Some elder care facilities restrict visits and outings

Naval Reservist Arthur Volmrich shakes hands with Stewart Spotts, commander of Lake Placid’s American Legion post, in November 2018 at Elderwood of Uihlein at Lake Placid. Navy veteran Tom DeLorn sits at front left. (Photo provided by Elderwood of Uihlein)

Some local elder care facilities are taking precautions amid the novel coronavirus spread, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic Wednesday. One, Saranac Village at Will Rogers, is limiting outings for residents, and another, Elderwood of Uihlein, is shutting down visits completely.

COVID-19 poses the most danger to the elderly and very young.


Gregor Kitzis and Kate Dillingham of the Ouluska Pass Chamber Ensemble play for residents of the Saranac Village at Will Rogers in August 2017. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

Elderwood has issued temporary visitor restrictions at all of its senior residences in New York — including Elderwood of Uihlein at Lake Placid — as well as in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Currently, there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at any Elderwood elder care facility, but the decision was made based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other health agencies, Elderwood said in a press release.

No unnecessary visitors will be allowed at these facilities. Those individuals deemed necessary, including Elderwood staff and vendors, must complete a health screening prior to moving through the facility. That includes reviewing recent international travel and evaluating any signs or symptoms of respiratory illness. Anyone who has traveled to an area of increased incidence of COVID-19 or who displays symptoms will be denied access.

Family members and friends of residents are asked to postpone visiting residents within Elderwood care communities unless absolutely necessary. Permission to do so from the facility will be required.

Elderwood is encouraging the use of technology such as Facetime, Skype and phone calls to keep in touch with loved ones.

Veronica Rivers, an 84-year-old resident of Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake, watches as Norah Dew-Pratt, 2, gets glitter on an ornament, and herself, at an inter-generational craft event in December 2019. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

Additionally, Elderwood has suspended student clinical rotation programs, volunteer activities, group activities at the facilities and group outings into the community.

“Our staff is highly trained in addressing the unique health care needs of seniors and those with weakened immune systems,” Elderwood Chief Nursing Officer Rebecca Littler said in the release. “We are focused on our residents’ health and are highly prepared to provide care and prevent the spread of infection.

“These measures display an abundance of caution, that we believe are prudent given the impact COVID-19 has had on populations like those in our senior communities.”

Will Rogers

Saranac Village at Will Rogers, in Saranac Lake, is a supportive senior apartment center rather than a nursing home such as Elderwood of Uihlein. It will not restrict visitations, but it is ending non-medical outings and public events at the facility.

“Right now, we are not under quarantine, and we’re not having visitor restrictions,” Executive Director Jamie Whidden said. “We host a lot of programs here. We’re a performance center for the community, and we’ve been canceling those events. People can still visit their families here, but we are limiting the comings and goings around public programs.”

Community groups like the bridge club will no longer meet at Will Rogers, he said.

Outings for residents such as shopping, field trips and going out to eat have been canceled.

“We’re still providing transportation to medical appointments,” he said.

Whidden said there is no timeline as to when the restrictions will end.

Mercy Living Center

Mercy Living Center is changing its visitor policy after more guidance from the state and health officials, Adirondack Health Communications Director Matt Scollin said Thursday afternoon. Scollin said the elder living facility will be limiting visitations at its facility, and added that a more detailed policy will be released in the near future.


At Keene Valley Neighborhood House, Assistant Administrator Deb Kent referred a question about restrictions to Executive Director Rich Rothstein, who had left the office for the day Wednesday.

The Tupper Lake Adult Center is not making any changes to its events or policies currently, according to director Ray Bigrow. He said that with no confirmed cases in the area, there is not a high concern, but if there is an increased spread of the virus he may consider changing things.


Staff Writers Elizabeth Izzo and Aaron Cerbone contributed to this report.


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