Dover’s Modern Maturity Center gets set for stay-at-home adjustments

Workers for Meal on Wheels at Dover’s Modern Maturity Center are busy preparing double meals – both hot and cold – for the facility’s clientele this week. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — The Modern Maturity Center has done this whole COVID-19 shutdown thing before, so now it is even more prepared as it gets ready to close again for all nonessential programs and congregate activities at the end of the business day Friday.

However, the Dover center’s popular Meals on Wheels program will be motoring on.

Carolyn Fredricks, president and CEO of the MMC, said the facility is taking Gov. John Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health’s new stay-at-home advisory seriously in hopes of containing even greater spread of the coronavirus, which has hit record numbers of positive cases in December.

Last week, Gov. Carney strongly advised all Delawareans to avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside their household from Dec. 14 through Jan. 11, in an effort to interrupt the dangerous winter surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Delaware.

“A vaccine is on the way but, make no mistake, we are facing the most difficult few months of this crisis,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “I know we’re all tired of COVID-19 — but it’s not tired of us. We’re pleading with Delawareans to do the right thing. Wear a mask. Do not gather with anyone outside your household. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.”

Ms. Fredricks knows the clientele at her facility, at 1121 Forrest Ave., are all comprised of older ages and make up the most vulnerable population when it comes to COVID-19 fatalities.

“Because of the population we serve and because of the governor’s stay-at-home advisory, we just felt like, right now, closing nonessential activities was the right thing to do,” she said. “We’re still going to do our grab-and-go meals, along with Meals on Wheels, and we’ll be doing grocery shopping and wellness check-type things, along with food boxes. We’re going to continue to do all that, but the congregate meal setting cannot happen.”

The MMC’s fitness center and swimming pool will remain open with limited reservations; however, the Holiday Feast it had planned Dec. 17 has been canceled.

Ms. Fredricks said the center has around 50 full-time employees, as well as nearly 250 part-time positions.

“We will keep all employees currently working right now,” she said. “We will divert them into other areas. If their program is shut down, then everybody will be concentrated on getting the meals and everything out to the clients.

“It’s going to be all hands on deck because we’re doing about 1,500 meals all over Kent County, and that’s a lot of food to get out and everything. We’re going to do what we have to do to serve the clients who need the service, while still trying to keep clients safe in the facility.”

Cate Lyons, vice president of marketing and development for the MMC, said the nonprofit will be preparing double meals for the Meals on Wheels program this week, so each client will get a frozen meal and a hot meal. It also plans on continuing its pet food deliveries in partnership with the Brandywine Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Ms. Lyons noted that the MMC already had to close its doors for a couple of months early in the COVID-19 pandemic. So it already has a plan of action for the upcoming closure.

“We did it before, so we can do this again,” she said. “We’re going to keep people safe. We haven’t had any major outbreaks, and we want to keep it that way. We are going to discontinue to have congregate activities because we don’t want to be mixing people from different households, basically.

“We’re just going to stop that, but we’re going to keep on with our Meals on Wheels and our grab and go, and because we’re (closing nonessential activities), then more people will go back to the Meals on Wheels because they can’t come in here to eat, like our Adult Day Care and our Memory Loss Program. They’ll be at home now, so they’ll go back on our Meals on Wheels list.”

Bob Herpel bags his meals for Meals on Wheels as he prepares for deliver out of the Modern Maturity Center on Monday. (Submitted photo)

Ms. Lyons added they will be keeping the fitness center and pool open because Pivot Physical Therapy uses the pool for its patients. The limit was eight people at once in the fitness center, and she said they will be dropping that number — and those at the pool — even further.

Fitness center and pool users should call 734-1200, ext. 188, for a reservation. Face masks must be worn until entering the pool, and temperatures will be taken by a lifeguard or fitness staff member to enter. No walk-ins will be allowed.

Grab-and-go lunches will still be available from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call 734-1200 by 9:30 a.m. to reserve. Pickup will be available in front of the building, and face masks will be required.

Ms. Fredricks said she didn’t know a single person who had been infected by COVID-19 back in its early stages in March, but added, “Now, I know a lot.

“We’ve been doing everything we possibly can to keep it as safe as possible in here, but we still have had to quarantine people and we’ve had to shut down different programs and everything,” she said. “I know one thing: That vaccine cannot come fast enough.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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