Senior citizens more at risk for coronavirus, local community centers prepare for outbreak

SPOKANE CO., Wash. — Seniors are most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Several senior living facilities and activity centers in our area are trying to be proactive. That’s because out of eight deaths in King County, five were from a nursing facility. The victims were all between 50 and 80 years old.

It was business as usual at the Southside Senior Community Center Tuesday afternoon. A group of ladies were getting their fix of mahjong with their friends.

While that is normal, the signs about the coronavirus in the lobby are not.

Ellen Yones tells 4 News Now she’s not concerned about a possible outbreak.

“I feel healthy, I feel, I’m not worried about—I’m trying not to touch my face,” Yones said, “I’m trying to take precautions.”

The Southside Senior Community Center is trying to take precautions, too, by making hand sanitizer available for those who visit.

At Touchmark on the South Hill, a senior living community, they’ve had hand sanitizer stations available even before the coronavirus. Just like the Southside Senior Community Center, you walk into Touchmark and are greeted by another sign about the coronavirus.

“We’re following the health department recommendation as far as frequent hand washing, sanitizing. Cleaning off and disinfecting common surfaces, things like that to be proactive as possible to prevent the spread of that respiratory disease,” said Selma Kruse, the director of nursing for Touchmark.

The senior living community is staying away from group activities that require touching, like puzzles.

“To just kind of prevent multiple people touching things is you know, our biggest priority there and keep germs away,” Kruse said.

For our seniors in need, who get meals from the Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels, they will still be getting their food.

“If a massive absenteeism from volunteers or staff were to come about, we could potentially turn some of our daily hot deliveries to seven frozen meals a week. At the end of the day, we have to make sure everybody eats and so that would still be our priority,” said Jeff Edwards, the executive director for the Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels.

Social interaction is crucial for the meal delivery organization. If an outbreak were to happen and volunteers would have to deliver seven frozen meals once a week instead of the hot daily meals, Edwards said they’d still talk to their clients.

“That social interaction is a big part of what we do, so it’s really more than just a meal,” Edwards said. “We’d still call them daily and check on them to maintain that social interaction.”

All three of these places encourage those who aren’t feeling well to stay home and away from crowded places, especially the senior communities – just in case.

They are all working and talking with the Spokane Regional Health District and are watching the situation closely.