ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Nursing homes are still protecting staff from COVID-19 even as the pandemic becomes less of a public threat. Few have done it better than the Jewish Home of Rochester.

A COVID-19 test and temperature check are just a couple of the precautions Rosie Downey has to take to see her aunt there.

“We really don’t worry about it at all," said Downey. "We just follow the rules and she’s definitely safe.”

Her aunt, Sylvia Moukous, is 91 and has been in the center’s memory care unit for a year.

“I think it’s been great," said Downey. "We do not have one complaint, she gets excellent care.”

And Rosie’s confidence in the center only continues to grow, now that the Jewish Home has received the region’s first WELL Health Safety Rating from the International WELL Building Institute for steps the senior home has taken to “address a post-COVID” world.

“It’s amazing, I think it’s well-deserved," Downey said. "Absolutely. I’m not surprised, let me put it that way. I’m not surprised.”

Travis Masonis with Jewish Senior Life says after the regulatory scrutiny nursing homes faced during the height of COVID-19, it was important they showed it was an issue they took seriously. 

“We spent about eight months or so on this project, just to reassure our families, our residents and our employees that we have a strong dedication to keeping them safe, and making sure everyone’s well-being is taken into account here continuously," Masonis said.

Even before the pandemic, resident spaces were converted to private rooms. And then during the pandemic, Jewish Senior Life implemented a program that uses UV light to sanitize rooms and personal items. 

But moving out of the pandemic, the home used the IWBI certification to codify 16 of the organization’s 20 health and wellness strategies. 

“To make sure that we’re always doing the right thing in regards to sanitization, with regards to keeping our residents safe, with regards to keeping our employees safe," Masonis said. "And really, it’s a blueprint moving into the future whether it’s COVID-19 or something else.”

Rosie believes with all the changes, the hard-working staff should also be thanked. 

“It definitely will keep her safe, because like I said it hasn’t been a problem," Downey said. "Probably just community recognition. I would hope the staff to get something – for them to get recognized.”

She hopes her aunt will continue to flourish at Jewish Senior Life.

“I think the comfort level of having your family in someplace you trust and don’t have to worry about," Downey said. "So it is nice, as opposed to them... when you know they can’t live alone anymore.”