Saying Goodbye At Charles Morris

December 17, 2020

Last month, JAA announced the necessity to close our beloved Charles Morris Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, the end an era for this 115-year skilled nursing facility.

We care deeply for the residents we serve and the staff who care for them.  The decision to close Charles Morris was an extremely painful one. 

With the closure confirmed and scheduled for January 12, 2021, JAA is now working with residents and their families during this difficult transition.

Some Charles Morris residents are able to stay within JAA’s continuum of care, others have elected to go home with additional support, and some are transferring to other nursing homes or care facilities.

Only the nursing home is affected.  All of other JAA residential and community services remain fully operational.

As a 5-star, long-term  skilled nursing   community, Charles Morris leaves behind a legacy of love, honor, and respect for the thousands of elderly who entrusted us with their care.

Now we must build on this legacy and plan for the future. We face many challenging realities of these uncertain times. Yet we work to meet the changing needs of our community while we plan and expand our services. 

Difficult decisions like this are necessary now to preserve the excellent care that JAA will continue to offer to thousands of older adults for decades to come.

In every respect, this is a very sad goodbye.

Saying Goodbye

By Sharyn Rubin

Saying goodbye was never one of my strong suits.  I never liked the finality of bidding farewell to someone I cared for, even if they were moving to Hawaii to take their dream job.  Graduations and retirements were events I contributed to but rarely attended.  I live in the present and I am not fond of change.

So imagine the flood of emotions that have been unleashed as we prepare to send off our beloved residents living at Charles Morris Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. That the facility is emptying out after more than 110 years is devastating to me (although I can get why it needs to close) and the fact that some 50 of our long term residents are being “transitioned” to other nursing homes gives me a constant pang in my stomach. 

My colleagues, the social workers, the nurses and the therapists, all have been walking around as though we have lost our best friends.  In many ways, we have. 

These “patients” are family; we know what time they like to get up in the morning; what they take in their coffee.  We know what channel they want to watch and whether they take ketchup on their hot dogs.   We know their children, their grandchildren, and often, their great-grandchildren. We celebrate births and milestones and birthdays and we commiserate when they are feeling out of sorts. We recognize a change in their medical condition, often before the doctor confirms it. 

For the last nine months, we have been the eyes and ears of their biological families, since neither spouses nor adult children could visit.  We consoled worried sons and daughters and alleviated some of their fears by offering FaceTime opportunities or window visits behind plexiglass.  How humiliating to watch a husband of 60 years having to wave at his beloved wife suffering from dementia through a pane of glass.  Never did we minimize the pain and suffering that COVID was extracting upon those loved ones, in or out of Charles Morris.  We felt their pain and we shared their sorrow.   It has been so difficult all the way around.

The final blow is felt now as we pack up the belongings of our folks and send them off to new places. 

We worry that the new home will not understand that Sarah needs just a tad bit of extra TLC, but she will participate in all activities with a smile.  How can we know that Joe will be treated to that early cup of lemon tea before he gets out of bed for the day?   Will they remember that Marion loves music and that Ben thrives on ESPN and his daily New York Times?  Will someone play checkers with Jack or poker with Sandy?

These are the people we cared for and about and letting go is not easy.  With each departure, we find ourselves walking a little slower.  Perhaps there is no need to hurry now.   The call lights are fewer; the breakfast trays are dwindling. It is no longer Mary’s room or Phyllis’ room…it just the empty room at the end of the hall.

Charles Morris, you have been an amazing institution.  You have been called many things in your day, not always the most positive, but no one, not a soul, can say that the staff that were assembled as you closed your doors didn’t even give you a backward glance.  Even I, who hates to say good bye, will forever be looking in my rear view mirror to make sure that all who were under our roof are doing okay, G-d willing, even better under new “management.” 

It has been an amazing adventure and I will forever cherish the memories, the friendships, the love that was exchanged.  I, for one, have been blessed to be part of this experience. 

As much as it pains me to say it, “Goodbye, Charles Morris.  May your memory be a blessing!”