Teamwork helps clients caught in perfect storm of COVID-19 and power outages

As if the social and emotional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic weren’t enough, during the evening and overnight hours of April 8, 2020, a large portion of Council on Aging’s service area experienced a line of severe weather. Many people in our region were left without power for 24 hours or more – including older adults living in several area senior apartment buildings.

COA first became aware of the issue around 11am on April 9 when a COA care manager received a call from a client at AHEPA 127-II Apartments, a subsidized senior housing community in Mt. Healthy. The area had been hit particularly hard by the storm with reports of road closures and downed trees and power lines. A similar community in the same vicinity, The Reserves at South Martin, was also impacted and without power.

Wheels started turning quickly to get relief to residents of these buildings who were already feeling the stress of isolation and worry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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  • COA care managers who had clients in the buildings began calling to conduct well checks.

  • COA’s Provider Services department jumped into action to have hot meals delivered to residents in the buildings.

  • Council on Aging CEO, Suzanne Burke, placed a call to Duke Energy to ask that the buildings be placed on Duke’s priority list for power restoration.

  • COA employees, Ken Wilson and Amber Daniels, purchased flashlights and secured bags of ice to distribute to residents in the buildings. The ice was important for older adults who needed to preserve medications.

With no power and growing concerns about spoiling food, COA reached out to LaRosa’s Pizzeria to see if they could provide hot meals to the residents in the buildings. Within just a few hours, LaRosa’s delivered hot spaghetti meals, including salad, bread sticks and condiments, to residents in both buildings – 115 meals in all. LaRosa’s returned the next day, April 10, when power was still out at one of the buildings.

Meanwhile, the COA team worked with meals provider, Meals on Wheels Southwest OH & Northern KY, to deliver a two-day supply of shelf-stable meals to residents at both buildings.

After the meals were delivered to AHEPA 127-II, the building’s manager let COA know the residents were extremely grateful for this support and had been worried because they had no way to prepare food for that day.

COA later received a letter of thanks and appreciation from AHEPA Management Company’s Regional Manager, Dale Parsons. In the letter, Parsons said, “For your agency to step up and help us out without even being asked is outstanding. This is truly a testament of how your agency cares about our senior community. We are eternally grateful and thankful to you and your staff for what you provided at a time of need.”