Laucella’s plans keep senior center open

Photo of Brian Gioiele
The Shelton Senior Center.

The Shelton Senior Center.

Brian Gioiele / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — The Shelton Senior Center will remain open as long as possible if director Doreen Laucella has anything to say about it — even in the face of the coronavirus.

Laucella calls the center and its programming “vital” for the hundreds of senior citizens who enter its doors each day. Beside needed socialization, Laucella said, the center offers lunch to some 60 to 80 seniors each day, and that may be their only nutritious meal of the day.

“Seniors are standing strong in Shelton,” said Laucella, adding that she will keep the center open until told otherwise by the health director or Mayor Mark Lauretti. “We are being diligent about our cleaning … all of us. We need to stay open for our seniors.”

To date, no Shelton resident has tested positive for COVID-19, and schools and municipal buildings remain open in the wake of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 130,000 worldwide, leaving hundreds dead. In the United States, as of 2 p.m. March 12, there were 1,323 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 38 deaths.

A handful of Connecticut residents have tested positive for coronavirus at this point, and several schools in the area have been closed. Seniors appear to be the most vulnerable to suffering severe complications from the virus, which has led Laucella to step up daily sterilization of the entire center, she said.

Laucella said all center trips for March are being rescheduled, and the popular St. Patrick’s Day party, planned for March 20, has been canceled. She said center policy now also requires any seniors who have traveled outside of Connecticut to stay away from the center for 14 days from the day of their return.

“We are following what the state has recommended … do not have events with 100 or more people,” said Laucella.

Laucella also spends much of her day reminding the seniors to wash their hands. There are sinks in all the rooms.

“The seniors are really listening to what I am asking them to do,” said Laucella. “Following the rules on this will help us keep the doors open longer.”

Lunch is still being served, and Laucella said the cafeteria has switched to all plastic utensils and plates.