Facility responses to COVID-19 pandemic

Cathy Decker/Correspondent

Vashti Village, a facility run by the Mercer County Housing Authority, has a number of changes for its residents due to the pandemic declaration. The 60-apartment facility has 55 apartments rented out, but the office door is closed now (for social distancing). “We’re taking information by phone, fax, emails, etc.,” said Deb Krueger, administrator at Vashti. Phone number for the housing authority is (309) 582-5410.

   One change for residents there is that residents now have pick up their mail at the Aledo Post Office, rather than in their mail boxes inside the facility. Residents have the opportunity to designate someone else to retrieve the mail. “I’ve got some blank forms giving permission to hand over the mail to someone else,” said Krueger.

   Mail is still being delivered to citizens living in Mercer County, although facilities like nursing homes need to come to the post office and pick up any resident mail.

   Krueger said there has been an increase in cleaning at the facility with disinfecting, as well as locking doors. “We’re also selling toilet paper (to residents) at cost.”

   Mercer County has two nursing homes, which both have instituted visitor restrictions. Mercer Manor Rehabilitation LLC (formerly known as Mercer County Nursing Home), is a 92-bed facility that offers both short- and long-term residency. It is located at 309 NW 9th Ave., adjacent to the Aledo Genesis hospital. Only necessary vendors will be allowed into the home. “We continue to closely monitor all Centers for Disease Control and Illinois Department of Public Health advisories,” the FACEBOOK page for the facility says.

   Aledo Rehabilitation & Healthcare, 304 SW 12th St., is a private 80-bed facility which currently has 48 residents. It too has a visitor restrictions, unless approved by the administrator there.

   Brookstone, 405 SE 13th Ave., Aledo, is an assisted living facility. It has closed its doors to nonessential visitors as of March 1, unless approved by Chris DeFrieze, executive director.

   “We’re doing great,” DeFrieze said on Thursday, March 19. “We’re keeping busy with plenty of activities” for the 75 residents living at the facility which is currently full.

   Education on the COVID-19 virus has been given to all staff at Brookstone, which encourages frequent hand washing for residents and if a respiratory illness or fever comes about, the resident is encouraged to stay in his or her room. In addition all field trips in enclosed public areas are postponed.

   DeFrieze, who also is mayor of New Boston, said that city held an emergency meeting recently and agreed to shut down the community center, the weight room and city hall. There is a drop box outside city hall for paying bills.

   “We recently opened up the campground,” he said, “and we’re working on building a splash park as part of the campground.” He said the splash park, when opened, will be available for everyone.

   Childcare is one issue for parents who are still working. The Mercer County YMCA Children’s school “has remained open for working families that absolutely need child care,” said Lisa Clawson on Wednesday, March 19. “We’re following DCFS and CDC guidelines,” she said.

   The YMCA facility has also remained open as of March 20, although most previously scheduled classes were not being held. This has changed effective March 21, due to the governor’s proclamation to “Stay at Home” which now prohibits gyms from remaining open to the public.

   Mercer County Senior Center (MCSC), Aledo was notified March 11 to close its doors effective Friday, March 13 until further notice at the request of the Illinois Department on Aging.

Besides regular activities that happen at the senior center, congregate meals that were being served (through Project NOW) have ceased being served there. Senior Center staff will continue to provide services by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, call the center at 309-582-5492.

   Kim Schaefer, administrator at the senior center in Aledo, said that people who were having meals at the center are still having meals delivered, “There were 206 clients that used this service both in Mercer and Rock Island counties,” she said.

   Schaefer is working with a skeleton crew, with reduced office hours 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Any written correspondence with MCSC can be placed in the outside mailbox.

   “We have taken care of license plates,” she said. “I’m currently working on a new Medicare client.”

      All Illinois public and private schools were closed March 17 to March 30. This includes the Project NOW preschool located next to the Mercer County Health Department.

   The Edwards River Public Library closed its doors on Wednesday, March 18. The library is located at 412 E. Main St. Aledo. According to their Internet web page “all fines that would be assessed during the library closure will be waived and materials may still be returned in the book drop.” They are encouraging patrons to continue using digital services through Libby, Overdrive, and Axis360.

   Based on the proclamation to “stay at home,” all public libraries are closed until further notice.

  Genesis Health System opened a mobile collection sample site beginning Wednesday, March 18 in Davenport, Iowa. The site will only serve patients who have been referred there by a Genesis medical provider. Screening will be for COVID-19, seasonal influenza and strep.

There are many more cancellations that are happening on a daily basis. The post office, however, is still distributing the mail. The only comment received on this was “it is business as usual.”