MASON COUNTY — Mason County’s two senior citizen centers will remain closed at least through the end of June, but the county action group is continuing to serve perhaps one of the most vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Renae Riffle, executive director of the Mason County Action Group, said centers are awaiting word from the governor about when they can reopen their doors. In the meantime, around 3,000 meals continued to be distributed in both April and May to county residents age 60 and over.
After the centers closed on March 18, “grab and go” meals began being offered at both the Gene Salem Senior Center at 101 Second Street in Point Pleasant, and the Mason Senior Center at the corner of Second and Horton streets in Mason. Meals can be picked up between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. by knocking on the door of the center. The site manager will hand out the sealed tray of hot food, along with a bag containing items like milk, bread and fruit.
Those who were not attendees at the centers prior to the virus can still pick up a meal by giving the site manager some basic information, such as name, address, phone number, date of birth, and how often you plan on getting a meal. They are served each weekday, with the exception of holidays.
Delivered meals for homebound residents are also continuing. Riffle said some seniors who were being transported to the centers daily by relatives or the county van have switched to home delivery. To have meals delivered, however, a person must qualify. Seniors can see if they meet the guidelines by calling Missy Wolfe at 304-675-2369.
On home delivery, the driver brings the meal to the door in a bag, hangs it on the door, knocks, then stands back. After seeing the senior (which also serves as a safety check), the driver has a short conversation at a distance before continuing on. The driver wears both a mask and gloves for safety.
Riffle said the action group is now taking applications for a meal driver. Interested people can apply for the part-time position by filling out an application online at www.masonseniors.com, or by picking up an application at the Salem center.
The action group has also delivered “care packages” to existing clients three times since closing, and will probably have one more distribution, Riffle said. The packages have contained items such as canned foods and soups, laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper and other staples. Riffle said the goal of the packages has been to keep seniors in their homes and limiting trips to the grocery store.
In-home care is “still going strong,” according to Riffle. She added all necessary safety measures are being taken for the over 100 clients. Only two decided to forego services until after the pandemic.
Transportation for seniors who are serviced from the Salem center also continues. Residents are transported to doctor’s offices for appointments, as well as for treatments such as dialysis and chemotherapy. Riffle said due to the virus, only one person can be transported at a time. To schedule a ride, seniors are encouraged to call 304-675-2369 as soon as a date and time are known.
Riffle said she is in the process of working on a policy to be put into place once the go-ahead is given for the centers to open. She said the policy must be approved by the county health department and will be on a limited basis, similar to how restaurants are reopening.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.