facebook tracking pixel Senior care facilities on lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic | TheUnion.com

Senior care facilities on lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic

By the numbers

As of May 7

Number of COVID-19 cases in Nevada County: 41

Number in western county: 12

Number in eastern county: 29

Number of active cases: zero

Number of recoveries: 40

Number of deaths: 1

Learn more at http://www.theunion.com/coronavirus

Friday evenings at the Bret Harte Retirement Inn are usually reserved for a popular social event called Nip and Nibble.

Residents of the senior care facility enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a glass of wine and some live entertainment by a local performer.

But with the facility under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the residents at Bret Harte are now the ones providing the entertainment.

“Normally we would have live entertainment every Friday night. We would have entertainers come in, but we’ve had to discontinue that. But, they have created their own show,” said Patricia Collins, owner of Bret Harte Retirement Inn. “Instead, every Friday night they do a show-and-tell or do some kind of in-house entertainment themselves. They will share a story about something they’ve done in the past or something their children or grandchildren have done.”

This evening the theme is “travel stories.”

“It’s really brought them together as a community,” Collins said. “Whereas some of these people have been here for years but don’t know someone else’s name, only where they sit in the dining room, so it’s brought them together and they’re learning more about each other, and they’re really enjoying that.”

It’s a small sliver lining during an unprecedented time.

Bret Harte, along with the many other senior living facilities in the area, are charged with the care of a population with the highest risk for serious health complications due to COVID-19, and they are taking extraordinary steps to keep their residents safe during the pandemic.

Senior care facilities across the county are on lockdown, have ramped up their cleaning protocols, halted in-house visitation and have had to get creative when it comes to activities and entertainment in their effort to keep their residents happy and healthy.

“The biggest challenge is just keeping them in and keeping them safe,” said Collins. “We’ve been on lockdown, and have been on lockdown since the beginning of March. We went early, out of concern for the seniors.”


Many senior care locations locked down during the early stages of the pandemic, adding enhanced cleaning and safety protocols. None contacted by The Union reported a resident diagnosed with COVID-19.

Nevada County had 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday. Forty have recovered, and one person has died.

“The health and safety of our Grass Valley residents and employees is our first priority. We’re thankful that as of May 4, no residents of Atria Grass Valley have tested positive for COVID-19,” Mike Gentry, senior vice president of care at Atria Senior Living, said in an email. “We continue to follow the recommended guidelines from Nevada County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control to ensure the necessary steps are taken to protect the health of our residents and employees.”

To ensure the residents’ continued safety, facilities are being cautious when it comes to essential visitors to the facility as well as staff members.

“I don’t usually get involved in my staff’s home life, but I’m instructing my staff to be safe when they aren’t here working,” said Collins. “I’m just suggesting to everyone to continue to wear masks in public and keep up their social distancing.”


Facilities have had to get resourceful in an effort to connect residents to their loved ones.

“The biggest challenge is the fact that we are not able to allow visitors to come into the facility,” said Diana Haines, administrator at Spring Hill Manor in Grass Valley. “We do make arrangements for residents to use Zoom or some other social media to talk directly with their loved ones. Some of the loved ones come to the windows and talk to them. And, of course, there’s the good old telephone. But some of the residents really miss seeing their families and friends.”

At Bret Harte, Collins said family members regularly come to the door and then call from their cell phones to chat so they can physically visit, even if it’s through a glass door.

“It’s just the way it is,” Collins said. “But, (the residents) have all done really well with it and the family members have been great.”

Loneliness is one of the biggest problems facing seniors during the pandemic, according to Theresa Haleen, who serves as the chairwoman of the Elderly Care Providers’ Coalition and is the director of community relations for Help at Home Senior Care.

“One thing I’ve really noticed is the seniors right now are super isolated and feeling really lonely,” she said. “There’s a big need for help for the seniors. Call some of the nonprofits and see how you can help, because the seniors are super lonely right now.”

Haleen estimated there are around 540 seniors currently residing in licensed assisted living facilities in Nevada County, and another 200 to 300 who receive in-home care at their personal residences.


Facilities are preparing to be in lockdown for as long as it takes to ensure the safety of their residents.

“At this point we really don’t have a timeline,” said Haines. “We follow very closely the CDC and the Department of Public Health and county Health Department guidelines and suggestions. Whatever they put out, we follow that.”

As county and state shelter-in-place restrictions are eased for some businesses, many senior living facilities are keeping their lockdown protocols in place.

“There’s not a lot of discussion at this point of lowering those restrictions,” said Betsy Donovan, chief operating officer at the senior living facility Eskaton Village. “Senior living is probably going to be one of the last things that opens up or lifts visitation restrictions.”

Haines said caution is paramount in the coming weeks and months.

“Even as the rest of the community is opening up, we still have to be cautious because all it takes is one case for it to get into a facility like this, and then it goes like wildfire,” she said. “Our number one concern is our residents and their health, It would just take one, so we’re being very cautious.”

In late April the Sacramento Bee reported that Oakmont of Folsom Senior Living had an outbreak of COVID-19 in which 21 people — 16 residents and five staff members — were diagnosed.

Haleen said she’s been impressed by the way local senior care facilities and in-home caregivers have navigated the pandemic.

