RAWLINS – As confirmed cases of COVID-19, aka coronavirus, rise across the state, senior care facilities in Carbon County are taking steps to limit their clients’ risk of exposure.
Carbon County Senior Services (CCSS) and Rawlins Rehabilitation and Wellness closed their doors to non-essential personnel earlier this week, following guidance issued by the Wyoming Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control.
The Rehabilitation and Wellness facility, which offers respite and hospice services, will continue to allow family visitation for clients near the end of their life, but all other visitors are being asked to call or use video services, such as Skype, instead of visiting in person, a news release said.
Despite scheduling an interview with Rawlins Times staff, Rehabilitation and Wellness Executive Director Rich Bergman was not available for comment as of press time Friday.
Throughout the county, CCSS is canceling senior center activities and congregate meals as well as enforcing strict screening for staff, CCSS Executive Director Lisa Engstrom said.
“Anybody that comes into our center, including employees and delivery drivers will be screened once a day,” Engstrom explained. “I’m even taking my own temperature every morning.”
In addition to taking people’s temperatures, looking for any above 100 degrees that could indicate a fever, CCSS is asking people if they’ve traveled out of the country, taken a cruise or visited any state with a significant number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days.
“We’re following the screening criteria put out by the Wyoming Health Department,” Engstrom said.
Before canceling congregate meals, the Rawlins Senior Center prepared about 55 home-delivered meals and about 45 congregate meals a day. Since closing, they are now delivering about 65 and providing about 20 more via curbside pick up.
“Many of the people who ate here for the congregate meals are now doing the pick-up option,” Engstrom said. “We do have some that opted to do neither and said they would cook for themselves as long as they could still get access to groceries.”
Numbers of increased deliveries were not immediately available for CCSS’ seven other facilities, located in Saratoga, Encampment, Baggs, Medicine Bow, Dixon, Elk Mountain and Hanna, she said.
In all, CCSS provided services to approximately 1,000 people in 2019, and Engstrom said the organization was on track to serve even more in 2020.
As pandemic fears spread, the Rawlins Senior Center experienced an outpouring of community support. So far, about 30 people called in to volunteer as grocery and errand runners for seniors in need and more call each day, Engstrom said.
“We live in an amazing, wonderful community,” she said.
With the Rawlins Family Recreation Center closed in response to COVID-19, rec. center staff are helping the Rawlins Senior Center conduct welfare checks via telephone, Engstrom said.
While most of the organization’s supplies are well-stocked, Engstrom said senior centers in Encampment and Saratoga are struggling to acquire some food items, such as milk. For the time being, CCSS staff is delivering milk from Rawlins.
“We’ll do that as long as we can still get the milk from Sysco,” Engstrom said. “But, it is an added expense for us to deliver that twice a week.”
For more information about CCSS services, call 307-324-6919.