SOMERSET – After the COVID-19 pandemic ended the Patriot’s plans for National Skilled Nursing Week last year, staff wanted to make a splash this spring.
And for Rob Berlingo, administrator of Somerset Nursing Home and Special Care Facility, that ‘splash’ was an eight-inch pan of whipped cream in the face on Wednesday.
âAll for a good cause,â he said with a smile, moments after a pie pan filled with filling collapsed on the side of his face.
Berlingo and two other directors of Affinity Health Services, who operate The Patriot, volunteered for The Patriot’s inaugural ‘Pie a Boss’ fundraiser, donning disposable gowns and glasses to sit in front of a team of hour-long pie shooting.
Staff paid $ 1 per pie to take a photo of Berlingo, Jim Brady, interim director of nursing, or Bryan Hagerich, senior vice president of operations – an event that sparked as much laughter as it was successful, said dietician Rachel Appleman.
âIt’s been tough for everyone over the past year with (COVID-19) and all of the restrictions,â Appleman said.
For months, residents were separated from their families and staff had to work long days under layers of precautions to try to slow the spread of the virus in the halls of the Patriot.
âSo having the chance to be together and relax a bit is really nice,â Appleman said.
The chance to throw her boss a pie was the icing on the cake, she added.
Michelle Younkin, chief marketing officer, said she and a few colleagues came up with the idea after deciding to incorporate a fundraiser into this week’s events. Profits go to a fund created by Affinity to help employees when they go through tough times, like a sudden family loss, she said.
Under the common theme âTogether through the seasonsâ, health centers across the region celebrated this week.
LaurelWood Care Center in Upper Yoder Township surprised staff with a scavenger hunt on Tuesday, according to the 120-bed nursing home’s Facebook page. The Arbutus Park retirement community has served a Johnstown classic in their kitchen: Coney Island hot dogs.
At the Patriot, residents were treated to seasonal themed meals, including an outdoor barbecue, Younkin said.
And Hagerich said events also came at a time when state guidelines relaxed for Pennsylvania nursing homes, once again allowing in-person family visits and group activities – albeit with precautions.
âNational Nursing Home Week has been around for as long as I can remember, but it’s a little more special this year,â Hagerich said, adding that he was happy to see the guidelines slowly return to normal. âWe’re just thrilled to bring people together and share smiles again. “