Archive for the ‘Seniors’ Category

Antioch, Contra Costa offer places to cool off on Saturday during extreme heat

Friday, May 29th, 2020

Employment & Human Services Department Opens Four Locations for Hot Weather Relief

The Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services Department (EHSD) has partially re-opened four of its public lobbies where residents can cool off on days of extreme heat during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place health order. The places to get relief from hot weather are open to all, including individuals, families with children, seniors and disabled adults. Water and charging stations are available at each of the following locations, open for cooling off from Saturday, May 29, 2020, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

EHSD District Office 4545 Delta Fair Blvd. Antioch  
EHSD District Office 400 Ellinwood Way Pleasant Hill  
EHSD District Office 151 Linus Pauling Hercules  
EHSD District Office 1305 Macdonald Richmond  

Social distancing and face covering requirements are in place in the EHSD buildings, and capacity may be limited in order to comply with County health orders.  Community members should NOT go to any of these places to cool off if they have been exposed to or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or if they have been ordered to quarantine.  All visitors to EHSD offices are required to answer screening questions, per CDC guidelines, before they can enter the buildings.

During the COVID-19 shelter in place, EHSD’s regular programs and services are NOT available at these offices. County residents can call (925) 957-5647 or (925) 957-5648 (Spanish) for assistance with CalFresh, CalWORKs, Medi-Cal and other benefit programs.

Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services

Employment & Human Services (EHSD) partners with the community to deliver quality services to ensure access to resources that support, protect, and empower individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency.  Based on the core values of delivering an exceptional customer experience, encouraging open communication, embracing change, practicing ethical behavior, and embracing diversity, EHSD envisions Contra Costa County will continue to be a thriving community where all individuals and families can be healthy, safe, secure and self-sufficient.  More information about EHSD is available at

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California federal prosecutors and FBI to hold telephone Town Hall Monday on COVID-19 scams

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

Seniors, public invited to listen – must register, first

SAN FRANCISCO – Prosecutors from the four United States Attorney’s Offices in California, along with representatives from the FBI, will participate in a telephonic town hall to help California residents identify and avoid fraudulent schemes related to Coronavirus and COVID-19.  The event is being coordinated by the American Association of Retired Persons (“AARP”).

The telephonic town hall will happen on Monday, April 20 from 10 to 11 a.m. PDT. During the event, a special agent from the FBI and a federal prosecutor will make presentations, and participants from across California will be allowed to ask questions to a panel of Assistant United States Attorneys from the four offices that serve California.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is providing the infrastructure for the event. Approximately 100,000 AARP members will receive a phone call Monday morning inviting them to participate in the town hall. Those who wish to receive an invitation may sign up here (

During the current health crisis, federal investigators and prosecutors continue to fulfill their critical mission of protecting public safety. Federal officials have prioritized the disruption, investigation and prosecution of crimes related to Coronavirus and COVID-19, including fraudulent schemes, unapproved treatments, and scams related to stimulus money. During the town hall, federal officials will discuss the types of schemes currently being seen, along with tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.

Soon after the town hall event, a recording will be available at

REPORT COVID-19 CRIME.  Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline: 866-720-5721 or

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Gov. Newsom launches campaign to protect health of older Californians during COVID-19 pandemic

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

To combat social isolation, ‘Stay Home. Save Lives. Check In.’ campaign urges all Californians to check in on vulnerable neighbors with a call, text or physically-distanced door knock.

In coordination with non-profit local 2-1-1 systems, California also launches hotline to help Californians answer questions.

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the “Stay Home. Save Lives. Check In.” campaign urging Californians to help combat social isolation and food insecurity among Californians who are over the age of 65 – a community that is uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19.

During California’s stay at home order, older Californians may need friends and neighbors to help them obtain basic necessities like groceries and prescriptions.

“The most important way for older Californians to stay safe is to stay at home,” said Governor Newsom. “No older Californian should be forced to go outside to get groceries or their medication. It’s on all of us across the state to check in on the older adults in our lives – our friends, family and neighbors – to help them during this outbreak. Each and every one of us must reach out in a safe way to make sure our older neighbors have someone to talk to and have enough food to eat during these difficult times.”

The campaign urges all Californians to check in on their older neighbors with a call, text or physically-distanced door knock to make sure they’re ok. In addition, the state is urging local non-profits and faith-based organizations to call to check in on all of the older Californians in their networks.

The Governor also announced the creation of a statewide hotline — 833-544-2374 — in coordination with the non-profit local 2-1-1 systems, so that Californians have a one-stop shop to answer their questions and get assistance during this crisis. For example, the 2-1-1 system is able to help older Californians access grocery and medication delivery while staying at home.

