Ecumen Connection Station, senior housing, senior living

Ecumen Lakeshore Gets Creative to Offer Outdoor Visits

Ecumen Lakeshore gets creative to offer outdoor visits

The Minnesota Department of Health recently released guidelines allowing one designated “essential caregiver” to enter the long-term facility in order to help with care.

Before long-term care facilities began restricting visitors back in March to keep the new coronavirus at bay, Tim Gilberg of Duluth would join his 89-year-old father nearly every evening for dinner at Ecumen Lakeshore’s assisted living facility.

After work, he’d hop in his vehicle and make the drive from Verso paper mill to the large campus across town on London Road to share a meal with his father, Derry Gilberg.

“Some people thought I lived here,” Tim said. “It worked out well for me. I didn’t have to go home, cook and do the dishes. I got to visit with everybody, all the workers and the residents.”

More than 100 days have passed since the father and son have been able carry out their routines: going for drives together on Saturday mornings, stopping for a bite to eat at Tappa Keg Inn.

“That was a big change for me,” Tim said. “I always enjoy coming to pick him up and take him for a ride. Now I can’t.”

His father, Derry, added: “I looked forward to going fishing and going to breakfast.”

It wasn’t until Father’s Day that the two were allowed to sit down together ⁠— face mask to face mask ⁠— outside following the Minnesota Department of Health’s release of guidelines on offering outdoor visits between long-term care facility residents and their loved ones. Before that the two stayed in touch through multiple phone calls a day and waves through the window.

On Friday, the health department released additional guidelines that would allow residents of long-term care facilities to be designated one “essential caregiver.” Those assigned individuals will be able to enter the buildings and assist with daily care needs. Facilities like Ecumen Lakeshore have until July 25 to review the guidelines and draft their own plans.

Those caregivers will need to wear eye and face coverings. For some residents, especially those with hearing impairments, communicating from behind masks poses real challenges. Which is why there are now two three-sided Plexiglas booths outside Ecumen that residents can sit in to safely visit family and friends without having to wear a face covering.

From behind a Plexiglas wall, Derry was able to visit unmasked with his son Saturday, and being able to read lips and facial expressions helped.

“Otherwise it’s just mouth mush,” Derry said.

“It’s better than nothing,” Tim said of the outdoor visits he has to schedule in advance online. He estimated the two have visited about eight times since allowed.

Jena Evans, community relations manager for Ecumen Lakeshore, said the visitation booths are especially popular among residents with dementia. Overall, the campus’ memory care residents see the highest number of visitors.

“Connections are important for everybody, for any age, any ability or disability, but for our memory care (residents) they’re incredibly important just for their overall happiness,” Evans said “We see that they’re just overall happier when they have familiar people from their life.”

Under the health department’s latest new guidelines Evans said not all residents will be assigned an essential caregiver who will be allowed to enter the building. Since those guidelines only allow for one visitor, she said the Plexiglas stations provide a way for residents, especially those who have difficulty wearing a mask, to see more than just one family member.

“Having this broad range of choices helps to extend the opportunities for our residents to have these meaningful connections,” Evans said.

Following the recent steps toward allowing outdoor visits, beginning this week, assisted living residents at Ecumen Lakeshore will be able to join in group activities and eat together in the dining room for the first time in months with physical distancing emphasized.

Ecumen Lakeshore Connection Station

Ecumen President & CEO Shelley Kendrick Named to YMCA Twin Cities Board of Directors


Shelley Kendrick, President and CEO of Ecumen, has been named to the YMCA Twin Cities Board of Directors. "I greatly admire the work of the YMCA and am very proud to join the thought leaders on this Board, supporting the important goals of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility." 

Ecumen Lakeshore Connection Station

Shelley Kendrick Joins Select Thought Leaders on the International Council on Active Aging's COVID-19 Senior Living Task Force

Shelley Kendrick joins select thought leaders and prominent industry associations from across North America on the International Council on Active Aging's (ICAA) COVID-19 Senior Living Task Force. With a focus on the health, safety, and quality of life of residents and staff, the Task Force will develop, in conjunction with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), guidance for senior living organizations as they plan when and how they will safely reopen. Shelley said, "I was honored to be asked to join this task force and help find solutions to assist those we serve during and after COVID." 

Click here to learn more about the International Council on Active Aging.

senior housing, senior living

Ecumen Named Among 6 Senior Living Providers to Watch in 2020

Ecumen: Leading the way in nonprofit innovation

February 3, 2020 | Published by Senior Housing News | Article by Chuck Sudo


Although nonprofit senior living providers have shown an appetite for growth through affiliation in recent years, they have lost market share to their for-profit counterparts, who have greater willingness to assume risk for the sake of growth and innovation.

One exception to the rule is Ecumen, which has embraced several of the strategies for-profits have used to build scale. The Shoreview, Minnesota-based provider has a portfolio of 30 communities in eight states totaling 2,109 units and ranked 33rd on the 2019 LZ 200 list of top nonprofit providers. More important, Ecumen has transformed .... [Click here to view the full article]


Zvago St. Anthony Plaque

Zvago St. Anthony Park Wins Top Real Estate Development Honor




Zvago St. Anthony Park Wins Top Real Estate Development Honor

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Morshed Alam Named Ecumen Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Morshed (Mo) Alam, has been named Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Ecumen.Read more

Kathryn Robers Women In Business

Ecumen CEO Emeritus Kathryn Roberts Receives Top Career Achievement Award

Ecumen CEO Emeritus Kathryn Roberts received the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s 2019 Career Achievement Award at the 2019 Women in Business luncheon and expo May 23, 2019.

Kathryn accepted the award before the more than 900 attendees, saying, “I am especially proud to be rounding out my career at a time when so many more women – a room full of them here today – are leading, succeeding and, most importantly, making this world a better place – because we care deeply about what comes after us.”

The May 24 edition of the Business Journal featured Kathryn on the cover, and the newspaper produced a tribute video from her friends and colleagues talking about her stellar career. You can click on the video below, or go to this link.

Congratulations Kathryn, and thank you for your leadership at Ecumen!

Helen Kyle


Gift Officer  651-766-4385

Helen Kyle joined the philanthropy team in June of 2016. In her time at Ecumen, she has supported the success of fundraising events, managed our donor database, and increased donations to Ecumen programs. In her current role as a Gift Officer, Helen works with Ecumen communities to support site-specific giving programs and events. She meets with Ecumen’s generous donors and invites them into continued partnership. Helen graduated cum laude from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. She has a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology with a concentration in Family Studies. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Tami Allenson


Director - Philanthropy Programs

Tami has been an employee with Ecumen for over 7 years. Her background is in Marketing and her current role as Director of Philanthropy Programs allows her to continue building relationships throughout the organization, and strong partnerships in the greater community on behalf of Ecumen. This includes hosting the annual golf tournament and partner events, in addition to working with our community leaders to identify and foster donors dedicated to furthering Ecumen’s mission. Tami studied Psychology and Business Administration at University of Minnesota – Duluth, and Organizational Leadership at Bethel College. She lives with her husband and daughter in Ramsey, MN.