Residents at the Grace Ridge Retirement Community are feeling the impact of coronavirus precautions as the administration at the facility has issued what is, in effect, a “shelter-in-place” policy.
In a memo obtained by The News Herald, Chris Romick, executive director of Grace Ridge, asked all “Independent Living” residents to self-isolate for 14 days. The facility has temporarily suspended visitation and asked contractors working on construction there to gather their equipment and to not return until further notice.
Another memo stated that the dining room in the main building would close starting Wednesday, March 25, and that two prepared meals per day would be delivered to every apartment and cottage.
Some of the residents shared what the situation is like at Grace Ridge and how they are coping with the isolation.
Edward Phifer III lives in a cottage at Grace Ridge with his wife, Becky. He said they have only ventured outside to walk their dogs since being asked to stay at home.
“Where I’m situated, I can walk down to the river, and there’s a road-bed I can hike on,” Phifer said. “It’s a good hourlong hike, and there’s nobody down there.”
He explained how food delivery to the cottages works.
“We prepare breakfast and lunch, and dinner is the only meal we get from Grace Ridge,” Phifer said. “They give you a menu, and you fill the menu out, and they pick it up and bring you what you’ve ordered. I’ve got a lawn chair set up in my carport that they can put my food on, and I don’t have to see anybody, and they don’t have to see me. It’s working out well.”
He and his wife have found several ways to entertain themselves while sequestered in the house.
“We’ve got a nice place here, and both of us are talking with each other more than we used to,” Phifer said. “We read, and we’ve got the dogs to talk to. Both of us play musical instruments — she plays the cello and piano and sings, and I play guitar and harmonica, and I can kind of sing — so we’ve got a four-piece band and a choral section. We’ve got a nice deck out back, and when the weather’s nice, we can sit out there.”
He praised Romick for taking the proper precautions to keep residents healthy.
“I think he’s doing the right thing under very difficult circumstances,” Phifer said. “I think he’s doing a good job — a very delicate balancing act between keeping us safe and keeping us happy. He’s got to protect us, and he knows that, but he also wants to make it as pleasurable as possible. They do whatever they can to keep us satisfied.”
Judge Claude Sitton, who lives in an apartment in the main building with his wife, Jo, described how he is keeping busy.
“I’m working puzzles, reading books, making telephone calls and watching TV,” Sitton said.
He also thinks the precautions are necessary.
“It’s very strict, but I’m sure that they don’t want lose anyone here,” Sitton said. “There are people who are really vulnerable downstairs (in the health center).”
Rosemary Enos also lives in the main building and is the librarian for the facility’s nearly 4,000-volume library. She has supervised transition of access to the library to delivery only. Residents order the books they would like to check out, and the books are taken directly to their rooms.
She said residents are still allowed to come out of their rooms to pick up their mail downstairs.
“If we run into somebody, we laugh and stay six-feet apart, have a good time for a minute, and then go back to our room,” Enos said.
She said family members and friends of residents may drop off supplies for them, so they don’t run out of things. Residents also are free to make use of local delivery services. Additionally, Grace Ridge has set up a commissary onsite where residents can get common grocery items, such as milk and bread.
Enos enjoys being served food in her apartment.
“Yesterday, was breakfast day, all day, and we got enough breakfast for two days, plus extras,” she said. “Then the snack cart came around. That’s a surprise — you never know when that will come. They have fruit and all kinds of good stuff. It’s like a five-star hotel. They’re taking really good care of us.”
She shared how she is adjusting to the solitude.
“I’m loving it, because I love to read,” Enos said. “I’ve got 200 books here, and probably haven’t read half of them. I have family that calls. And somebody from the staff calls everybody every day just to see how they’re doing.”
The quarantine has given her time to simply enjoy the view.
“I feel like the queen up here on the fifth-floor,” Enos said. “I look out on Highway 18 and South Mountain, and I just watch the big trucks and the cars.”
She also thinks Grace Ridge made the right call.
“I think they’re doing a great job,” Enos said. “This is something that has to be done.”
The memo said the policies would be re-evaluated after the 14-day period, but none of the residents interviewed were confident that the restrictions would be able to be lifted at that time. They are, however, content to cooperate as necessary for however long is needed to keep each other safe.
“Everybody knows it’s not going to be an easy road,” Phifer said. “It’s going to go on for a while.”
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