The state, in partnership with AARP, will also send a mailer to older residents, 65 and older, with useful resources and information to help adapt to the stay at home order.

“Social isolation can be difficult for older Californians even in the best of times,” said Kim McCoy Wade, director of the California Department of Aging. “We have to help aging Californians feel connected – and we must ensure we all have access to any needed services right now. This work will save lives.”

The campaign builds on existing efforts by California Volunteers and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) to help older Californians and those who need food assistance.

California Volunteers has launched their Neighbor-to-Neighbor campaign, which calls on neighbors to be the first line of support for California’s most vulnerable residents who have been advised to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Neighbor-to-Neighbor campaign is focused on older adults and promotes ways to safely check on your neighbors, family and friends.

To make the most vulnerable Californians more resilient to disasters, Listos California has pivoted to helping these communities stay safe during the pandemic. Leading the charge statewide are Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) comprised of volunteers with at least 20 hours of FEMA preparedness training. These teams are conducting welfare checks on seniors, as well as distributing essential food and supplies in Sacramento, San Diego, San Bernardino, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Napa counties to help them through the pandemic. Listos California has also partnered with trusted community-based organizations across the state and programs like Meals on Wheels and other local senior-serving non-profits to deliver services and preparedness resources.


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First coronavirus-related death confirmed in Contra Costa County, confirmed cases now at 42

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Christ Farnitano speaks during a press conference on Friday, March 20, 2020 as Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, Deputy Health Officer, Contra Costa Health Officer waits to speak. Screenshot of YouTube video.

“More confirmed cases does not mean we are losing ground.”; “Go out with your friends, your family, go on a hike…” – County Health Officer;  “It’s up to each city to make a determination with regard to enforcement.” – Chair of the Board of Supervisors

Coronavirus. CDC image.

By Allen Payton

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has confirmed the county’s first confirmed death linked to COVID-19.

The patient died Thursday in a hospital in the county. The Contra Costa resident was in their 70’s and had a pre-existing condition that put them at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and a history of recent overseas travel.

A media briefing by county officials to update the public was held this morning.

“Today we regret to announce the first death in Contra Costa County caused by the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, County Health Officer. “This person passed away at a hospital in our county on Thursday. They were in their 70’s and they had a condition that placed them at risk of serious illness, and they had recently traveled outside of the country.”

The individual traveled from Europe, but those were all the details he would provide. “Unfortunately, we do anticipate more deaths in Contra Costa County,” Farnitano said.

“This death underscores the urgent need for all Contra Costa residents to follow the stay at home order, maintain social distancing and the state order just issued by Governor Newsom, last night,” he stated. “Novel coronavirus is dangerous for older adults and people with certain medical conditions, including heart or lung disease, diabetes and those with weak immune systems.”

“We believe that by following these orders we can reduce the spread of the virus, right now in our community and that will save lives,” Dr. Farnitano continued. “The situation is very serious in Contra Costa. We expect more confirmed cases as our testing expands. So far, Contra Costa Public Health has confirmed 42 cases in our community. We believe that aggressive testing can help, and we are ramping up our testing efforts on a daily basis.”

Most testing is being done by private labs.

“Our public health lab is performing between 40 to 100 tests per day, but that’s a small percentage of the total testing being done across the county, right now,” he stated.

“As we’re expanding our testing, we really want to get to the point we’re able to test everyone who has symptoms,” Dr. Farnitano said. “We’re trying to prioritize our public health lab which can do rapid testing and get results in 24 hours or less to those folks we’re most concerned about.”

“The private labs can test anyone who has symptoms,” he continued. “The more folks we test with symptoms then the more we’re going to be able to understand the spread within our community, and more able to isolate more effectively those who test positive.”

“More confirmed cases does not mean we are losing ground,” he stated. “It means we are sharpening our focus and gathering data that will help us through this emergency.”

“As always, the best way to protect yourself is to practice good hygiene and social distancing,” Farnitano shared. “Because COVID-19 is new humans have no immunity to it and there is no vaccine.”

He then repeated the ways to protect yourself, such as washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching your face.

“If you are ill, it is imperative you stay home, even if you’re an essential worker,” Dr. Farnitano concluded.

Candace Andersen, Chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors spoke next.

“We recognize this order is disruptive. We would not ask any of you to do this if we didn’t think it was important,” she said. “During this difficult time, we are continuing to provide county services, virtually. We have county employees working from home, remotely, in offices and away from the public who can still assist you. Please go to the county’s website at for the most updated information resources.”

“I want to assure you that Contra Costa is doing all it can to slow the spread of the coronavirus and reduce its impact,” Andersen continued. “The county’s emergency operations center has been activated and is slowing the virus and is now the primary focus of our local government actions in Contra Costa.”

