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Adult day care centers reopen

Safety precautions are in place

Lead Program Specialist Elsa Robinol (right) assists client Norine Camara on Tuesday. The centers reopened Monday after closing in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

To bring back some normalcy to their clients’ lives and to help their families, Maui Adult Day Care Centers reopened Monday morning with safety modifications and procedures after its facilities were temporarily closed for 3 1/2 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 23, the licensed adult day care centers on Maui have been unavailable to the community, which relied on them for supportive care and programs that stimulate the physical, mental and social well-being of the elderly, the disabled and at-risk individuals 18 years and older.

“The most important thing a family can do is to keep their loved one in a routine,” Executive Director Suzanne Antounian said in a phone interview from the main Kahului office on Tuesday morning. “After doing the surveys with the families and knowing what they were going through, and you know, some of the teachers are starting to go back to school and work and getting ready for the kids, they really needed us to reopen.

“So our board took everything into consideration.”

The day care centers, which are located in Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei, Lahaina and Hana, also offer caregiver support groups, family services, counseling and education. Support groups soon will be offered via Zoom, Antounian said.

Maui Adult Day Care Executive Assistant Margie Dela Cruz (foreground) leads staffers in a “Kiss Me, Kiss Me” dance for clients Tuesday afternoon in Kahului.

Hale Hulu Mamo, the Hana center, is still awaiting clearance to reopen from the Maui County Parks and Recreation Department.

Maui Adult Day Care Centers President Bill Kinaka said Tuesday that the board was somewhat hesitant about reopening and discussed waiting until Aug. 1 to resume MADCC services. But caregivers were ready now to bring back their kupuna and others.

“I’m very proud with how our protocols are for safety, and what we’re recommending,” Kinaka said Tuesday. “I’ve really been looking forward to it.”

Health and safety protocols include temperatures taken three times a day — upon entering the building, midday and before the client leaves. Those with temperatures of 100.4 degrees or higher will not be admitted, Antounian said.

In order to be readmitted to the center, the individual will need to self-quarantine for 14 days, have a negative COVID-19 test result and provide a medical release from their medical provider.

Everyone is asked to stay home if they are sick or are experiencing COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms. 

All staff, clients and medical personnel are required to wear face coverings.

All facilities and appliances are sanitized frequently. Client items, such as walkers and wheelchairs, are sanitized upon arrival and departure.

Sofas were removed from all centers and replaced with recliners to ensure that no one sits close to one another, Antounian said. Chairs at tables are spaced 6 feet apart.

Personal care services, such as showers, are discontinued as are other activities like the Friday Night Sun Downing Program.

Clients will need to complete a daily questionnaire and sign a release of liability waiver.

Maui Adult Day Care Centers will remain open amid the pandemic, but may be forced to close temporarily if necessary for the safety of the clients, caregivers and the community, Antounian said.

For this first month of reopening, Antounian said family members need to provide their own transportation for their loved ones. Transportation currently is not available through Maui Economic Opportunity.

MEO could coordinate a pickup for individuals who are wheelchair- or scooter-bound or do not have another method of transportation. MEO transportation services are slated to resume full-time support of day care center clients around Aug. 1, she said.

About 29 clients were anticipated to return to the main facility in Hale Mahaolu Elima in Kahului starting Monday, but only six people showed up. Before COVID-19, the facility had about 100 total clients with about 40 showing up each day.

As time goes on and word spreads about the centers’ reopening, Antounian hopes that families will feel comfortable and safe enough to return.

“Our main goal is, of course, the safety of everyone,” she said. “We really feel that we have protocol in place . . . to make sure that they are OK,” she said. “But then we want to help the community to make sure that they have some kind of care on the island.”

When the stay-at-home, work-from-home orders were put in place in March to combat the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the at-risk groups, many seniors remained at home in isolation. Even when the orders began to lift slowly, kupuna and others with underlying health conditions still were considered high risk populations and were advised to remain cautious and to avoid contact with others.

Kinaka said that many families contacted the day care centers saying that their family member’s health was “going downhill” during the pandemic due to reduced exercise, emotional stimulation and social interaction, all of which the centers had provided.

“They can now bring their loved ones back,” he said. “When you send your senior to Maui (Adult) Day Care Center, they are not going to be exposed to unnecessary risks.”

Antounian added that “we realized that the families are depending on us,” which led to the decision to reopen Monday after consulting with Maui County, the state Department of Health, and the company’s insurance company.

“We’re just trying to be there for our community and just do our best,” she said. “We’re very transparent.”

The mission of the centers is to provide care in a family-style environment that is safe and filled with love and support, values that Kinaka said staff are dedicated to offering.

“Many caregivers rely on our centers to provide care and supervision for their family members to go to work because they are essential workers,” he added.

The Maui Adult Day Care Centers currently are accepting new clients because “we know that many services are not available right now,” Kinaka said.

Daily fees are $60 to $70 per day depending on level of care needed. Financial assistance is available through the Maui County Office on Aging, Maui United Way, Hawai’i Community Foundation and the Maui Hotel and Lodging Association. The centers also accept QUEST Integration Programs.

“I think it’s one of the safest places,” he said about the reopened centers.

Kinaka said that the longtime caregiving staff, some with up to 40 years at the day care centers, have received all the required training and education.

“They always have a smile on their face first thing in the morning,” he said. “It’s more of the heart and the mind to do a really good job. We’re really blessed to have these workers on staff.”

For more information, to review guidelines and to fill out the survey or the daily questionnaire, visit www.madcc.org.

Facilities, location and hours of operation follow:

• Kahului facility and the central office, 11 Mahaolu St.; 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sundays.

• Ocean View Center, Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, Kahului Beach Road; 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

• Kihei Center, 16 Ehiku St.; 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

• Lahaina Center, 810 Kelawea St.; 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays.

• Hana Center, Hale Hulu Mamo, 5101 Uakea St.; closed and awaiting clearance from county.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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