“I think they’ve done an awesome job,” Haleen said. “They’re all under lockdown. They’re sharing all the pictures of what they’re doing to keep their seniors active and involved, and finding ways for families to still communicate with them. This has been super hard on them, and I think they’ve just really stood out and are shining.”


Regional housing trust fund in the works for Nevada County

Nevada County looks to emphasize smaller units

No fears of housing density among planning officials

COVID-19 protocols strain Nevada County homeless shelter’s budget

Tenants, landlords arrange payment options during COVID-19 eviction ban

Patchwork of tenant protections intact for now

The high cost of homelessness in Nevada County

Nevada City collaborates with county and nonprofits to move campers off Sugarloaf Mountain

Nevada County housing market sees increased demand, limited inventory

‘I may have now but I might not tomorrow’: No uptick in Nevada County homelessness amid COVID-19, but future concerns linger

Nevada County graduates consider options in wake of COVID-19

Nevada County students receive more than $800,000 in scholarships

Graduating seniors in Nevada county weigh financial, academic concerns for college

Career education program adapts to meet needs of students

‘I just want to play’: Players, coaches, ADs and officials eye safe, speedy return of high school sports

‘Should I jump into a career?’ Many questions remain for students, teachers and administrators as the future draws nearer

Nevada County middle schoolers, high school underclassmen unsure what to expect next year

Support systems for Nevada County teens go virtual during pandemic

Sierra College summer enrollment not slowing

‘The best they could’: Nevada County Superintendent of Schools reflects on the school year, ponders what’s to come this fall

‘I can’t see the bottom now’: Administrators consider where and whether to make layoffs amid revenue shortage

‘These kids want to ball’: Youth sports organizations grapple with tough decisions regarding COVID-19 safety

Hamstrung: Nevada County summer sports scene hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County theaters go dark for the year

Movie theaters struggle to cover rent, utilities in an industry that typically operates with narrow profit margin

‘Planning for all of it’: Nevada City Film Festival moves online for this year’s event

Nevada County’s music festivals look to virtual events to build community, recoup finances

For Nevada County musicians, the show goes online

Nevada County artists adapt, host online galleries, concerts and workshops

Street fair cancellations in Nevada City, Grass Valley a huge economic hit

‘We are the recovery; we are essential’: Nevada County Arts Council survey reveals artists, art organizations are struggling

Who’s zooming whom? Creativity among Nevada County artists in the pandemic era

Nevada County Arts Council receives $112K Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education grant for new project

Nevada County nonprofit funding in jeopardy

Nonprofits struggle to serve clients during pandemic shutdown

Nevada County animal rescue groups see surge in fosters, adoptions

Nevada County’s thrift stores move ahead with reopening

Possible postponement, cancellation of Nevada County Fair would negatively impact several Nevada County nonprofits

Local nonprofits feeling the effect of canceled, postponed fundraising events due to COVID-19

Feeding Nevada County: Effort to help those hungry bolstered by partnerships between nonprofits (VIDEO)

Nevada County youth organizations adjust to public health requirements

Volunteer work faces changes at Nevada County nonprofits amid restrictions

‘Do you have reserves?’ Still much uncertainty over how nonprofits will fare in coming months, years

Government business continues in isolation during COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County, cities collaborate to reopen safely

Wildfire prep in Nevada County continues virtually during pandemic

‘This is why we signed up’: Librarian, homeless shelter manager continue working during pandemic

Financial aid offers much-needed relief in western Nevada County for those who can get it

Grass Valley trims staff in response to COVID-19 shutdown

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

Nevada County property tax on par despite pandemic

Nevada County health workers say they currently have sufficient supply of personal protective equipment

Hospice of the Foothills continues providing end-of-life care during COVID-19 crisis

Senior care facilities on lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic

Residents of Nevada County senior living communities staying connected

‘Continue to plan and prepare’: Hospital analyzes finances, anticipates federal funding to ensure financial stability

Nurses in Nevada County and the region talk about why they love their jobs

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed COVID-19 case data

Officials: Testing is key in calls to reopen in Nevada County, across California

Nevada County doctors change approach to providing care due to COVID-19

The trifecta: Public health experts recommend testing, contact tracing and supported isolation to phase into a reopened world

Investigating the impact: Lack of revenue, uncertain return date causes concern for arts and entertainment venues

Impacts of Idaho-Maryland mine to be revealed soon

Nevada County artists discuss how COVID-19 shutdown has affected them

‘The arts are essential’: Center for the Arts launches emergency relief fund

Real estate sales strong in Nevada County despite challenges

No slowdown seen in Nevada County construction industry despite COVID-19 lockdown

Nevada County government, home improvement and real estate representatives talk business during COVID-19

‘I’d like to place an order’: In light of COVID-19, the demand for home delivery services in Nevada County is at an all-time high

Grass Valley, Nevada City first to feel COVID-19 economic hit

See you soon? Small business owners struggle, but are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow in Nevada County

Nevada County businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Nevada County health care providers pivot on financial tight rope

‘A sudden and dramatic downturn’: Nevada County economy will be hurt for longtime following coronavirus slowdown, expert says

‘A recession, let alone a depression’: Western Nevada County businesses apply for federal loans, but most have yet to receive money

Nevada County businesses, governments, nonprofits navigate uncertain times, worry what’s ahead




Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com or call 530-477-4232.

More Like This, Tap A Topic

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.