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Shaffer Plaza adjusts routine for COVID-19

CHANGES — Cody McIntyre, a resident at Shaffer Plaza Apartments, lent a helping hand with landscaping outside his building this summer. Officials with the complex, which is operated by the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said COVID-19 concerns impacted usual outings for residents and restructured schedules now include more at-home activities to maintain health and social distancing. (Contributed photo)

STEUBENVILLE — The impact that COVID-19 has made on everyday life is obvious with the many changes in how people interact. From masks and social distancing to the reduction of public gatherings, these actions appear to be part of the new normal as a means to keep people safe, and similar steps are being taken at Shaffer Plaza Apartments since their clients are much more susceptible.

Natalie Baird, residential manager for the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said common outings for the facility’s 25 residents have been altered to ensure their safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gone are the days of attending public concerts and events and in their place are more activities closer to home.

“We have had to change our routines through the pandemic, especially being sensitive to those individuals who thrive with a routine,” she said. “We have worked very hard to ensure that we have adequate PPE and cleaning routines. There are also very strict protocols as far as who has access to the homes, community access and the use of PPE daily.”

She noted that officials have taken steps to significantly reduce public interaction in order to protect individuals from becoming infected.

“We currently are not participating in community activities with the exception o accessing drive-through restaurants to limit exposure for staff and individuals.”

Baird added that staff members strive to keep residents busy with movie nights at the Jeffco Center, walking on the grounds, playing basketball and having arts and crafts and barbecues. Calendars currently reflect more indoor offerings such as game night or simpler outings including van rides for ice cream or leaf peeping. She said the admission process for new individuals has also changed with more care given with the pandemic. Other activities have included landscaping and improvements around Homes B and C and four individuals helped with those projects.

“We also had summer help painting and completing landscaping with me,” she said, adding that work also included pulling weeds, planting flowers and carrying mulch.

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