Victor Furtado, Director of Security, Transportation & Emergency Services NewBridge on the Charles, Hebrew SeniorLife
When Marsha Alperin recalls the day her father-in-law died in 2016, she remembers standing outside his apartment at NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham, Massachusetts, shaken and not knowing exactly what she should do. One thing that stands out for her about that difficult morning is the extreme kindness and compassion shown to her by Victor Furtado, who stood with her, comforted her with his reassuring presence, and made her feel okay.
Furtado is the director of security, transportation and emergency services at NewBridge on the Charles, a Hebrew SeniorLife community, that offers independent living, assisted living, memory care for people with memory loss from dementia and Alzheimer’s, skilled nursing and long-term chronic care. He is responsible for leading the 40-member team that provides everything from facilities and grounds security, to emergency response, to transportation to medical appointments, to any number of other tasks that fit into what NewBridge Executive Director Stephen Colwell refers to as the “not-my-job” category.
In Furtado’s words, he works to create the safest community possible, but those who know him say he also creates the most positive environment imaginable. He is known for his incredible compassion and his willingness to do whatever it takes to help.
“Vic’s catch phrase is, ‘Consider it done,’” said Colwell. “Every good idea, every request receives this response. Many people can have a positive attitude, but very few managers get the team to share the commitment to serve as a way of contribution. Vic’s team has learned to serve with a smile and an attitude that feels like it is no big deal.”
Furtado and his team are the first responders for emergencies at NewBridge. Most are EMT certified and, thanks to Furtado’s leadership, all are well-versed in the various needs particular to seniors. NewBridge resident Sharon Gouveia recalls receiving frequent assistance from Furtado and his team for her late husband who suffered from Parkinson’s disease. More than once she had to call for help lifting her husband or for some other assistance.
Furtado’s leadership is credited by many for his staff’s extremely high level of sensitivity, responsibility and compassion.
“One of Victor’s strong points is the way he has trained his security team and keeps their morale up. He instills the value of compassion in his team. If you asked any resident here, one of the highlights is the peace of mind we get from knowing that the security team is a call away,” said Gouveia.
Interacting with family members of residents is part of the job and that requires a certain kind of compassion, as well. Family dynamics can be complex, especially when illness or end-of-life are at issue. “At such a difficult time, you have to learn how to listen, truly listen,” said Furtado. “Connecting with people establishes a trust so that family members truly understand that you have the best interest of mom and dad in mind. Trust is an incredibly important part of what we do here.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, life at NewBridge, like everywhere else, had to be adjusted and the role of protecting the residents became even more critical. With residents staying in their apartments, requests for assistance changed and Furtado was there, leading his team to meet them. The security team continued to provide their usual stellar service, but took on additional roles like delivering meals and even advising how to set up a Zoom call or use an iPad. Since the first days of the pandemic, Furtado and his staff have taken the time to give an extra smile, check in on people and see how they are doing, listen and try to help in any way they can.
Caring for a large community of seniors during a global pandemic has certainly presented some unusual stresses. For example, Furtado developed a decontamination routine for his return home from work every day that included a direct path for his clothes from his body into the washing machine. He also restricted his interaction with his family for more than six weeks at the beginning of the pandemic to prevent the possible transmission of any germs. He said it was difficult, but working to support a great mission and serving so many wonderful people made it a little easier.
Alperin’s own parents eventually moved to NewBridge where they now live and she continues to see the full scope of Furtado’s compassion. In her words, “I have never met a human being who has the span of compassion that Victor has for every resident who is there.”