March 29, 2020
The COVID-19 coronavirus in March found its way into the Berman Commons assisted-living residence in Dunwoody operated by Jewish HomeLife.
Four residents of the Berman Commons memory unit tested positive on March 25 for the potentially deadly virus. A letter sent on March 29 to residents and their families reported that six employees had tested positive. The initial spread apparently came through contact with a staff worker in the memory care unit.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are locking down the entire community,” Jewish HomeLife spokeswoman Shari Bayer told the AJT. All residents in Berman Commons’ 32-unit memory-care wing and in the 58 assisted-living apartments were directed not to leave their apartments. Communal activities, such as meals, were suspended, as were visits with family members.
At the time, Harley Tabak, president and CEO of Jewish HomeLife, told the AJT: “This is an emotional time for all of us. We are doing everything in our power to bring the best medical expertise, testing and protective equipment to protect our most vulnerable population, to protect our staff who are on the front lines every day. We are not the first and will not be the last senior care community to face this crisis, and sincerely appreciate the community’s support in our efforts.”
In response, Berman Commons increased its cleaning protocols and required staff to use PPE (personal protective equipment) — such as N95 masks, gowns, gloves, and if necessary, facial shields — in caring for residents.
In time, the spread of COVID-19 at Berman Commons was slowed and reports of positive tests among residents and staff became more rare. By late June, Jewish HomeLife resumed what it called “in-person compassionate care visits” at Berman Commons, as well as The Cohen Home and The William Breman Jewish Home, allowing family members to visit residents under strict rules.