Just before one the most trying times the local health community has ever faced, Nestor Eligio stepped in as the new Executive Director of Astoria Memory Care in Tracy. A member of the Agemark Senior Living family of communities, Astoria provides expert, loving memory care for individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Eligio joined Astoria in February 2020.

Eligio brings 28-years of experience in the senior living industry. He began his career in line-staff roles before swiftly moving up the ranks to administrative roles. While focusing on his continued education and development in the industry, he advanced his career and became executive director at several communities in California and Arizona before taking the lead at Astoria.

Eligio feels thankful for the opportunity, even with the stress that COVID-19 has created for all health care professionals. “Despite the challenges we’ve faced as an industry since I’ve been here, I am so happy for this opportunity. I joined the Agemark family because of their core values of professionalism, integrity, compassion and commitment. During the pandemic, leaning on our values has steered us through a difficult situation. The team here at Astoria is strong and they care deeply for residents. Our company has truly been at the forefront of the coronavirus battle. Knowing that seniors were most vulnerable to this virus, we implemented many precautions to keep everyone safe. It really shows Agemark’s commitment and how much they care about residents and for us as employees.”

Agemark communities, including Astoria Memory Care were early adopters of safety measures intended to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. New policies implemented in early March were based on recommendations from the CDC, CMS and local health departments and included increased sanitization, screening staff and residents for symptoms, use of personal protective equipment, and preventing non-essential visitors, including residents’ own families. In early April, the company contracted with an outside agency to provide on-site testing and shortly thereafter Astoria tested everyone in the community and continues to test all staff bi-weekly. Astoria in Tracy has remained COVID-19 free.

In addition to providing outstanding care, the staff worked diligently to keep lines of communication with families open, through video calls, phone calls and window visits. Eligio says that prioritizing keeping residents connected with their families has been one of the staff’s top priorities “It’s challenging to keep a relationship going from a distance, particularly for residents who may have cognitive issues such as dementia. We’ve communicated through phone calls, letters and emails. We started a virtual “Family Coffee” event held via Zoom when we can answer questions and provide updates about what’s happening in the community. We’ve even taken our Caregiver Connections Support Group online. Although virtual communication feels a bit different, we’re happy to keep providing this service for local families because we know that those who are caring for a loved one with dementia at home are looking for help and resources or even just someone to listen.”

In addition to these efforts, Astoria Memory Care is allowed to host “Garden Visits” for family members and residents. Held outside in fresh air, with precautions including maintaining 6-feet of distance and wearing masks, families have been able to connect with their loved ones in person. With support from Agemark’s corporate nurse, Astoria Memory Care has been able to move-in new residents during COVID-19. In addition to a pre-move assessment, Astoria tests all prospective residents for COVID-19.

Eligio is supportive of the company’s persistence in helping local families. “Our mission is to help families. Despite the pandemic, our mission doesn’t change. If families are home caring for a loved one, especially someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s possible that they are struggling. We want to do everything in our power to help those in need.”