TOWN OF REDDING
COMMISSION ON AGING
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2020
REDDING COMMUNITY CENTER
Commission members present: Mary Dale Lancaster (Chair); Ingrid Heller, Janet Metzger,George Cohen, Jean Rexford, Hilda Rhodes, Kathy Brandt (taking minutes)
Dev Patel – Redding Social Services
Ruth Moran – Senior Center Program Coordinator
Guests: Doug Hartline, Redding Health Officer, Officer Mark DeLuca, Peter Cody, Michelle Stillman
The meeting was called to order at 9:03 am.
I. Approval of Minutes: The February minutes were approved by motion. Jean Rexford/Janet Metzger.
II. Public Comments: Officer DeLuca informed us that that the officer who is knowledgeable about fraud and other such issues is now available to give presentations.
III. Senior Center Program Coordinator, Ruth Moran:
Interesting February special events including Harp program. There continue to be important issues of space that limit programming. There is just not enough room. Almost every space is filled every day, so there is limited flexibility. Finances look stable, highest expense was the Harp Concert. Our programs are more similar to New Canaan’s than to those of Bethel or Easton. Computer room has been cleared out a bit and we may be able to use it for a speaker or other programs now. New Canaan charges by the month or course, works out to about 6 -10 dollars per session, but the participants commit to the whole program instead of pay as you go, like we do. Makes bookkeeping easier. Food for thought.
Future programs: Audubon program 3/25 is catching interest: Harbingers of Spring. Earth Day celebration 4/25, Alice Smith, Admin to Julia Pemberton, is in charge and asked seniors to do some origami to help decorate. Clay class makes flowers out of clay, they will be used in addition to orgami projects. Jean would like to take people outside for some classes. Discussion re: walking club. Because of virus, we need to keep seniors from getting isolated. It’s all about the common good. We need to help people to get here, get volunteers for driving to programs, etc. By volunteering, we can feel relevant. School closing, if it happens, not sure of effect on Senior Center. It may mean it, too, will be closed.
Ruth is retiring the end of June. She will continue teaching clay classes. She has made the entire center run very well, and together with the rest of the staff has made at Senior Center wonderful, warm and welcoming. All thanked Ruth for her excellent work. Ruth explained her love of what she does – just like a hostess for open house, her job is to make the center welcoming to all.
IV. Guest Speaker: Doug Hartline, Redding Health Officer
Re: COVID 19: Personal behavior is how it spreads. Hand-outs provided. School system on everyday basis has been instructed to look for anyone who doesn’t feel well and send them home. Need to have same policy and awareness applied here. At the Heritage Center, send people home if they look (or sound) sick. Keep people far apart. Novel virus: all new, we have no resistance, no vaccine. That makes it worse. CDC is taking the lead. Department of Public Health is also keeping track, providing updates weekly. Isolation = you are sick, you are kept away from people. Quarantine = potentially exposed to someone who is sick. Social distancing is very helpful. Governor recommends suspension of any event of 100 or more. Surveillance: keep an eye out. 2 ways to contract virus: get sneezed at, or, hand to surface contamination, then hand to face. Learn the Dracula cough, do not cough into your hand, but in the crook of your elbow.
Regarding the Senior Center: the virus is here in CT. We expected it. Administration and committee can decide what events should be continued or not. Card games, i.e., bridge, cards? Carry disease? Paper is not the most likely vector. Important for older people to socialize. If people do keep their distance, send the sick home, hand wash a lot, we should continue programs as much as prudent. We can work on a plan. Dev: we have a list of at risk seniors. If necessary, will enquire about sharing their info so committee can do calls, offer assistance to shut-ins. Easton has “library to go”, deliver books once a month to shut ins. We might talk to MTL about this. Doug: Not sure how long this virus will last, traditional viruses taper off in April. Watching China and Italy to see how this is best contained. Cleaning has been increased, especially doorknobs, etc. Concern re: surface contamination. Same day usage could be a problem. Uncertain how long the surface remains contaminated. rooms used: bathrooms, community room. Need to bring this up with Willy & the staff. Asking that Doug talk to them, as a health issue. They need a list of what they need to do. Kids are more likely to come here if the kids are out of school. Due to the heightened risk to seniors, it is important to make sure that use of the building by children is monitored. Doug: if there is reason enough to close schools, this building also may be closed. Ongoing, with both open, it’s good to increase the cleaning. He will discuss with Julia and staff. Ruth: luncheon issues: on Tuesdays have as many as 14 people, arms distance is not going to work. Could move to community tables: Doug says – move into larger room, fewer people at each table. Keep the distance. In terms of cleaning – list is good, should be posted in every room so all the instructors can observe it. Should send policy to all the instructors. Doug: it comes down to personal behavior. If we all behave prudently, it will be helpful. If we suspect someone is ill, besides sending them home, do we report it to anyone? Advice: Ill person should go home and call their doctor. If someone does test positive, we have to conduct contact tracing. If cases do start to come in rapidly, contact tracing will become difficult as Doug is Redding’s sole Health Officer. Ruth Moran questioned whether water fountains are problematic
V. Redding Social Services – Dev Patel:
Good use of food pantry, 10 visits. 12 oil requests. Timeline from state for oil is extended to April. Mild winter left $ on the table. Ride sharing. We are trying to determine how to figure out a system to help people get around . M7 is organization with professional drivers. Well regulated. People can split the cost. Expanding from just medical rides to social events. New Haven is $79 each way. Half off if you are disabled, but have to go through a process to approve disability at Trumbull Kennedy Center. So, if 4 people want to go to a play in New Haven, one with disability, $20 bucks each. Seems like a good deal. M7 works out of the South Coast, NH, Bridgeport, but also Hartford. All of their cars are wheel chair accessible, but medical services are NOT provided. They do door through door – can get picked up at your bedside and taken through door at doctor of hospital with a $30 surcharge. Instrumental in creating New Freedom Fund, that’s what provide the 50% off to disabled. Have to buy a card to take advantage of discount. Not sure at this time where you go for card. Previously, M7 was available to Redding residents going for medical to NH or Bridgeport. Those are still the primary areas. Now also, Norwalk. Process is ongoing. There are some bad reviews, because sometimes they are called in when the Medicaid service “Veyo” is unable to provide services. GoGo Grandparents, have had some issues, especially communication for finding houses in Redding.
Dev: Visiting Angels will come and pick up patient and take them to event and stay with them through event. Specialize in medical appointments, but have opened it up to some social events. Discussion: they also provide Home Health Aids. New tweak to take to doctors office, stay with you, bring you home again. Working on Peer to Peer program to create a way we can drive each other around. Our intern, Meredith has transportation, including peer-to-peer as her thesis project.
VI. Chairperson’s Report:
Chairs report: Asking Julia about getting a paid scribe for the Commission. Will follow up. Redding “Shares the Warmth” is well funded, we can use some of it elsewhere, but must be a service, not a program. The funds are primarily used for families.
Legislation: meeting in Hartford Friday re: Compassionate Choices about Aid in Dying. It has come close to passing. Meeting is being cancelled, letters and donations are welcomed. Can contact state senator or rep at any time to say you support this bill.
VII. Old Business: None
VIII. New Business: None
IX. Meeting adjourned: 10:20. Janet moved for adjournment, Kathy seconded.
The next COA meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 8 at 9:00 am at the Heritage Center.
Minutes taken by Kathleen Brandt