Young leader takes reins during COVID-19 pandemic
“It’s very Prairie City-esque,” said Hanna Bass shortly after moving to Condon. “We used to have Murray’s Drug and a Select Market.”
Originally from Prairie City, Ms. Bass says that she felt at home when she arrived in Condon to take over as the Executive Director and Administrator at Summit Springs Village. “Everybody has been super welcoming.”
At just 27 years old, Ms. Bass’s job comes with considerable demands and pressures that few can relate to.
As retirement communities facedown one of the biggest challenges in the history of the industry due to COVID-19, Ms. Bass has kept the ship running smoothly and has worked to keep staff and residents safe.
There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Summit Springs Village, which is one of the largest employers in Gilliam County and a crucial part of the community.
Ms. Bass interviewed for the position as the Summit Springs Village Administrator on March 25, when the novel coronavirus was beginning to rapidly spread around the world and inside the U.S. The day before, Summit Springs locked down the facility, not allowing for visitors or outside activities. Just days later, on April 1, Ms. Bass took the reins at Summit Springs Village.
Receiving support from longtime stalwart Jonna Rattray, who had been working as acting administrator for several months, Ms. Bass transitioned into the role and worked to keep-up with the daily briefings and continually shifting rule changes from the State of Oregon. Hanna and Jonna Rattray participated in daily calls from the Oregon Health Authority and worked closely with the Unified Command of Wasco, Gilliam and Sherman counties. “Things were shifting weekly if not every few days,” Hanna said.
It was without a doubt a new era, even for those that had worked in retirement homes for many years. “The day I started, staff wore masks,” said Hanna. Coupled with new guidelines, Hanna brought many of the lessons she had learned over the years into the new job. Hanna worked quickly to make a preparedness plan. “What do we do if someone tested positive for COVID and what systems needed to be reassessed?”
Hanna moved quickly to make sure that staff and residents had access to hand hygiene and personal protective equipment. She began to work closely with Gilliam County Emergency Management Coordinator Chris Fitzsimmons, who “provided PPE immediately upon request.”
Having worked in retirement facilities for many years, Hanna came to Condon with a strong resume and history of serving aging populations in a variety of capacities.
Prior to coming to Summit Springs Village, Ms. Bass served as the Assistant Director at a facility in Pendleton for 5 years. Prior to that role, Hanna worked at a retirement community in John Day, where she helped people in the Memory Care division. Ms. Bass also served as Co-facilitator for the Alzheimer’s Association, a leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.
Ms. Bass says that the most challenging part of the job is that she has not able to meet families the way she would have liked to, with their loved ones that are in her charge. She also says that it has been hard to keep residents engaged and to give them the group activities that she had hoped to offer.
While Ms. Bass’s primary concern has been the wellbeing and safety of Summit Springs Village residents and staff, she brought many ideas and goals with her that she has been excited to experiment with and to implement. Ms. Bass believes that there are more ways for the community to get involved with those who reside there and hopes that grow residency at Summit Springs Village.
Hanna says that staff are encouraged to engage residents whenever there is extra time, since outside visitors have not been allowed into the facility for nearly four months.
Staff held a Mother’s Day Tea with residents and have worked to keep residents active and positive.
While the challenges of keeping residents and staff safe from a global pandemic are new, most other aspects of the job are familiar to Ms. Bass.
Earlier this spring, Ms. Bass said that there were 23 open units at Summit Springs Village. “I want Summit Springs to run like it used to,” she said. “I would love to see a letter writing campaign, pen pals. Bring musicians in to play. Music is a huge impact.”
Hanna Bass has big goals for the future of Summit Springs Village and dreams of offering residents new opportunities. For now, those dreams are on hold as more immediate needs are met.
“It’s hard right now,” she says. “All the ideas I have for engagement can’t be done right now but we’ll get there,” she said.
If you are interested in brightening the day of a resident at Summit Springs Village, please consider becoming a pen-pal. A small letter can really brighten someone’s day. Mail your letter to Summit Springs Village at PO Box 687 – Condon, OR 97823.