Sudbury senior centres close in wake of positive COVID-19 case
SUDBURY -- One of Sudbury's busiest senior centres is going to be closed for the next three weeks after a local man tested positive for the virus at the centre of a global pandemic, COVID-19.
The Parkside Older Adult Centre made the decision Friday morning, closing its doors effective immediately, out of what it's calling an abundance of caution.
"We've been monitoring this outbreak carefully over the last several days or weeks, and basically we are a little more sensitive to this virus because it does affect our members, who are over the age of 50. Our average age is much closer to mid-60s, so it does affect those people who have a greater risk, to those who are our clientele," said manager John Richer. "We'll be closed to all clientele. So rentals, members, program participants. During that time, we will be continuing with our cleaning and disinfecting of the centre."
Richer says this will give them a chance to make sure the place is free of any harmful germs.
"Our board of directors will be meeting on March 31 and we'll monitor the progress of the virus, at that time and make decisions further as the information becomes available," he said.
"We're advising people to stay at home. However, from what I understand, it's possible that a carrier won't even know they're sick until it's too late, and they can transmit that virus to other people," Richer added.
The decision to close the centre caught a few members off-guard, who were coming to the Parkside for its daily programming.
"I was a little surprised, but the way things are going, I'm not surprised too," said Yolande Gervais, a member with Parkside. "Except, I got to the gate and they wouldn't let me in, but I told them I have an appointment and they let me in. Three weeks, it's not too bad, as I don't have to come very often."
"I come and get my books here, so I'm trying to grab a few so I can take them home. It's going to impede a lot of activities for people," she said.
According to Richer, they have 1,000 members and typically see upwards of 300 individuals on any given day.
"This is about social distancing and this is what we're practicing over the next three weeks," the centre's manager said.
The closure coincides with the school break now being imposed by the province of Ontario.
It's a similar situation over at the Ukrainian Seniors Centre on Notre Dame Avenue, which closed on Wednesday due to the virus.
"Just as a precaution, we usually have walk-ins for pyrogy and cabbage roll orders, but unfortunately we're not able to accommodate that this week. We will review again Monday. For the housing side, residents have been told to stay home as much as possible, limit visitors and do their part. We all have to do our part, "said Ukrainian Seniors Centre manager Anna Johnston. "We've also cancelled our psyanky workshops this Saturday and next Saturday so hopefully things settle down a little bit."
"The PSWs on staff are closely monitoring everything and the NE LHINs have released a screener, which they share with their clients. We also have a small retirement home and they're even more vulnerable there, so the screenings are being done there for visitors," said Johnston.
Ramona Bendick and Helen Antonini are residents at the Ukrainian Seniors Centre.
"It's not a good thing that's happening and it's getting scary. People are reacting to it, like buying toilet paper. We have to look after our food supply, never mind toilet paper," said Bendick. "I've never seen anything like this. We're washing hands all the time, wiping things down, as much as you can, spraying it."
"It's very sad to hear this is going on. We're hoping people do all the precautions they're supposed to and be careful of what goes on," said Antonini. "I wash my hands a dozen times a day, if not more. I have wipes on my stove. As I go into the apartment, I use them right away. I spray the doorway and just being careful."
Antonini says she's concerned just as much about everyone else as she is about herself. She says she's never seen anything like this in her 90 years.
One Eleven Senior Citizen's Centre in Sudbury is currently operating on a limited schedule.
The Canadian Association of Retired Persons, also known as CARP, has also been cancelling events out of what it also calls an abundance of caution.
"Reducing exposure is the best method to avoid the virus. Of course, sensible hygiene methods such as hand washing and avoiding touching your face, which is admittedly difficult, are things individuals can do," said Hugh Kruzel, CARP chair in a statement.
Kruzel says Sudbury has one of the highest proportions of older adults than any other Ontario city, which means it could be the most at risk from the current pandemic.