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Business owners Don and Kathy Beck lay off their Rivercrest Living staff, move into the facility themselves to isolate with their residents.

COURTESY PHOTO - Pam Beck, in foreground with phone, joins other Rivercrest Living residents without masks or gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic.OREGON CITY — During this time when protecting seniors is especially important, Don and Kathy Beck took an impressive step to keep the elders in their small retirement community safe.

COURTESY PHOTO - Kathy Beck, owner of the Rivercrest senior living facility in Oregon City, serves tea sandwiches to resident Betty Bunch without masks or gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic.When the first COVID-19 case was reported in a senior care facility in Washington in early March, the Becks could see the massive implications. On March 13, they took the bold step to temporarily lay off their Rivercrest Living staff of four who did caregiving, cooking, cleaning and errands for their seniors, and moved into the facility themselves to isolate with their residents.

"We felt it was the only decision we could make," Kathy said. "We knew if we could avoid all outside exposure, this would be the safest place for our residents."

They recruited Don's visiting sister Pam Beck to stay and help, and now the three Becks are well into their third month of waking each morning and turning off each night with their nine residents, which range from age 80 to 94. Beyond the safety benefits, because there is no outside exposure, residents gather together freely, without masks, rather than living a life of isolation in their rooms, the new normal for Oregon senior living.

COURTESY PHOTO - Don Beck checks on his father, Austin Beck, at the Rivercrest senior living facility in Oregon City during the COVID-19 pandemic.COVID-19 restrictions have been particularly stringent for people living in most of Oregon's senior care facilities. State officials on March 17 increased restrictions on visitation policies for all licensed long-term care facilities to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus, banning all visitors except essential medical and emergency personnel and visitors to residents who are at the end of life.

Many facilities have had to take extra precautions in attempts to prevent employees from bringing in COVID-19 from the community, like testing every employee before each shift for elevated temperature.

Kathy purchased the Rivercrest family business after her years of experience as chief clinical dietitian at Portland Adventist Medical Center from 1989-97. She received a bachelor's of science degree in clinical nutrition from Loma Linda University in southern Calififonia in 1987.

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