Laura Dean Bennett
During this time of Covid-19 crisis, many aspects of our lives have changed.
But, like everyone else, senior citizens still need to eat, and those who have medical issues, transportation complications or are home bound still need services.
Pocahontas County Senior Citizens, Inc., from their Marlinton and Green Bank Centers, has the herculean task of caring for approximately 330 senior citizens in Pocahontas County.
PCSC Director John Simmons takes the responsibility seriously.
“We know that many Pocahontas County seniors depend on us, and we are happy and proud to be able to provide our services,” Simmons said.
“The staff and employees of PCSC have been and will continue to go the extra mile to provide excellent care and plenty of food for our seniors, especially those who are home bound,” he added.
In order to keep both staff and clients safe during the pandemic, a few changes had to be made to the programs.
“Each employee has been [potentially] exposing themselves to the virus, but stringent safety precautions are being used,” Simmons explained.
The centers usually provide help with meals, social activities, chronic disease information and classes, exercise programs, medical transport and homemaker services.
When not under health department guidelines for a pandemic, services included transportation to the Marlinton and Green Bank Senior Centers for congregate meals.
During the Covid-19 restrictions, the PCSC is still transporting seniors to both in-and-out-of-county doctor’s appointments.
For those aged and disabled who receive a Medicaid transportation card, PCSC is an approved provider through Logisticare.
PCSC also offers
• in home services which require a small cost-sharing payment. These programs provide for a caregiver to go into the homes of the seniors and assist them.
• the Lighthouse program, which focuses on caregiver assistance with bathing, grooming and light housekeeping.
• The FAIR program, which provides care for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, allows the family an opportunity to take a break or to provide assistance so that a family member may go to work.
• The Respite program also provides for a caregiver to stay with a senior while their family is taking a break or working.
• Nutrition and transportation are provided on a donation basis.
• Seniors are transported to doctor’s appointments and there are “essential” shopping trips available to grocery, dollar stores, pharmacies and banks.
One of the most valuable services for home bound seniors is the Meals on Wheels program which delivers nutritious, freshly cooked hot meals to 70 seniors in the county Monday through Friday.
“Three days a week we prepare and deliver five days’ worth of meals to a largely home bound group of our citizens,” Marlinton Site Supervisor Chip Adkins said.
“These people were once our teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses and farmers.
“They deserve the best we can do for them.”
As a 501(c)(3), Senior Citizens of Pocahontas County is always struggling to do the best for their clients and to make ends meet.
“We operate under a very tight budget from the Bureau of Senior Services and any donations for extra costs incurred during this virus pandemic would be greatly appreciated,” John Simmons said. “We want to thank all those who have helped us thus far.”
“Providing home cooked meals for our seniors and Meals on Wheels clients costs approximately $8.50 per meal,” PCSC fiscal officer Dottie Brock said.
“There’s about a $3.25 gap between the cost and our state reimbursement, support from the county commission, United Way of Greenbrier Valley and private donations,” she explained.
“Because of the Covid-19 emergency, we’ve been fortunate to receive USDA food packages, help from the National Guard and an additional grant from the United Way.
“Thank goodness, we’re still holding our own,” Brock said, smiling.
Another popular aspect of PCSC has always been the “congregate” meals and activities offered in the two PCSC dining rooms.
The Covid-19 pandemic may be preventing seniors from getting together at the Green Bank and Marlinton centers for meals, bible study, crafts and bingo, but it’s not stopping the meals from being served.
“Whether you call it “grab and go” or “to go” style, our seniors are still being served their meals,” Brock said.
County-wide, there are 150 “grab and go” meals being served daily, Monday through Friday.
“Until the health department allows our dining rooms to reopen, we’ll be serving the same meals we would have been serving inside, except we are providing them on a takeout basis,” she added.
There is an honor system for paying for one’s meal at the centers, as there are no set prices for the meals – they are served on a “donation only” basis.
“Our clients are asked only to pay what they can afford,” Brock said.
“Those who can afford to pay a little more, and support those who can’t.”
The meals that the Senior Citizen Centers turn out are homemade, nutritious and delicious.
This week, for instance, the centers are serving:
Monday: Breaded chicken sandwich, broccoli and banana pudding
Tuesday: Taco salad with salsa and sour cream and apple crisp
Wednesday: Chicken corn casserole, garlic bread and pineapple
Thursday: Barbecued pork chop, baked beans, carrots, roll, and blueberry cobbler
Friday: Pinto beans with chopped onions, spinach, corn bread and apple sauce
Green Bank Site Supervisor Sally Lovelace manages things at the Green Bank Senior Center – located at 4500 Potomac Highlands Trail in Green Bank. She can be reached at 304-456-5370.
Chip Adkins is the Site Supervisor at the Marlinton Senior Center, which is located at 20226 Seneca Trail between Marlinton and Edray. He can be reached at 304-799-6337.
Anyone over 60 years of age who wishes to join either the Green Bank or Marlinton program or take advantage of senior “to go” meals, may go to either center at noon, Monday through Friday.
All that is required is your name and date of birth.
“Anyone can come in, and we will happily do a little paperwork and sign them up,” Dottie Brock said.
Once the threat of Covid-19 has passed and the health department deems it safe, nutritious congregate meals and social activities will resume at both Marlinton and Green Bank sites.
“I’m happy to tell you that most of our senior citizens are trucking right along,” Brock said with a smile.
“We’re really proud of the way our staff and our seniors are coping with this crisis.”