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Lynbrook, East Rockaway institutions face a new normal

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Amid the still-serious threat of the coronavirus, local senior centers and libraries have tightened restrictions and adjusted to a new normal.

For senior centers, the rules for visitation and communication with those outside the facilities have  become more strict.

Lynbrook Re-storative Therapy and Nursing, on Atlantic Avenue, works with patients recently hospitalized with Covid-19 to improve their strength and fine motor skills. Patients may be admitted directly from home or the hospital once released from an intensive care unit, and started on a ventilator-dependent course of treatment.

The center has instituted a policy of no visitors at any time until further notice. However, family involvement in the rehabilitation process is encouraged via virtual platforms such as Zoom and Google Duo. Staff members are available to arrange remote communication between residents and loved ones.

“We understand that this will be difficult,” administrators at the facility wrote in a message on its website. “However, the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], as well as the New York City and New York state health departments have advised that restricting visitors is the best way to prevent the spread of this virus and protect our elderly population. We truly apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. The safety and well-being of our residents is always our number one priority.”

The state Department of Health recently released a memo regarding communication between those in nursing homes and family members. Nursing homes “shall notify family members or next of kin for all residents if any resident tests positive for Covid-19, or if any resident suffers a Covid-19 related death, within 24 hours of such positive test result or death,” it read.

Lynbrook Restorative administrator Yiddy Eisen said in a letter to residents’ families that the goal is to communicate effectively within the boundaries of the requirements, while maintaining the residents’ right to privacy. Residents’ family members are allowed to choose which information they receive as long as it satisfies the DOH regulations.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, public libraries were required to close in order to prevent the spread of the virus. The Lynbrook Public Library, at 56 Eldert St., closed its doors to the public in March. During the time of its closure, the library’s virtual collections, including eBooks, downloadable audio and magazines were made available. Craft ideas and programmed storytimes were additionally accessible through the library’s Facebook and YouTube accounts.

The library now offers lobby service, allowing patrons to request items via an online catalog, request form or by phone. Once materials are available, a pickup day is scheduled to receive items, including children’s to-go crafts, in the lobby. The library is offering a Virtual Summer Reading Club this year for children and adults, and has continued its variety of virtual programming.

While awaiting plastic sneeze shields to ensure the safety of patrons and staff, the library and village boards will discuss an opening date. Upon opening, services will be limited: patrons will be able to browse, check out materials and pick up crafts to go, but computers and copy machines will not be available for use.

“It is too early to know what the future brings, and I will not speculate,” Library Director Robyn Gilloon said. “Our services are changing day by day, as they have been since March.”

The East Rockaway Public Library, at 477 Atlantic Ave., opened its doors on July 13 after several months of closure. Similarly to the Lynbrook facility, East Rockaway offered curbside pickup of books, CDs and DVDs for loan while the building was closed. A wide selection of e-books and e-magazines were also made available on the library’s website.

Patrons can enter the library to use the fax or copy machine, take out a book or use the library’s reference service. All who enter the building are required to wear face masks, as per executive order. There is still a prohibition on access to public computers, iPads, toys and seating. All returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours before being checked in.

Several book clubs are offered for varying age groups this summer. The library also hosts a “build your job skills, fix your resume” online workshop with resources for additional tutoring. The library has crafts-to-go, reading incentives and virtual storytimes. The Teen Summer Reading challenge allows teens to earn raffle tickets by reading for 200 minutes, which they can then cash in for a prize.

“As we learn more and more about the impact and effects of the virus, we will adapt accordingly,” East Rockaway Library Director Mary Thorpe said. “I anticipate continuing with the cleaning and sanitizing protocol and reevaluating the programming and services we provide.”