Atria in spotlight as staff members carry out Irma response plan

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Actress Kristen Bell visits with Atria residents at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort. (Photo courtesy of Atria Senior Living)
Actress Kristen Bell visits with Atria residents at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort. (Photo courtesy of Atria Senior Living)

Atria Senior Living was in the spotlight Monday night when “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” featured a video conversation between the TV talk show's host and actress Kristen Bell, who had been on location in Orlando filming the Netflix comedy “Like Father” when Atria residents were evacuated to the hotel where she was staying, in preparation for Hurricane Irma.

Bell spoke with Kimmel against a backdrop of Atria residents and staff, and the conversation included an employee of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort as well as John, a resident of Atria Park of St. Joseph's in Jupiter, FL. John had become a star in his own right through Bell's social media accounts, where she posted video of them singing together and other photos and messages related to her experiences with the residents. It was these posts that caught Kimmel's attention. (Watch the segment below.)

Actor Seth Rogen (in the accompanying photo with an Atria employee) also visited with the group. His wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, wrote the script and is directing “Like Father,” for which she also is a producer.

Outside of the spotlight's glare, however, Atria staff members were shining as they put the company's natural disaster response plan into action.

Ronda Watson, the company's senior vice president of culinary and Engage Life, told McKnight's Senior Living that 633 residents were evacuated to the Disney resort from the company's independent living, assisted living and memory care communities across the state. More than 200 family members of Florida-based staff also were evacuated to the resort.

Employees planned happy hours and strength and fitness classes to keep residents entertained and relaxed. A couple staying at the hotel bought 100 10-minute massages for residents from the hotel's spa.

“While our employees tended to the needs and wishes of our residents, we set up an on-site day care for their children — and a full set of daily activities to keep them occupied and entertained,” Watson said. The company also was able to provide shelter to 50 pets thanks to hotel management, which made an exception to its normal policy, given the circumstances.

Behind the efforts was a 65-person command center team on site at the hotel, 201 community staff members who were evacuated and 87 Atria staff members flown in from across the country. Atria also chartered a bus that brought 20 additional employees from its headquarters city of Louisville, KY, to relieve some of the team members and assist with residents' trips home, which began Tuesday with John and his fellow Atria Park of St. Joseph's residents. Trips are expected to last through the end of the week, Watson said.

The company is starting to raise funds through Atria Cares for employees affected by Hurricane Irma. Atria founded the nonprofit affiliate in 2004 to provide financial assistance to employees who have experienced tragedies or hardships.

Since Hurricane Harvey, Atria Cares has raised almost $150,000, including a $50,000 donation from Atria Senior Living, to benefit staff members in Texas who have been affected by the earlier storm. To date, approximately $50,000 in grants have been provided to more than 100 workers, almost one-third of Atria's Houston-area employees, according to Watson.

See the video from the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” segment below. Visit Atria Senior Living's Facebook page and Bell's Twitter feed and Instagram page for more information.

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