Senior living facilities work to keep coronavirus at bay

May 6, 2020

From calling lonely residents, to calling in the National Guard, senior living facilities in Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester are working to protect the most vulnerable population from contracting coronavirus.

In Marion, Sippican Healthcare Center had the National Guard test all 180 residents and staff. Town nurse Kathy Downey said that the results were negative.

“The health and safety of our residents is paramount and we are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and healthy,” said Kathryn Soderberg, chief corporate compliance officer for Whittier Health Network, which runs Sippican Healthcare.

The center updates its website daily with the number of positive and suspected cases for both residents and staff. As of May 11, there are no cases reported.

Starting March 12, visitors were limited only to special circumstances such as end- of-life situations. Deliveries to the center are dropped off at a different entrance and sanitized before entering the building.

Staff also sanitize every surface and wear personal protective equipment such as masks that were donated by Tri-town residents, which Soderberg said is much appreciated.

The Annie Maxim House, a 12 apartment senior living facility in Rochester, has one confirmed case of coronavirus. Executive Director Kristina Gardiner said on May 6 that the resident showed symptoms, but was not hospitalized. No other information is available on their condition at this time.

Gardiner said on April 20 that the house is following all guidelines from the Center of Disease Control and are taking the virus “one day at a time.”

She said that many residents over the age of eighty have “weathered a lot in their lives,” so she makes sure that staff temper their reactions to the news of the virus.

The house only has five employees, so she is less worried about a staff member bringing in the virus. As a precautionary measure, all staff must wear gloves and masks at all times, and only visitors with critical needs are allowed to see family members.

Leila Botsford, the executive director of the Mattapoisett Housing Authority, said that its staff and residents of the 54 apartment complex for seniors are “doing really well,” at keeping the virus at bay.

Her complex is overseen by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, so if there were to be a case, she would follow its protocol. She has not heard of any cases, but clarified that the state is not required to notify her of cases, so she would likely learn of it from a tenant.

Botsford said she and her staff have been working hard since this started, even though the office is closed. For the maintenance crew, that means only dealing with emergency matters or vacancies.

For residents, she has been providing as much communication as possible through posted notices and reverse 911 calls.

With doors locked, she’s been sure to let residents know that they are welcome to call the office if they are lonely, and has had a few take her up on the offer just to chat.