National Guard cleans, tests at Thrive at Augusta senior living community


MARTINEZ, Ga. (WJBF) – More cleaning this week being done by the National Guard, this time in Columbia County.  

We have heard a lot about our senior population, our most vulnerable folks falling prey to the coronavirus in their facilities. At Thrive at Augusta, leaders are taking precautionary measures to make sure that the people who live and work there are safe.

The Georgia National Guard arrived to the senior living community around 7:30 a.m.

“We have Bio-Oxygen A and B, detergent, bleach, multiple other cleaning supplies here to help,” said one member.

He was part of a team from the Georgia National Guard that made a stop for a voluntary clean.

We spoke with Thrive President, Melita Winnick, about the visit.

“I think they started deploying their soldiers out on April 3 to all the different places across the country,” Winnick said.  “We called early and signed up.  So, many places they prioritized due to having COVID, but we are COVID free, so we did it as a preventative measure.”

COVID-19 free and trying to stay that way.

Winnick said the team members who work there have enhanced cleaning as well.

“Everyday they go through two, three times more than they normally do for cleaning.  We have products on order that we bring in.  We know our burn rate for our PPE and our products. We ensure that we remain at least six months of supplies or more,” she said.

And while some members of the National Guard broke out the hazmat suits to disinfect Thrive, Vice President of Resident Experience Jamie Miller said others made sure the people living and working there are virus free. The crew brought 100 tests from Augusta University.  And Miller said about 40 people took advantage of the voluntary opportunity.

“So I was one of the first,” she said of the testing.  “They actually also trained me to do the testing so if that time came, I would be able to do the testing, me and another nurse.  It’s uncomfortable, but it’s well worth it just to know that we are clear, we are safe.”

On a daily basis everyone inside practices social distancing.  Workers have their temperatures checked and residents have to go in quarantine after trips to the doctor’s office.  And while loved ones can’t come visit, the use of technology is increasing.

Winnick explained, “Everybody knows now about FaceTime.  That was a lot of fun to teach our residents how to use their iPhone.” 

Winnick added they are even talking with family members out of state that they didn’t talk to as much before.  And inside, meal time means eating in your own room.

“The dining room is vacant.  Now, at the same time, they can come out of their room to eat.  We deliver it to their room,” said Executive Chef Rickey Merideth.  “They can come out of their room to eat, but they still have to have that six foot social distancing.”

And after prayer was a message from those working in the trenches at Thrive, signs that read thank you and we love you.

So far, the folks at Thrive are not sure when the National Guard will be back or when more testing will take place.  But they are following CDC guidelines when it comes to inviting new residents into their community, making sure that there is a quarantine process and a testing process before and after. 

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