The Village of St. Edward, enjoying a culture of creativity, peace and joy amidst Covid-19

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In addition to fabulous activities and events (safely distanced, of course) for residents, amenities at The Village of St. Edward include a salon, fitness center, four charming courtyards, a 24-hour personal emergency pendant system and nurse on duty, weekly housekeeping, weekly laundry of linens, room service if needed and chauffeured transportation to doctor appointments and shopping. Pictured L-R: Beth Cook and Briana Cantrell at the Fairlawn location. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Patricia Nugent

Keeping families connected to their loved ones living in senior care facilities during the pandemic has been a daunting task. But the caring and creative staff at The Village of St. Edward has risen to the challenge.

“We find a lot of fun ideas on Pinterest for keeping things fresh, such as building a lemonade stand out of a metal cart,” says Briana Cantrell, who is Director of Resident Life at the Fairlawn location.

Founded in 1964, the Fairlawn campus has evolved over the years to include facilities for independent living, as well as an array of options for supported and assisted living, including a rehabilitation and nursing center for round-the-clock care and memory care units.

Pictured L-R: Rose Baldwin and Melissa Strainer at the Green location

Locations in Green and Wadsworth, which opened last year, offer rustic, home-like accommodations for independent and assisted living, as well as memory care.

When the virus hit, and residents had to remain in their suites, Briana and Beth Cook, Resident Life Coordinator, and Melissa Strainer, Director of Resident Life at the Green location, came up with ingenious ways to connect residents to family by overseeing virtual visits on Skype and FaceTime.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve done our best to spread joy to our residents,” says Briana. “We celebrated a 70-year wedding anniversary with a steak meal from Ken Stewart’s. We also celebrated two of our residents who turned 100. Flowers, cards and cake for the woman, and, as a surprise, we hired an opera singer to come serenade the gentleman outside his window because he loves opera. It was so sweet.”

Modifying Activities
The ladies had to modify their full slate of group activities when the Governor came out with the list of restrictions.

They changed group exercise and bingo to hallway exercise and bingo, with the residents remaining in their doorways, but still feeling like they are part of the action.

“We do a poker run, handing out a card a day to each resident and the one with the best hand at the end of the week wins a prize,” says Briana. “We also make sure to stream mass with Father Novak and Sister Barbara. People’s days are filled with activities.”

On May 5, the Fairlawn location held a festive parade of more than 100 cars.

‘The police had to direct traffic so many people turned out,” says Beth. “I wasn’t the only one with tears in my eyes as people drove by honking their horns.”

In Green, Melissa and Rose say the hallway singalongs and trivia parties have been well received. And residents loved the Love Boat-themed cart they created from the room-to-room cart, complete with the staff dressing up as sailors. They even threw a DJ dance party with the music located in the central courtyard and residents dancing while watching out their windows.

Thankfully, the Village of St. Edward just began allowing outside visits between residents and their families. People call to schedule the weekly visits, which take place in a socially distanced environment of strategically spaced tables and chairs. They follow all the protocols—screening for temperatures, asking symptom-related questions, and handing out an informational sheet—at each visit.

Dining areas have also recently reopened for residents to enjoy meals together in a socially distanced capacity, with tables spaced six feet apart.

“Families have been amazing to work with and so understanding about outdoor visits,” says Melissa.

The faith-based, not-for-profit The Village of St. Edward has three locations: Fairlawn, at 3125 Smith Road, phone number is 330-668-2828; Green, 3813 Fortuna Drive, 234-294-0010; and Wadsworth, 880 Main Street, 234-217-8735. Pets under 20 pounds are allowed. There are no long-term contracts and residents will not be asked to leave if they run out of funds. For more information, or to take a virtual visit, go to