Casey’s Pond no longer under outbreak status
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As Casey’s Pond Senior Living is officially removed from COVID-19 outbreak status, Melissa Lahay, director of sales and marketing for Casey’s Pond, says, “It’s awesome. Now, we can look for ways to open up a little and reduce some restrictions.”
One of the big changes is in allowing new residents to move in, she said, and that includes into the rehabilitation wing.
In addition to their memory care, assisted living and independent living neighborhoods, Casey’s Pond works closely with UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in housing patients while they are in short term rehabilitation from surgery or other major medical procedures.
As the hospital eliminated the majority of elective surgeries, the need for rehab beds at Casey’s Pond went down, Lahay noted, but they did have people waiting to move in.
In terms of welcoming new residents starting Monday, Lahay said each new admission will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
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Over the past few months, when one of Casey’s Pond’s neighborhoods had active cases, residents were restricted in how much — if at all — they could leave their rooms.
Some residents were able to get outside and take walks throughout most of the pandemic, depending on their neighborhood and what was happening with the active cases in their neighborhood.
As Lahay noted, many of the guidelines and restrictions continue to evolve and change on a constant basis. However, all residents are now able to get out and socialize — wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart.
On Sunday, the Veranda dining room reopened, and Suzanne Wickham, an independent living resident, was able to have her first meal outside of her room. While the diners were few in number, staggered in shifts and spread apart, Wickham said it was wonderful to have that new option opened to the residents. Outdoor dining is also available both on the back patio and at the front.
“We were calling across the dining room for conversations,” she said, but they were still very happy to have a change from eating alone in their rooms.
Wickham has also been staying very active by pitching in on the gardening and landscaping around the Casey’s Pond grounds.
Lahay described Wickham as someone who has been able to “take it upon herself to create her own happiness.”
Wickham said a positive attitude has been key to getting through the past few months, as well as her personality, which enjoys and appreciates time alone while also enjoying time with others.
When she couldn’t see her family face to face, Wickham said, she could still see her neighbors and socialize with the staff members.
She’s also appreciated plenty of time to read, watch golf on television and practice needlepoint.
There are other people who have been “almost literally hibernating,” she said, and don’t leave their rooms. She said the past few months seem to have been harder on those residents.
Even though Wickham lives across the hall from someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, she said she never worried about catching the virus.
“I felt safe the whole time because the measures the staff has been taking has been more than adequate,” she said. “I feel safe here — I have to commend them. They contained the outbreak.”
There are a few other aspects that are loosening. Residents with cars are able to go to go on essential outings, which now includes going to the hair salon and drive-in church services.
There are also scenic van drives now available for residents, and families are allowed to bring their loved ones homemade food in sealed containers.
For Wickham, who has kids, grandkids and a great grandkid who live in Steamboat, not getting to see them in person has been on of the most challenging parts.
One grandchild is about to move, she said, and “I hope I get to hug them goodbye.”
Wickham said it’s been hard on her family too — not to be able to visit — when they were accustomed to weekly visits.
One of the other challenging aspects has been needing to ask for help, Wickham said, such as having staff or family go to the grocery store. But she said the staff has been wonderful in stepping up to run errands for residents.
As these small restrictions are lifted, Wickham said she is so appreciative of the things she used to take for granted.
“It’s really exciting as the things open up — we now really appreciate what we have, and what we had,” she said.
At this time, said Lahay, visits from outsiders are still limited to phone calls and window encounters. They are working on when at when that can change, but it isn’t here yet, she said.
“There is light as the end of the tunnel,” Lahay said.
Casey’s Pond continues to conduct mass testing, with a total of 1,217 tests conducted to date. One resident in his 90s recently recovered, and they are maintaining numbers at 12 total residents having tested positive, and 12 staff members testing positive. Only 10 of the staff members are listed as recovered on the Casey’s Pond website, but Lahay was unable to provide any information about the two staff members who are not listed as recovered.
As of Friday, there were still 63 resident tests pending, and 132 pending tests for staff.
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