In an effort to minimize the risk of the novel coronavirus for older adults, whom health officials have deemed to be at higher risk, the Santa Clarita Valley senior center at Bella Vida has implemented changes for the hundreds of visitors it receives daily.
One of the biggest changes set to take effect on Monday is the nonprofit’s switch from in-house lunch meals to a drive-thru service, said Kevin MacDonald, the center’s executive director.
On Friday, the senior center offered its last in-house lunch meal, a service the nonprofit organization offers every day to an average of about 400 to 450 people.
The senior center has been tracking new developments of COVID-19 and has now created a master plan that includes changes to lunch meals, he said.
“We’ve been working with the county (of Los Angeles) and the city (of Santa Clarita) for our nutrition programs,” he said Friday. “Everything we’ve been working on is, how do we preserve the services to make sure seniors are taken care of at a time like this? So, we developed a master plan.”
Bella Vida drive-thru
Starting March 16, the senior center will utilize its large parking structure to create a drive-thru station where older adults can pick up fresh boxed lunches Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This service will be offered for individuals who have filled out a universal intake form. Registration forms for those who have not signed up will have a chance to sign up at the center.
The senior center already offers about 350 home-delivered meals daily during morning hours and will continue, said MacDonald.
“The home-delivered meals program is going to remain pretty much the same,” he said. “We’re increasing some protocols in that, of course. We’re going to be wearing gloves and doing some different things to assist them.”
The same service will also be offered to individuals who do not drive and instead depend on other forms of transportation, such as city buses or its Dial A Ride/Access program, on a temporary basis, he added.
Events, activities and services
All events and activities will be canceled but support services will continue.
“We’re here because we think people need support and services and some people are going to need some counseling and some people are going to need someone to talk to, but it just won’t be in large quantities,” said MacDonald.
With the implementation of these changes, the senior center is counting on about 95 volunteers and is not currently seeking additional volunteers.
Following guidelines set by the state and county, MacDonald expects recent changes, which also include enhanced cleaning of the senior center, to remain in place until May 1 for now.
MacDonald has made at least two public announcements to all visitors, to which he said they have responded positively.
Among them was Newhall resident Maria Geronimo, who brings a patient from Sylmar.
“My patient has ALS and so I think it’s great that there will still be services available. This is very convenient,” she said.