Moosehaven closes its gates as precaution during COVID-19 pandemic

Visitors limited solely for compassionate visitations


ORANGE PARK – Clay County’s largest population of elderly people are concentrated within the gates of Moosehaven, and in an effort to protect them, the massive complex has restricted access to a select few.

Virtually every aspect of Clay County has been affected by ongoing COVID-19. Be it fewer sales at the local barbershop, no customers inside a restaurant or emptied grocery store shelves, it’s not hard to find someone affected by the virus.

Since the chance of death grows among older residents, Moosehaven Director John Capes said the campus is closed.

“Except for compassionate visitation, the campus is closed,” Capes said. “If family has a resident here in end-of-life stages, they’re allowed to enter but Moosehaven is closed off to everyone else otherwise.”

Moosehaven is a 63-acre active retirement community comprised of about 300 members of the Loyal Order of Moose and their spouses.

Capes said the community is following the governor, CDC and White House recommendations. That’s why large gatherings more than 10 people have been canceled. The residents aren’t, however, confined to their rooms. Capes said they’re still permitted to ride bikes and walk around the campus. Large gatherings, however, have been canceled.

Instead of feeding residents in the dining hall, residents are having their meals delivered to them to be eaten in their rooms.

“They’re really used to that social experience the dining room gives them so they’re a little stir crazy but they understand the situation,” Capes said.

Capes, who plans to retire in May, said residents aren’t allowed to leave the campus, either. If they need something, the Moosehaven staff will make a grocery run. Capes joked about the popularity of beer requests since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

Nurses and staff wear masks inside buildings and practice additional sanitation methods on top of what Moosehaven customary protocols. He also said that staff are watching for signs and symptoms of the virus.

“Because of the incubation period, we’re having to keep an eye on everyone,” Capes said. “Just because nobody here is showing signs, doesn’t mean we’re in the clear.”

As of Wednesday, there have been no cases of COVID-19 at Moosehaven, and Capes said the community is doing everything it can to ensure that remains that way. Staff are screened every day and their temperatures are checked often.

While it’s not preferable not to be allowed to visit, Capes said they haven’t received any kind of negative pushback. He said families outside of Moosehaven understand the situation and are very supportive.

“Perhaps we’re being overly cautious but I think everyone here is on the same page,” Capes said. “It’s for the well-being of everyone here.”


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