How We're Coping With COVID-19 at Mountain Meadows
Our experience at Mountain Meadows since the Oregon Governor ordered a statewide response to the Coronavirus Pandemic March 24 tells a great deal about the advantages of living in a self-owned and self-directed planned community of active adults. We have found substitutes for many activities and services that we have had to give up temporarily, and have found new ways of doing things that we will continue to enjoy after all of this is over. Overall, we count ourselves fortunate to live where we do.
What has not changed are the basic needs of a full and healthy life in the active senior years around which this community was designed almost 25 years ago: nutrition, exercise, intellectual challenge, companionship and meaningful activities. With some ingenuity and resilience, we have been able to adapt so that we still find our lives healthy and satisfying.
On May 19, as the seriousness of the pandemic became clear, the board of the Mountain Meadows Owners Association called a town hall meeting of the community with most management staff members present to talk about what changes might be necessary in our life style. Little did we know that would be the last meeting of the community in the Mt Ashland Room, our largest gathering space, for some time to come. The following Monday, March 23, the governor of Oregon issued a state-wide shelter-in-place order for all but essential workers.
We were amazed and impressed at how fast the on-site management staff responded. By Tuesday evening the dining room and kitchen staff announced that the dining room would be closed. Starting with lunch Wednesday, the first regular meal of the week, the new system was in place. Residents would email or call in their food orders and the meals would be delivered in the same manner that had been used for residents who had been unable to come to the dining room.
Within only a few days, the few glitches had been ironed out, and now the dining and kitchen staff is delivering an average of about 175 meals for every one of the five regular main meals each week, Wednesday – Sunday, with meals arriving hot and ready to eat before 5 pm every evening and at noon on Sunday.
Anticipating closure of the Clubhouse, which meant no access to the library, residents were encouraged at the community meeting to check out a few extra books, which they did over the weekend, providing reading material for the interim. As State restrictions changed, the Library Committee checked in all of those books and reopened the library for limited hours each week under social-distancing rules so that residents can again take advantage of our excellent collection of books, CDs, and videos.
Since the closure, we haven’t been able to hold any of the 10-15 meetings that normally would be taking place each week in the Clubhouse, but many of us have gotten very adept at hosting and attending meetings via video teleconferencing. Thank goodness for excellent internet service in Ashland. These video teleconference meetings have turned out to be reasonable substitutes for face-to-face meetings in the Clubhouse.
In addition to board and committee meetings, our bimonthly Chautauqua gatherings have gone to a weekly schedule with at least 20 residents gathering on the screen every Thursday afternoon to discuss current affairs and important issues, and a more social gathering is hosted by our resident services manager and Clubhouse receptionist every Wednesday morning to chat and share ideas about what we’re doing with our newfound spare time.
When the Clubhouse was re-opened for access to the Library, we were also able to open our well-equipped Workshop and craft room on the lower floor, and our Game Room adjoining the Fitness Center. Though these spaces can only be used by a limited number of people on a sign-in/sign-out basis, hobbyists are appreciative of the opportunities to use these facilities on a safe basis.
Initial Oregon State restrictions required that we close the Fitness Center and Pool, but our Fitness manager filled in admirably with a combination of exercise tips in the Weekly Update newsletter and bulletin, which most of us now receive online every Friday, online exercise sessions done using the same system as for regular meetings, and exercise sessions on Hunter Green in front of the Clubhouse nearly every morning. In September, when restrictions eased, we were able to reopen the Fitness Center for restricted use, with residents allowed to check in, have their health and temperature checked and use the facilities of the Fitness Room under socially distanced conditions, with masks and with the exercise equipment distanced and separated by plastic barriers. The Pool will re-open under similar restrictions on November 3.
But one of the most positive aspects of living in Mountain Meadows under these circumstances is our open campus of contiguous neighborhoods around our park and with easy access to open space nearby. For many of us, an early morning or evening walk around the community, through our four-acre park and in the adjoining scenic open space overlooking Ashland, has become a regular part of our routines. Out walks get us out in the fresh air and often give us an opportunity to stop and chat at a safe distance from friends we encounter on the trail past the community garden and up to the top of the hill or through North Mountain Park right next us.
The community gardening group hasn’t had to interrupt its routines at all, with the assigned raised beds of the Kitchen Creek Community Garden ready to be cleared and planted. Now, three months after the closure, those beds are thriving and the flowers and vegetables are a visual treat. In addition, the group created a gathering place with properly distanced chairs and benches under the shade trees at the east end of the garden and invited all residents of the community to enjoy the space as a healthy and friendly alternative to staying inside alone, as many people in other regions must do these days.
But most of all, the companionship that comes from living with almost 300 other people who have shared interests and experiences has been very rewarding. The craftsman style of our homes is particularly appropriate now, as we can sit on our porches at home or walk along the sidewalks and chat with our neighbors without taking risks of being too close.
All of these measures, we must say, have not been particularly onerous, and in fact have given us a greater appreciation for everything we have. And all of this has paid off. Thanks in large part to the flexibility and responsiveness of the on-site staff, our community leaders and our residents, there have been no reported cases of Covid-19 among our 285 residents in the three months since the closure. As progress is made on controlling and eventually preventing this disease, we can also expect that – though circumstances have been challenging – we will be able to go back to the best of the old while maintaining many new habits we’ve been acquiring at Mountain Meadows since closure.
