Stubblefield: Prioritize caring for vulnerable



It is said that a society can be judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable.

Guest Writer

Fee Stubblefield is the founder of The Springs Living, a senior living company based in McMinnville. He launched the enterprise in 1996 with the aim of developing a retirement community where his grandmother would feel comfortable as she faced the challenges of aging. It has grown to encompass 13 senior living communities in Oregon and five in Montana, offering a full range of care options. Married with three children, he is immediate past chair of the Oregon Health Care Association.

Since this pandemic first hit Oregon — and the first nursing facility, the Oregon State Veterans’ Home in Lebanon — our most vulnerable have been at risk from the ravages of COVID-19.

The virus preys on people with underlying health conditions, and spreads most easily indoors. Many times, someone is contagious, but doesn’t even know it because he or she is asymptomatic.

As a senior care provider headquartered in McMinnville — The Springs Living, caring formore than 2,000 older adults in Oregon and Montana — we have been on the front lines of the worst global pandemic since 1918. We have watched families and caregivers experience tragic loss and heartbreak these past six months.

Without support from the CARES Act, many senior care providers would be closing their doors. However, we are finding ways to beat back this virus, and together, we will win our battle against this invisible enemy. 

After we defeat COVID-19 and history reflects on who the heroes were, it will celebrate the strength, tenacity, dedication and compassion of those on the front lines — the caregivers. Here are some statistics that highlight the work of these compassionate warriors.

— The Springs Living has tested more than 85% of its residents with less than a 1.5% positive infection rate. 

— Overall in Oregon, approximately 4% of residents in nursing facilities have tested positive, compared to 10% nationally.

— Approximately 88% of Oregon's 670 long-term care settings haven't experienced a positive case of COVID-19 in a single resident or staff member.

— Oregon has the 8th fewest cases and 4th fewest deaths from COVID-19 per 1,000 nursing facility residents in the nation.

I am proud to work in a profession where all of us — providers, vendors, agencies and public health officers have banded together to protect our most vulnerable.

Providers have invested significantly in personal protection equipment, virus testing, enhanced cleaning and other prevention practices. They have also taken care of their employees. 

They are leading the effort to employ innovative approaches, such as surface testing, to provide an early warning system. And they are working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Panasonic to test new air monitoring and cleaning systems.

COVID-19 is spurring innovation amongst scientists and senior care providers to harness technology that will combat this and other viruses, including norovirus and the flu.

Fighting these biological threats is not only our challenge, though.

Our residents and their families have made tremendous sacrifices by adapting to new practices and restrictions, particularly limits on visits from loved ones. This secondary impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and overall wellness of our seniors is proving equally challenging.

We have been providing virtual visits. We are now able to offer outdoor visits between family members.

One thing is clear. The new normal for seniors cannot mean enduring social isolation.

Despite many challenges, Oregon is doing better than the vast majority of states. But we need more resources, including more rapid testing capability and  more stable and affordable PPE supplies.

Meanwhile, we are continuing to learn, improve and develop strategies to keep our residents and staff healthy and their spirits lifted. As a society, we must prioritize support for our most vulnerable, as they are most at risk from this virus.

In closing, I want to thank all of those who are helping protect older adults by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.




The challenges faced by caregivers during the global pandemic has been especially taxing on both them and their charges. As we have seen so many outbreaks in our senior housing/care centers, it is imperative that we follow the guidelines issued to protect our health and the health of those that are our most vulnerable treasures. Thanks to all who have served to help others when so many of us were retreating into isolation.

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable