Jade Fuqua and Janet Marsh preparing meals at the Shovel and Spoon for the Sheridan Senior Center. PHOTO COURTESY OF JANET MARSH

Coming together

Elder Liaison Project started, Shovel and Spoon helping with senior meals

Sometimes people just need to know that someone cares and is thinking about them, Dr. Roman Hendrickson at the Ruby Valley Medical Center (RVMC) said. Additionally, sometimes people need to be given a vessel for caring for others as they are able.

The coronavirus has made its way into Madison County in a way not seen at the onset of the pandemic. Cases are continuously on the rise, close contacts are growing as are those in quarantine and doctors are pleading with county residents to stay home.

“We’ve got to be prepared to help those people who need our help,” Dr. Hendrickson said.

Helping others is a pillar of the Sheridan Senior Center’s mission. The senior center shut down on Nov. 9 due to staff members having to quarantine. Janet Marsh, owner of the Shovel and Spoon in Sheridan, has been making meals for seniors to fill the gap temporarily.

“Janet has been a godsend as far as feeding the seniors goes. She started doing our meals on the 12th so our seniors only missed three meal deliveries…what a blessing to live in a small town where people care about each other,” Shirley Sand, head cook at the senior center, said.

The Shovel and Spoon had the catering capacity already and could mobilize with short notice, Marsh said. It was a natural way for her to help out. Community members have volunteered to deliver meals, informed by Sand who put together a list of her regular clients.

“The whole community are the heroes,” Marsh said. The Sheridan Senior Center is scheduled to reopen on Nov. 30.

Another effort to provide for community members took form a couple weeks ago.

Valerie Marshall, nurse at RVMC, voiced her concerns to Dr. Hendrickson about some patients in quarantine that may not have anyone to check up on them. The idea for an Elder Liaison Project was brought to the CEO of RVMC, Landon Dybdal, and was approved.

The Elder Liaison Project used health department data as well as the knowledge of those involved to compile lists of adults over 65 that may have gone into quarantine. The goal is to support these individuals by using resources that already exist in the community, such as the food bank and the wood bank. Not everyone has all they need for 14 days on a short notice, Dr. Hendrickson pointed out.

“We’ve got all these really great volunteer groups in the area, and we’re just trying to tap into those resources,” he said.

Through the Elder Liaison Project, RVMC will be checking on elderly residents that have gone into quarantine to make sure they have enough food, adequate heating, medication and that their pets are fed and well. The plan is to call the individuals each day to check in, which also serves as a way to remind those quarantined that people are thinking about them.

The project is not just about healthcare, but a person’s overall well-being.

Dr. Hendrickson mentioned the program does not need to be limited to seniors. Anyone who is brought to their attention will be included.

A handful of Elder Liaison Project members are making the calls and 10-15 seniors are on the list as of last week. If anyone wishes to help out, Dr. Hendrickson said they can contact Marshall at RVMC.

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