Dining Server & Receptionist | The Willows at Worcester
Rayna McGrath was a full-time student and dining server at The Willows at Worcester when news of the COVID-19 pandemic started to emerge. As things became increasingly more serious, especially as a staff member in a health and retirement community, McGrath took on a new role to help the team: reception. Her schedule quickly became packed—school until 12:00 PM, helping at reception until 3:00 PM and then working in the kitchen until 8:00 PM.
In McGrath’s words, she did so much because she has “never felt more comfortable with, and thankful for, an organization before.” She adds, “SALMON Health and Retirement took initiative right away when news of COVID-19 first occurred; their quick actions made me feel so much better.”
McGrath recalls CEO Matt Salmon and Executive Director Andy Freilich appeared on The Willows at Worcester’s broadcast station to consistently update staff members on COVID news, staffing concerns, new building guidelines and more. “Their communication helped so much,” says McGrath. “SALMON also sent text messages and emails every day, and even created a staff landing page to make sure all employees were informed; I loved it.”
Not only was consistent communication a major factor that kept McGrath “comfortable” at The Willows during COVID, but the ways in which “everyone worked together and helped each other” were also important.
One of McGrath’s favorite COVID routines was the ability for staff members to sit together, while remaining socially distant, and discuss each week; discussions were focused on what was going on, how everyone felt and creating plans in place to make sure everyone was comfortable. “Our executive director, Andy, passed out candy to staff members each week; my supervisor, Alicia Saade, made sure we all had great lunches, and most importantly, everyone talked to each other to be sure the other person was okay and comfortable.”
Consistent communication translated outside of The Willows as well: “Family members would call the front desk frequently just to thank me and other staff members for everything we were doing; it was such a comfort knowing we were helping our Residents and their families and friends,” says McGrath.
“Of course, it was stressful at first, and still can be,” admits McGrath, “but it’s the group of people that I work with that make all the difference and continue to reassure and comfort me.”