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Frontline heroes

Brookridge Heights staff members Darian Prince, left, and Samantha Koski display their Yooper strength during one of their shifts. The facility is conducting staff events such as meals and dress up days to boost morale and spirits and to also thank them for their commitment during this pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Brookridge Heights)

MARQUETTE — During an uncertain time, a new hero has arisen; a hero whoíis working on the frontlines of the pandemic. There are the medical heroes, the police and fire department heroes and then there are heroes who continue to serve the older generation in nursing homes and assisted living communities.

At Brookridge Heights in Marquette, staff are continuing that heroism, staying committed to residents and officials want to acknowledge their sacrifices during this time.

“The staff of Brookridge Heights continuously amazes me with their dedication and commitment to our residents and their quality of care,î” Executive Director Jennifer Huetter of Brookridge Heights said.

“During this time, we have many staff appreciation events, such as meals and goodies for staff and fun dress up days to boost morale and spirits during this trying time. In addition to that, Brookridge has posted a banner on our building thanking our ‘Brookridge Heroes’ for all the work they are doing.î

“Though safety measures have been put in place and group activities have been eliminated to comply with social distancing guidelines, resident care is the number one priority,” Huetter said.

Staff members Jessica Bouford, John Nolan, Merri Willis, Tara Runion, Emilee Gauthier and Alexandria McNally stand with homemade fabric masks made by Masks for Marquette. (Photo courtesy of Brookridge Heights)

That priority comes with extra precautions including wearing masks to protect residents, a strict screening process that includes a temperature check on staff twice per shift and conducting temperature checks and measuring blood oxygen three times a day, she said. Brookridge Heightsí staff is supportive of these additional protective steps to keep everyone safe, she added.

Homemade fabric masks — provided by Masks for Marquette — were also distributed to staff so they can use them after-hours when going into a public place such as a grocery store, Huetter continued.

Several groups and individuals have helped staff and residents during this time with delivery of food and snacks and donations of personal protection equipment, such as Marquette Area Public Schools supplying face shields.

The community’s generous support and Yooper strong spirit inspires staff to continue doing their jobs, she said.

“The spirit is very positive. As I said previously, our staff is simply amazing. They are dedicated to our residents and while the precautions we have in place may be time consuming, our staff is appreciative of the measures we have taken to keep them safe and to help protect our residents,”î Huetter said.

Though Brookridge is on limited activity, activity professionals are still keeping things moving with one-one-one activities that provide interaction and engagement for residents, she noted.

Technology apps such as Zoom and other social media platforms allow for residents to stay connected with their family members, she added.

“Our staff is the backbone of the Brookridge Heights community,î” she said. “They are a great group of individuals and we are honored to have them here caring for our residents. Our employees deserve the recognition for the work they do each day.î”

Hospital workers, nurses, first responders, nursing home and assisted living employees are the heroes on the frontlines of COVID-19, and there are several more doing their part, keeping communities safe and running with their dedication and commitment, Huetter added.

Jackie Jahfetson can be contacted at

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