Seniors’ nutritional need in Pinal and Gila counties continues to grow during the COVID 19 pandemic.  It is a fact that the older adult population is one of the hardest hit by the virus, especially those who are socially isolated, have chronic health illnesses, are economically disadvantaged, or are a member of certain minority groups or ethnic decent.  The State DES Aging & Adult Administration notified Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens (PGCSC) that as an Area Agency on Aging for the Region, we are a focal point charged with meeting the needs of homebound and socially isolated seniors in the area to the best of our abilities.     

To date, Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens staff, coordinating through their many community partners, volunteers, and providers were able to get 5,600 meals, 2,000 bottles of bleach, and toilet tissue to 10 senior center communities in Pinal and Gila counties.  Most items were purchased by Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens contributions, donations, and utilization of Federal COVID 19 funds.        

The first shipment was so large and heavy that PGCSC called for help from our community brother and sister agencies.  Thanks to the Pinal County Health Department emergency staff unit, Jan Vidimos, arrangements were made to bring in the Army National Guard to deliver to over 9 community senior centers within Pinal and Gila counties.  Once the products are delivered, the City staff or provider agencies will deliver to frail and homebound seniors and those individuals who normally attend the center for congregate meals.   Due to Social Distancing and safety measures, the Senior Centers in Pinal and Gila have been closed to the public; only their on-site kitchens have remained open to continue to cook their meals.  The Cities, Towns, and provider agencies participating are Eloy, Coolidge, Florence, Casa Grande, Superior, Globe, Miami, Apache Junction, Payson Multipurpose Senior Center, Catholic Social Services of Southern AZ.

The State of AZ, DES Department of Aging & Adult leadership, made it a priority to provide technical assistance and remove policy obstacles that would hinder the way of getting food to our seniors. 

Fernando Cornejo from Eva’s Fine Mexican Food assisted in helping PGCSC obtain over 2,500 gallons of bleach and tissue when all grocery shelves were empty, and also prepared 30 emergency meals for delivery.  

Scott McEuen called to donate 350 masks made by Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints   Dottie Sanchez from Globe and Shelly Hanley from Casa Grande also helped make masks for seniors.  Over 600 masks have been made to deliver to seniors. 

Volunteers Tito Medina, Jose Gonzales, and Mac Martinez helped package and deliver food and bleach to the Food Banks.  CAHRA’S staff and Santa Cruz Food Bank volunteers and Maricopa Food Bank volunteers helped distribute supplies to seniors.   

For Immediate Release – March 20, 2020
Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens (PGCSC), along with its President/CEO and Board are fully committed to protecting the health and safety of all agency clients, employees and the communities we serve. As a principal provider of aging services in Pinal & Gila Counties, the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in our region is of great concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the Arizona Department of Health Services warn that older adults, particularly those with serious underlying conditions may be at higher risk of becoming extremely ill from the virus. The CDC has recommended that during the COVID-19 outbreak, organizations and individuals take every precaution necessary, including limiting contact with others, to further reduce the risk of exposure. PGCSC takes this warning seriously and with support and direction from the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES), Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) has implemented the following adjustments to our programs and services to slow the spread of the virus.

Nutrition Programs:

Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020 all contracted nutrition sites in Pinal and Gila counties have suspended senior center programs. In an effort to continue to meet the nutritional needs of program participants, congregate meals will continue to be offered at the individual sites via a drive-up “to-go” method or delivered directly to the homes of those individuals who may not have access to transportation. Home delivered service will continue as planned, with nutrition sites working to increase the number of meals typically authorized per individual. Where feasible, sites will delivery additional frozen meals for the week or provide a box of shelf stable meals for individuals to use in the event they are short of food. PGCSC will continue to accept home delivered program referrals in an effort to serve the most frail and isolated individuals in our communities during this health emergency. And with the help of our contracted nutritional sites, we will continue to monitor the situation and make the necessary adjustments to reach as many elderly individuals as possible. For more information on these program changes, please contact your local senior center or PGCSC Information & Referral at 520-836-2758. A list of senior center nutritional sites and contact information can be found on our website

Case Management, Family Care Support & Community Education Programs:

In PGCSC’s effort to minimize exposure and maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak, effective immediately all case managers will suspend home visits to client’s homes. All clients will be contacted via telephone and the necessary reviews, assessments and reauthorizations will be completed telephonically. In an effort to stay connected with our family caregivers, clients, and community members, PGCSC is offering the following:  Caregiver Support Groups are being held at their regularly scheduled times, utilizing a virtual platform; a six-week diabetes educational workshop will begin on June 9th from 10 am - 12 pm through July 14th; and each Friday at 11 am we offer a variety of health-related topics.  Please check our calendar for a list of activities or call 520-836-2758.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program:

As directed by the DAAS, the The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program will cease to conduct visits to long term care facilities for a minimum of 30 days, effective March 13, 2020. Recent federal guidance has required long term care facilities to restrict all visitors, volunteers and non-essential health care personnel from entering their facilities. Residents still have the right to access the Ombudsman program however facilities are being asked to facilitate residential communication with Ombudsman staff and volunteers via telephone or another format. For more information please contact PGCSC.
PGCSC offices remain open and continue to provide all other services, including Information and Referral, which is of dire need during this health emergency. PGCSC staff are also making every effort to minimize exposure to the public by asking individuals seeking services to not visit our office in person, but contact us via telephone 520-836-2758, e-mail and our website to connect to services. PGCSC is continuing to monitoring information from the Federal, State and County government and health organizations, and will take every measure necessary to serve and ensure the safety of our clients, staff and community including making additional adjustments in our services.