SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) —Stephen Bowman remembers recently sitting on a bed at a Peregrine Senior Living facility, listening to a resident recite poetry she had written in college. That was on a Friday. But three days later, the woman tested positive for COVID-19, and was hospitalized for a six-week isolation period. Since then, she hasn’t been able to communicate at all.
Bowman is the president of Peregrine Senior Living, a Syracuse-based company that operates senior living facilities around the northeast, including two in the Syracuse area. COVID-19 — particularly the recent surge caused by the Omicron variant — hit Peregrine hard this winter, Bowman said. Residents couldn’t frequently interact with family and friends, and the number of Peregrine residents has dropped over the past two years, causing the company to lose money. Roughly 10% of the company’s staff left due to the New York State vaccination mandate, too.
“COVID has been brutal in terms of the quality of life of our residents,” Bowman said. “They have been extremely isolated and depressed.”
Vaccination rates at most Peregrine facilities are close to 100%, executive Maria Bowman said. Getting residents and staff vaccinated has been a priority to Peregrine, both Maria and Stephen Bowman said.
“That has been literally a lifesaver for this population,” Maria Bowman said. “There’s always some exceptions, but for the most part, what [symptoms] we’ve seen in our buildings are very mild.”
Despite efforts to educate and incentivize staff members to get vaccinated, many still chose not to, said Maria Bowman, forcing Peregrine to find replacements for key roles like activity directors and frontline workers.
After not having any cases for a year, Peregrine felt a spike in late December, said Stephen Bowman, with some buildings seeing as many as 50% of its residents test positive.
For now, Peregrine is focused on staying vigilant with vaccinations and isolation policies in hopes that case numbers continue to drop.