A, Senior Services

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