On Nov. 23, the Beverly Hills Health and Safety Commission recognized the work of members of the community in responding to the unprecedented public health crisis presented by COVID-19. The commission honored two doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for their work with elderly members of Beverly Hills in reducing loneliness and social isolation. The commission further acknowledged the work done by staff in administering the COVID-19 Senior Meal Program.
Commissioner Dr. Erica Felsenthal presented the Health and Safety Recognition Award to Dr. Allison Mays and Dr. Sonja Rosen for their work with the Leveraging Exercise to Age in Place (LEAP) program. The results of the program appear in an article published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Mays, the principal investigator on the study, and Dr. Rosen, co-investigator, began the program in July 2018 and ran it through March 2020, when the pandemic forced them to move classes online. Even with the interruption, the study returned promising results. The 382 participants reported a 6.9 percent decrease in loneliness and a 3.3 percent improvement in social connectedness after six months. The benefits did not disappear in quarantine. The 59 subjects who participated in virtual workouts did not see a statistically significant change in loneliness or social isolation after the implementation of stay-at-home orders.
The Commission also honored the staff who administer and facilitate the COVID-19 Senior Meals Program with the Health and Safety Commission Employee Excellence Award.
“Early on in the COVID crisis we recognized, as did this commission, that we were going to have a number of people that were going to be what we call food insecure and we wanted to try as a city to address that need the best way that we know how,” said Director of Community Services Jenny Rogers, speaking on behalf of the honored staff. “It’s really taken a combination of our Park Rangers, our recreation staff, our library staff and assorted other staff members to make this happen.”
The City’s Senior Meals Program has handed out tens of thousands of meals so far, with 200 meals distributed each day for five days a week–far from a simple logistical undertaking. “This is a program that really truly takes a village,” Rogers said. “We’ve had an incredible partner in doing these meal deliveries in the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel, and without their incredible staff we wouldn’t have all this delicious food in which to distribute.”
This effort went into overdrive for the Thanksgiving holiday. On Nov. 25, a total of 600 Thanksgiving meals were delivered to senior citizens in the City by the Beverly Hills Community Services staff and the Beverly Hills Shuttles. Another 110 meals were delivered by the Beverly Hills Fire Department, thanks to the Beverly Hills Firefighters Association.