Adult day programs work to reopen in Vt.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/5/2021 9:16:47 PM
Modified: 4/5/2021 9:16:45 PM

BETHEL — It will still take weeks to months for three adult day programs in the Upper Valley to reopen following last week’s announcement of new COVID-19 safety guidelines for such programs in Vermont.

It looks as though Gifford Health Care’s program on Route 107 in Bethel will be the first such program to reopen in the Upper Valley. It is slated to do so on May 17, according to a document posted to the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living’s website.

Ursula Margazano, executive director of Gifford Retirement Community, said in a Monday phone interview that the May date might be overly optimistic, but she’s shooting for it.

“I’m being glass half-full,” she said.

The program, which offers social activities, as well as support with showers, meals and medication for older adults and those with disabilities, has been closed since COVID-19 hit the region last year. It’s located in the same building as a Rite Aid pharmacy and one of Gifford’s primary care clinics.

At least initially, Margazano said she anticipates the program will be able to serve five to seven participants at a time, which is roughly half the number it was serving before. The organization is looking to hire two new full-time employees before it reopens, she said. Two others have been working in other parts of Gifford, which also has a nursing home and senior living community in Randolph Center.

Before reopening, Margazano said she is working to sort out how best to transport the participants from their homes to the Bethel program. Before closing, the program had a large proportion of participants who relied on a contracted service with a public transportation company to get there, she said.

In spite of the decreased number of participants, at least initially, Margazano said Gifford is committed to reopening the program and has had state financial support to do so.

“I think everybody is very excited and optimistic,” she said.

The Scotland House in Quechee is slated to reopen by the end of May, according to the state document. The program, which opened in late 2018 in the former Scotland-by-the-Yard space on Route 4, is seeking a new executive director now that Gretchen Cole has moved on to oversee the memory care unit at The Village at White River Junction.

Jeff Dillon, president of the board of The Scotland House, said on Monday he has a “full roster of candidates I’m working through” to find Cole’s replacement.

The Quechee program was serving about 14 people before it shut down last year, Dillon said.

The organization is working through a waitlist to determine who will attend the program when it reopens and to ensure it is in compliance with state regulations, Dillon said.

The organization is “so excited to be able to bring them back,” he said, noting that it’s been a long year for participants, families and the program’s employees.

Springfield Medical Care System’s adult day program on River Street in Springfield, Vt. isn’t slated to reopen until July 5 because the program site is currently being used for COVID-19 vaccinations, Anna Smith, a spokeswoman for SMCS, said via email.

Dartmouth case counts decline

HANOVER — Dartmouth College was down to 29 active cases of COVID-19 on Monday, including 25 students and four employees, according to the college’s dashboard.

That’s seven fewer than the college had on Friday. In addition, 97 people were in quarantine or isolation housing, which is down 13 from Friday.

Colby-Sawyer College in New London, which had an outbreak last month, was down to just one active case as of Monday. Six people were either in quarantine or isolation.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.

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