The Actors Fund has provided $11,432,398 in emergency relief to 12,582 industry workers during the coronavirus shutdown, the fund said Thursday. “It’s a big number and will get bigger, but what is most meaningful to remember is that each individual we help has a compelling story and we are playing an important supporting role in each life,” chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell said.
“It’s clear that the fund is built to respond to crises, and we are effectively responding now,” said Joe Benincasa, the fund’s president and CEO. “At the outset of the pandemic, the fund transitioned our financial assistance application and most programs to online. That transition seemed seamless, but it was complex and beautifully done in 24 hours. And, as many of us moved to work remotely, the services and programs continued, seamlessly, and that was complex as well.”
Related StoryNo New Coronavirus Cases Or Deaths At The Actors Fund Home In New Jersey As Curve Flattens; 20 Sickened Residents Have Recovered
Since March 13, he said, “We’ve generated $27 million in revenue and support: $8 million to administer our 12 industry partners’ financial assistance programs, and another $19 in contributions and grants from more than 25,000 donors.”
“As an example of how effective staff has been,” Benincasa said, “please consider that in eight weeks the fund has received nearly seven years’ worth of applications for assistance and distributed more than five-times the funds normally distributed in one year. The Fund has shaped a balanced approach to the future. This is a marathon and the disruption will not be easily cured.”
Going forward, Benincasa said:
• Emergency financial assistance will continue.
• Health insurance education and enrollment will be stepped-up as we work to help make sure that people keep their health insurance or we help them secure insurance.
• We’ll offer counseling around navigating careers and government systems in the COVID economy.
• Health care at The Friedman Health Care Center in Times Square will continue in partnership with Mount Sinai
• We will continue serving seniors and the disabled throughout the community and at our Seniors Home in New Jersey and
• Helping colleagues secure affordable housing and building more affordable housing will continue to be a priority.”
The Actors Fund Home in Englewood, NJ, which was an early epicenter of the outbreak, was hard-hit by the virus, seeing 11 residents succumb to the coronavirus in the early weeks of the pandemic. It’s turned the corner, however, and has been free of the virus for nearly a month.
The home’s administrator, Jordan Strohl, who has been with the fund now for 20 years, was praised today by fund chairman Mitchell. “You are someone whom we respect, love and admire,” he said. “You completed a $34 million construction project last year and the home you administer received a perfect state survey or inspection and, again, a five-star rating by the federal government. But what you had done through this pandemic is amazing. You locked down the home a week ahead of the governor’s order to keep residents and staff safe. You were ready with all the PPE needed. You created two COVID-19 units, now broken down, and for a month now we are COVID-free. You are starting weekly testing for everyone tomorrow. And you have been there, side by side, with staff to care for residents.
“Your communications with family and friends have been candid, encouraging, and so important since their loved ones cannot be in the building or on the grounds. Our home is at the epicenter of the pandemic and we mourn the 11 who died of COVID-19. It is no wonder that we have the best staff at the home – it’s because we have the best administrator.”
Strohl, in his latest message to families of the home’s residence, said that he is “pleased to report that it has been almost a month since we have had a positive COVID-19 case in our long term care facility, and we have not needed to use isolation protocols or to test any additional residents.
“The local hospitals continue to be very quiet but have finally been given the green light by the Governor and the Department of Health to restart elective surgeries as of next Tuesday, May 26th. This is a significant milestone for ALL healthcare providers.
“The Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Judith Persichilli and Governor Phil Murphy have mandated all healthcare facilities to test all residents and all staff for COVID-19. Since we have now received the additional guidance we had been waiting for, I have gone ahead and partnered with a Bergen County testing site, and plan to start testing residents and staff this Friday, May 22, 2020. We will be using the Saliva test that was developed and created by Rutgers University for ALL staff and for as many residents as possible. Unfortunately, if residents are not able to produce the required amount of saliva, they will need to be given the nasal swab test.
“This testing will allow us to create a baseline for the entire facility which is now being required for all facilities. Any resident who receives a positive result will be required to be on isolation for 14 days. Any staff member who receives a positive test result, will be required to be out of the facility for at least 14 days. In addition to the original testing date, we are required to schedule a second testing date, which will be next Thursday, May 28th. This once again will be required for everyone and will help us establish that baseline testing that the Department of Health is now requiring. Generally, test results are ready 36-48 hours after the testing is performed. As soon as those results are received over the weekend, my team and I will be here to discuss the necessary next steps.
“I am hopeful that we will not find many asymptomatic positive residents or staff since there have been no residents with positive or presumed positive COVID-19 cases in almost four weeks. Of course, my team and I will handle whatever the testing results will be and any new challenges will be dealt with as soon as possible.
“This testing process will give both the Governor and the NJ DOH additional metrics which should help guide them on the re-opening of Health Care Facilities, and hopefully, will help to avoid any flare ups of COVID in the future.”
He also noted that:
• The facility remains closed to ALL visitors. This is tied to an executive order from both Governor Murphy and CMS. There will also be NO “window visits” and you cannot just stop by the facility.
• You may NOT drop anything off in person.
• We will continue to offer FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom calls
• We continue to offer you an opportunity to send emails to be handed out to residents daily.