BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) — During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the owner of Shady Oaks Assisted Living in Bristol found a way to protect 17 staff members, their families, and Shady Oaks residents.
Tyson Belanger took over his family business four years ago. But back in March when COVID-19 first hit Connecticut, he knew he had to do something to protect his residents and staff.
“I didn’t want to look back in 20, 30, 40 years from now and say I missed this chance to save lives,” he said.
Belanger ended up purchasing five trailers for his staff and himself to live in. They moved in on March 22, planning to be there for two months, and ended up living in the trailers for around 10 weeks.
In addition to “the bubble” he created, he knew he had to come up with other incentives knowing the sacrifice his staff was taking being away from families.
Belanger said, “For our CNAs, we paid $15,000 a month and for our nurses, we paid $20,000 a month.”
Initially, he thought he would be funding the costs on his own but he did get donations as well as help from the federal Payroll Protection Program.
“It did take a chunk out of my savings but again it’s worth it, it’s saving lives; there’s no comparison.”
Since the beginning of June, his entire staff has returned to commuting but he says they will be prepared should a second wave hit.
He even ordered a plaque to recognize the 17 staff members and the sacrifices they have made these past few months.
“At the end of the day, it’s about saving lives,” Belanger said.
Now, he’s hoping state leaders will look at his success and think about funding programs similar to his bubble idea, should another outbreak happen.