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Geer Adult Day permanently closed

NORTH CANAAN — After 42 years of providing seniors across the Tri-state region with an alternative to more expensive home care, the Geer Adult Day Center (ADC), which has been closed since March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will not be reopening. 

Kevin O’Connell, CEO of Geer Village Senior Community, made the announcement Sept. 1, citing safety concerns for participants, family and staff.

“Sadly, after much consideration we have concluded that we will not reopen Geer’s ADC program. The risk of infection as we transport highly vulnerable people across long distances and provide care in a confined space is just too great,” said O’Connell in a statement.

The nature of adult day centers is that personalized care is provided; in combination with participants who are at greater risk from exposure, it creates a “very fragile environment,” O’Connell said.

Financial component

The center’s closing has also resulted in the layoff of its director, although program staff have been “absorbed into the organization in other ways,” said Stacie Nicholas, Geer’s Development Director. 

The Adult Day Center had an enrollment of about 40 individuals and served an average of about 15 people daily.

Nicholas further noted that financial considerations, as well as space constraints that did not allow for adequate social distancing, were contributing factors. 

“The Adult Day Center was what we call a ‘loss leader;’ it provided a great mission but never really balanced its budget, so obviously that’s a factor.”

In July, Geer hired an architectural firm, Amenta/Emma, to conduct a reopening assessment on all campus facilities and a report on how each space can be adapted to conform with new Centers for Disease Control and state regulations around spacing, social distancing and cleaning. Geer also worked with national and state agencies that oversee and fund adult day centers to create a plan on how best to serve participants in the safest way possible in the future.

“Within our program and space configuration there is limited ability to provide social distancing for participants without significantly reducing the numbers served,” O’Connell said in his statement. 

“As well, many of the individuals have dementia-related illnesses which may reduce their ability to understand and follow social distancing and hygiene instructions.” 

Seeking alternatives

O’Connell noted that the decision to close the Adult Day Center, which was the second oldest continuously operating adult day center in Connecticut and one of the oldest in the country, does not mean that Geer is giving up on adult day services entirely.

“Going forward, we are focusing on new ways to help those who need support at home,” said O’Connell, by creating an entirely new division at Geer called Community Services, focused on safe, alternative programming for seniors. 

Geer has hired Lenore Consiglio as its new Senior Director of Community Services to lead this new division, which is in preliminary planning stages.

In a telephone interview Sept. 2, Consiglio, who lives in Meriden, Conn., and formerly served as vice president of admissions at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan before joining Geer about two months ago, said she is looking forward to implementing electronically based programming as well as activities and services focusing on health and wellness for seniors. 

In addition to virtual visits and wellness checks, “We could be delivering lunches, bringing people to appointments, and acting as a liaison between caregivers in the community,” said Consiglio, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) with more than 40 years of experience in the health care industry.

“We are saddened by all that has occurred, but take some comfort in knowing that no one at Geer has become ill due to COVID-19. That said, we cannot escape the fact that this virus remains dangerous for the people we care for and we cannot find a safe way to resume ADC operations,” O’Connell said. 

Despite the closing of its Adult Day Center, Geer’s multi-million dollar expansion project is going “gung ho,” and has not been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, said Nicholas.

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