Community shows love for Casey’s Pond
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After news broke that several staff and residents at Casey’s Pond tested positive for COVID-19, the community immediately stepped up with support, described Melissa Lahay, director of sales and marketing for Casey’s Pond.
There wasn’t fear or anger she said, only an inundation of texts, emails and calls asking, “How can we help?”
Local businesses offered Casey’s Pond anything and everything, and at no cost — from cleaning and sanitizing to grocery delivery.
From the beginning — just like everyone — the Casey’s Pond community has been through a lot of emotions, Lahay said. They felt their individual fears and anxieties that were compounded knowing that their particular community was home to a concentration of the valley’s most vulnerable.
“We knew we needed to band together as a team,” Lahay said. “The whole situation was changing every day — every hour — especially in the beginning.”
Visitors were restricted early on, which led to family members calling their loved ones from outside their windows, so at least they could be in each other’s physical presence.
One group, described Lahay, whose family member lived on the second floor, parked across the street and stood on top of their pickup truck with balloons.
And if they weren’t already, many of the residents are becoming more tech-savvy as they get a lot more video call experience.
Not having visitors can be very isolating, Lahay noted. But the staff does everything they can to keep residents connected to the outside world.
Louise Fritz, a Casey’s Pond resident, tried Skype for the first time with her 36-year-old grandson. “He still likes grandma,” she said.
Since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported within Casey’s Pond, Lahay emphasized the staff has worked to be as transparent as possible with families and the public, and set up an additional hotline for concerned family members with questions.
“Information gives knowledge,” she said. “And knowledge can release some fears and anxiety.”
The community support extends beyond families and local businesses, Lahay said. Everyone — from local public health officials to the medical community — has shown their strong support for everyone at Casey’s Pond.
In terms of specific acts of kindness, there have been more than Lahay can count. Musicians have played outside windows. A family member of one of the residents ordered pizza.
One local pizza shop is now feeding employees once a week, and making sure they get food to every shift on the 24-hour staff. Of course it isn’t the normal “everyone grab a slice,” Lahay noted, with the process of a pizza party now involving a lot more plastic wrap and gloves.
One business brought them a supply hand sanitizer, while another is doing grocery delivery once a week for residents.
Several people have dropped off handmade masks, Lahay said.
“We’ve really feel the love,” she said. “It’s a true reflection of Steamboat.”
And the staff and residents have been supportive of each other, she described, making signs with encouraging messages and reminding each other “We will get through this together.”
Those frontline caregivers are heroes, she said. They show up every day to care for others.
Fritz said whenever any of the residents needs something, the staff finds a way to fulfill their requests.
She said she misses the activities — like exercise classes, visits from preschoolers, visiting musicians and anything where a group of people can gather together.
But she’s keeping occupied, doing crossword and jigsaw puzzles, reading books and taking (socially-distanced) walks around the pond.
“I think everyone is doing really well,” she said. “Sure you have ups and downs. But that’s normal.”
With the spring weather, Fritz also enjoys going out into the main room, sitting on a couch and feeling the warmth of the sun.
“We can always find something to entertain ourselves if we want to,” she said.
Especially given the kindness of the staff and the larger community, “I can’t complain,” Fritz said. “We are lucky here.”
Fritz said she isn’t really worried about getting sick, after all, there is always something out there you can catch. And the main thing, in addition to a good mental attitude, she said, is to remember, “This is only temporary.”
As of Wednesday, Casey’s Pond reported no new positive cases of COVID-19 out of 118 tests administered. The four staff members and three residents continue to recover in isolation.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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Sheila Symons’ son got COVID-19 around Labor Day. He has since missed about five weeks of school, spent five days at Children’s Hospital in Aurora and has seen more doctors than an 11-year-old child should.