Current Mountain Meadows COVID-19 policies
The Mountain Meadows Owners Association Board of Directors and the RCM staff are working very hard to keep thingss as normal as possible while keeping everyone safe and healthy. We are aware that some other 55+ communities in the Rogue Valley are opening other facilities, including dining rooms; However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Mountain Meadows is unique in that residents do not have to be on total lockdown as with some other communities in the area. Residents here have access to public areas outside our community and also have outsiders visiting. That is a good thing, and that is what has kept many of you sane during this global pandemic. However, because of those considerations, the Board is choosing to take a very conservative approach to re-opening our common facilities. That is being considerat and protecting each one of you. Thank you for your patience as the Board continues to evaluate our guidelines.
Access to Common Facilities will be restricted
In line with Governor Kate Brown's executive orders, March 25 the Board closed access to the Clubhouse to all residents, owners and guests, including the Mt. Ashland Room, meeting rooms, Game Room and Pool. Only authorized personnel will be allowed in these areas. The Community Library, Fitness Center, Wood Shop and Craft Room are open during limited hours and under strict Covid-19 safety procedures. All of these areas will be sanitized frequently and hand sanitation stations will be available throughout the working areas. Face masks will be worn at all times by everyone in the Clubhouse and Fitness Center.
The shared elevator between the Clubhouse and Parkside will be restricted to the Parkside building only.
Please know, however, that the management staff will be on-site to assist where possible, including two staff members on weekend. We encourage you to contact us via phone or email and not visit the clubhouse unless it is an urgent maintenance matter. Contact phone numbers and emails for Staff are unchanged and available elsewhere on the site. While on-site, staff members will be answering the phones and cleaning the highly used areas including the Parkside and Pavilion common elements. These restrictions and new schedule will be in place until further notice.
There will be a box mounted at the front of the Clubhouse for you to drop off payments or any other correspondence.
Weekly Updates and Menus will be distributed primarily by email
The Weekly Update and the weekly food menu will be distributed to most residents via email and available on the resident website. However, residents without access to email or internet will will have the printed version distributed to their front doors.
Food Services will be by pre-order and delivery only
Morrison will continue to prepare and deliver food and are using stringent safety precautions including wearing gloves, masks, washing hands constantly and monitoring Dining staff temperatures. The weekly menu will be distributed on Monday, lunches and dinners will be delivered to residences, and residents are asked to submit their orders for their meals by 4:30 pm the day before that meal. Ordering for the whole week at one time is preferred, but orders can be submitted just for one day ahead.
Community Library is open under Covid Safety Procedures
The Community library is now open for residents to check out books, magazines, audio book CDs and video DVDs, though the Clubhouse is still now open for formal or informal social gatherings.
1. Library hours are 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
2. Residents will need to use the Sonitrol key fob to gain access to the Clubhouse; the Library is open to residents only.
3. Face masks will be worn by all residents while in the Clubhouse.
4. Management will provide hand sanitizer, wipes and latex gloves to use when in the library. A station with these items will be set up near the Library.
5. Signs to remind residents of procedures have been hung in the Library area. Residents need to follow the signage.
6. A maximum of two people at a time will be allowed in the Main Library. One person at a time will be allowed in the Periodical Room. Others will need to wait their turn in the Mount Ashland room while still maintaining social distance.
8. Residents will use a sanitary wipe to clean the pen before and after entering information to check out a book or DVD. Residents may bring their own pen.
9. Residents will return items to the cart as usual and librarians will wear gloves to shelve books and wipe return DVDs.
The Library Committee and on-site staff look forward to seeing you return and we will warmly welcome you.
Woodshop and Craft Room open on a limited basis
The Woodshop and Craft Room on the loading dock area of the Clubhouse are open during the same hours that the Library is open, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., and Tuesday and Thursday.1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. These rooms may be accessed by authorized users through the lower level entrance to the Clubhouse, not through the main entrance. Use is limited to two people at a time in the Workshop, with social distancing maintained and masks worn at all times. Use of the Craft Room is limited to one person at a time.
Fitness Center open, but with restrictions
The Fitness Center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 8:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. under the State of Oregon’s Public Health Division’s Specific Guidance for Fitness-related Organizations.
Check-in times are between classes Carol Lee teaches and her lunch. These times are:
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
8:00 – 8:15 AM
9:45 – 10:15 AM
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM
1:45 – 3:45 PM
Wednesday and Friday
8:00 – 8:45 AM
9:45 AM – 12:15 AM
1:45 – 3:45 PM
Protocols for FItness Center Use
Most importantly, if you have traveled, or are sick, or have been close to anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or are at an increased risk for severe illness, you are asked to stay home and do not enter the Fitness Center.
Other protocols are as follows
- Maximum number of participants in the Fitness Center at one time is six.
- Sanitize hands in the foyer before entering the Fitness Center.
- Enter through the front door and exit through the back door.
- Follow the large orange one-way arrows taped to the floor.
- Maintain 6 feet of physical distance from other individuals in Fitness Center.
- At all times, wear a mask or a mask AND a face shield.
- Carol Lee will check you in. There is a waiver for you to sign.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds and/or use hand sanitizer during and after your workout.
- Clean and sanitize all equipment before and after use.
- Only one individual at a time in the locker rooms. Sinks and toilets are available.
- The Fitness Center is open for residents and owners only.
- Guests, massage therapists, and foot nurses, are not to enter the Fitness Center.
- Caregivers must wear a mask and gloves at all times, stay close to the resident they are working with, and maintain 6-foot distance from other individuals in Fitness Center.
- Water fountains are turned off. Please bring your own drinking water.