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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Naperville’s Pulse in Springfield – Navigating Challenges


As I write this column, I am noticing a gradual uptick in coronavirus positivity rates and hospitalizations for DuPage County. I want to again encourage everyone to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Our restaurants and retailers are beginning to bounce back due to relaxed restrictions, but if positivity rates and hospitalizations from COVID-19 continue to climb in our DuPage-Kane region, restrictions will be put back in place that will devastate our business community. Please do what you can to stop the spread.

As we navigate the challenges associated with this health pandemic, the people of Naperville continue to step up and help one another. People are donating blood, dropping off non-perishables at food pantries, and are checking in on and shopping for elderly neighbors. Many individuals and business owners are also continuing to support funding initiatives and annual campaigns for nonprofits. I’ve said it before – in times of crisis, the people in this area give their very best.

The spread of COVID-19 has been especially difficult to manage within assisted-living facilities and group homes for the developmentally disabled. Since it is possible to be asymptomatic while having COVID-19, keeping the virus out of these settings has been a challenge.

It was heartwarming to learn recently that in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus, 111 staff members/care givers from Ray Graham Association (RGA) volunteered to move into 33 community integrated living centers that Ray Graham operates. These are people with families; with spouses and children. These RGA employees recognized the risks associated with coming and going from these homes, and made the incredibly selfless decision to move in to eliminate their exposure to the virus and their risk of infecting others.

Ray Graham President and CEO Kim Zoeller told me the response was overwhelming.
Initially, two-week move-ins were offered, but not required, as a way to stop the spread of COVID-19. Twenty employees committed to a two-week move-in, and another 27 staff members stayed for a full four weeks. Another 25 employees moved in for six weeks, and 29 more moved into a group home for eight full weeks. Seven staffers moved into a home for 10 weeks, one for 12 weeks and two employees have stayed in a home for 14 straight weeks.

I’m told that most of the RGA homes have transitioned back to regular schedules, but that a few homes still have employees staying there overnight.

These employees saw and understood the big picture. They looked beyond themselves and their families and answered a call. In my book, these 111 RGA employees are heroes who represent the very best of humanity.

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Grant Wehrli
Grant Wehrli
Grant Wehrli is a lifelong Naperville Resident and former Representative in the Illinois House of Representatives and Naperville City Councilman.