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RSVP shifting gears during Coronavirus outbreak

In a time when “social distancing” has become the new norm in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, businesses and organizations nationwide are retooling and changing their models in an effort to keep their operations functioning until the country returns to its former status quo.

One such organization making shifts in its operations is the Nevada Rural Counties Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, better known simply as RSVP.

“RSVP has taken proactive steps and the necessary precautions to respond to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak and support communities across its 15-county service region including Carson City,” an announcement from the nonprofit stated. “The most vulnerable among us rely on RSVP’s volunteer services. Given the increased risks for those we serve such as elders, veterans and adults with a disability, RSVP is limiting interaction between its volunteers and clients by shifting programs to meet the emergent needs of care recipients.”

That means RSVP volunteers are now concentrating on providing what services they can while maintaining decreased volunteer-client contact.

With “panic buying” and the increased exposure risk associated with shopping in large groups causing concerns for many elderly people, RSVP staff and volunteers are delivering groceries and medication to their clients, eliminating their need to enter a store to obtain those necessary supplies. In addition, RSVP Executive Director and CEO Susan Haas said RSVP is teaming up with the Ron Wood Family Resource Center and the Nevada Department of Education Carson City Office to help with the distribution of emergency food to its elderly and disabled clients.

For many, the forced isolation and incredible amount of uncertainty prompted by the coronavirus is also creating a spike in anxiety. Here, too, RSVP is striving to assist its clients, implementing a system for telephone reassurance checks. Volunteers and staff are providing referrals to other agencies, as appropriate, as well.

RSVP’s transportation program is where most of the changes are occurring. Rather than offering transportation for a variety of reasons, RSVP is scaling back this part of its program to essential doctor visits only. This includes chemotherapy, radiation, dialysis and other lifesaving treatments.

The organization’s announcement noted that volunteers are not permitted to drive clients who are expressing cold or flu-like symptoms and those working in the homemakers’ program will continue to clean for their elderly clients unless they are presenting such symptoms.

“Our volunteers are working hard at keeping our clients and their families safe and as healthy as possible during this crisis as they are continuing to assist when and where they can,” RSVP Field Representative Tonya Brum, who leads the RSVP operations in Nye County, told the Pahrump Valley Times. “We are looking forward to the time when our lives will be back to normal. In keeping with our concern for our community, RSVP has put Friends Day Out and Art 4 Seniors on hold until the crisis has past. If you have any questions regarding the services provided by RSVP please give me a call, Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 702-845-4748.”

Haas added that she and RSVP are asking everyone to take precautions recommended by the CDC and local health officials, remarking that this is only a temporary period in time and things will eventually get better. “Together we are stronger. RSVP staff and volunteers continue to serve your community. Working together we will weather this storm; and we know, that this too shall pass,” Haas stated.

One of RSVP’s central goals is to help seniors and disabled persons avoid the need for nursing or long-term care facilities, giving them the much-appreciated ability to stay in their own homes and maintain their independence. With nursing homes an apparent hotbed for the spread of the coronavirus, keeping its clients out of such institutions is a mission that will undoubtedly strike a chord in the hearts of many at this time.

Anyone who feels a desire to step up and lend a hand to the nonprofit RSVP organization can do so by donating to the cause. RSVP may be shifting its focus right now but its overall aim remains the same and every donation made will go toward making certain that RSVP comes out of the coronavirus strong and ready to return to business as normal.

To learn more or make a donation to RSVP contact Brum at the above phone number or email hbtb2tonya@yahoo.com

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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