I‘ve no doubt Melody Johnson has had a tough week. She is the executive director of Grande Ronde Retirement Residence, La Grande, which has four employees out after they tested positive for COVID-19.
The Observer reported the situation in a Tuesday front page story, some of the latest in our coverage of the pandemic’s damaging local effects.
Johnson could have ducked and ignored our request to talk about a difficult situation. We’re still getting the silent treatment from the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Island City that is at the heart of the county’s outbreak. But Johnson did the opposite. She spoke with reporter Ronald Bond on the record, and there was nothing ambiguous in her statements.
When the test results came, she said, Grande Ronde Retirement Residence wasted no time notifying family members, health authorities and other agencies.
A look at the facility’s Facebook page shows Johnson has been making regular posts for weeks with updates about coronavirus tests results and the steps to mitigate contact.
Johnson on Wednesday reported Grande Ronde Retirement Residence received results from 30 employees, and still only the four were positive. She updated Facebook on Thursday, reporting the facility expects the rest of its employee test results as soon as Saturday, and the company’s Health Services Director Sheri Volk tested all residents on the assisted living side. Those results should be back next week.
Likewise, Northwood Investments, the parent company to both Outdoors RV and Northwood Manufacturing in La Grande, reported this week it had five confirmed cases of COVID-19 at its Outdoors RV facility. Once again, a local business let the public know.
Doing the right thing can be difficult, but Johnson and Northwood Investments did the right thing. That is the kind of outreach and transparency that builds trust and good will with the community.
They deserve the community’s thanks and praise.
And Johnson in particular is an example of what to do in a crisis.
She posted on Facebook — yet again — on Thursday: “Our commitment to you all throughout this process is to keep you all updated and be as transparent as possible.”
Johnson has demonstrated she backs up her words with actions.
That’s a valuable lesson for all of us at any time.