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Successfully Guiding San Simeon Through the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities around the world. And in the US, its effects seem to be amplified within nursing homes. So how has San Simeon by the Sound managed to successfully navigate through one of the largest public health crises in our lifetime? Kelly Moteiro, San Simeon’s Director of Nursing, can’t claim all the credit; however, her leadership and reinvigorated comradery with the members of our team have played a major role.

Russ Silberman, head writer at Electric Bricks in Patchogue, recently had the chance to interview Kelly in regard to keeping COVID-19 out of San Simeon by the Sound.

Kelly Moteiro joined San Simeon by the Sound in May of 2016 as Director of Nursing. As a bachelor’s prepared registered nurse, she has over 20 years experience in long-term care.

Beginning her nursing career as a certified nurse’s aide while she attended LPN school, she then continued on to obtain her RN license as she worked as an LPN. After becoming a registered nurse, Moteiro worked as a charge nurse and stepped into an opportunity to be the in-service/infection control nurse. Before joining the San Simeon family, Moteiro served for six years as director of nursing at a skilled nursing facility after spending a year as assistant director.

In 2018, Moteiro completed the master’s program for nursing leadership at Stony Brook University. Her many certifications include wound care, TPN, IV, CPR instructor, dementia care and PRI/SCREEN.

Kelly Moteiro

Tough Call

On Monday, March 9th, Kelly was with her daughter Serena in Florida attending a dance competition featuring Serena’s former high school team. Upon receiving an urgent call from Steven C. Smyth, San Simeon’s Executive VP and Administrator, it became apparent the two of them would have to make a critical decision. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in New York State was reported just over a week earlier, and nobody could foresee how this virus was about to sweep through the nation. But with a case reported a short distance from San Simeon, Kelly and Steven decided the best way to ensure the health of their residents was to close the facility doors to visitors.

Soon after this decision was finalized, Kelly and her daughter donned medical face masks and flew back to New York.

San Simeon staff in front of heroes work here sign

“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

Upon returning to work at San Simeon, Kelly quickly realized she was dealing with something so unprecedented and unfathomable that it was near impossible to describe. She knew the best way to boost morale while ensuring each staff member adhered to the new, stringent policies and procedures was by living it with them. “When I’m committed, I’m in it. Every resident is someone’s mom, someone’s loved one I’m responsible for. So I’m here every day doing the work side-by-side with the nursing staff. Eighty-plus days of that and everyone gains mutual respect. We’re all on the same team, striving to achieve the same goal.”

Providing a Helping Hand

Throughout the pandemic, many facilities faced difficulties obtaining sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); so, I asked Kelly if San Simeon ran into any problems.

“We were struggling a bit with masks. Then we received a generous donation from Greenport Harbor Brewery. After receiving additional PPE from the New York Department of Health, we were actually able to donate excess PPE to other facilities that weren’t as fortunate.”

According to recent reports, the 400+ nursing home facilities in New York have attributed to around 20% of COVID-19 related deaths in the state. As one of the few facilities without a single case, I was curious to find out if other members of the medical community had reached out to learn from San Simeon’s success.

IPRO, a non-profit organization specializing in healthcare quality assurance, contacted Kelly, and asked her to teach a webinar on keeping COVID-19 out of healthcare facilities. Kelly agreed, and she will be sharing her firsthand knowledge with Directors of Nursing throughout the country.

Heartwarming Memories

Throughout the pandemic, Kelly witnessed moments that gave cause for hope and a reason to smile.

Although San Simeon has remained closed to visitors, the glass doors at the courtyard entrance provided a place for residents and their loved ones to safely reunite. “You could tell being able to see each other physically meant a lot,” Kelly said while describing one instance in which resident’s family brought their dog along.

“Seeing the residents outside, dancing to the music during our Memorial Day celebration. That’s another memory I’ll be holding on to.”

Music event at San Simeon by the Sound

Looking Forward to the Future

Like all of us, Kelly looks forward to the day this is all over. “Being able to sleep at home in my own bed, spending time with my family, residents being able to hug their loved ones. And finally getting a day off!” Hopefully we reach the other side of the pandemic soon. But no matter what, Kelly Moteiro and the rest of the San Simeon staff will be hard at work caring for their residents while making the most of each day.

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