“You can visit or call our help line at 1-844-729-8410 if you have any questions about this order and the virus,” she added.

Dr. Farnitano encouraged county residents to go out and exercise and take a hike in the East Bay parks.

“We do want to encourage people to get outside and exercise and enjoy our beautiful, natural setting in the East Bay,” he said. “Go out with your friends, your family, go on a hike, but stay six feet apart. So, do it safely.”

Asked about local enforcement and people going outside, “It’s certainly not recommended unless you can really do it from a safe distance,” Andersen responded, “It’s up to each city to make a determination with regard to enforcement.”

Specifically, about golfing she said, it’s up to each city “whether or not to say you can’t golf or not.”

“Clearly if you’re golfing with members of your household and you’re staying six feet apart from everyone else, I think that works,” Andersen shared. “But if you’re meeting up with your buddies and you all live in different households and you’ve all been out doing your essential shopping and other things, you have a good chance of spreading the virus, if you get together in that close circumstance. We expect people to use their good judgment and take this seriously.”

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Hillcrest Memory Care to hold Grand Reopening Feb. 5 following improvements and staff changes

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

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Medicare 2020 and what you need to know program at TreVista-Antioch Senior Living Tuesday, Oct. 15

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

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An Elderly Wish Foundation announces winners of annual Fund-A-Wish drawing

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

An Elderly Wish Foundation’s Executive Director, Mary Chapman prepares to draw the $1,000 prize winner’s name in the annual Fund-A-Wish fundraiser.

An Elderly Wish Foundation Board of Directors.

By Allen Payton

Thursday evening, at TreVista-Antioch Senior Living, the leaders and supporters of An Elderly Wish Foundation gathered for the drawing of the three winners in their fifth annual Fund-A-Wish fundraiser.

Tickets were sold for $100 each and “all 100 tickets were sold,” said Executive Director Mary Chapman.

Winner of the $1,000 prize was Max Tellez. He bought the ticket from foundation Board Member Nora Von Ubin.

“Wow, You’re kidding?” Tellez said when he was called with the good news.

The $500 winner was Carol Thibodeaux, who was in attendance. The ticket was sold by foundation Board Member Tracy Brown. The $250 winner was Marguerite Bloomfield, who was also in attendance. Mary Chapman sold her the ticket.

“The biggest thank you goes to our sponsors for this evening, TreVista-Antioch, Oakridge Winery, Black Bear Diner, CalBay Realty, East County Insurance, Homestar Real Estate, Summit Funding and The Print Club,” Chapman stated.

Mary Chapman presented TreVista-Antioch’s Senior Living Consultant Tamsen Meierdierck and Executive Director Sonya Smith with thank you gifts for being helping sponsor the fundraiser and hosting the evening’s event.

“The biggest thing is your support, all of you tonight,” she continued. “You’re the ones who make the elderly wishes come true. All of you have brought such joy to many, many seniors.”

Chapman shared about the latest wish the organization granted, which was for a lady with cancer, to enable her to travel to attend her son’s wedding.

Another wish was to replace another lady’s 40-year-old mattress with a mattress that moves up and down, and back and forth.

“She got seasick the first time she used it,” one of the attendees said with a laugh.

“Your support makes a wish come true,” Chapman stated. “You’re all invited to our 19th Heart to Heart Gala, Feb. 21, 2020 at Lone Tree Golf & Event Center.”

The theme, entitled “Putting on the Wish” and they’re asking attendees to dress in roaring twenties style black and white. For more information about the organization, visit

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TreVista Antioch Senior Living hires local lady to lead the team

Monday, October 7th, 2019

TreVista Antioch’s new Executive Director, Sonya Smith.

By Allen Payton

The city’s premier assisted living facility, TreVista Antioch recently made a change in leadership with the hiring of Sonya (Gonzalez) Smith as the new Executive Director. She replaces Neal Torres who has moved on to another position in the industry.

A native of Antioch, Smith is a graduate of Antioch High and was on the varsity teams for both cross country and track. She was track and field team captain in her freshman year. She was the starter for the 4×100 relay team, but her specialty was the 200-meter. They wouldn’t let her run the hurdles, as she wanted, out of fear of getting hurt and not being able to be the relay team’s starter. But Smith got her chance to deal with hurdles, later in her career.

“I got my running from my dad. He was a runner. I’m an Army brat and he would enter me in all the kids’ mile runs, over by the fairgrounds,” Smith shared. “Tom Torlakson was my cross-country coach. We always participated in the Kiwanis Club’s Holiday Run.”

She still loves to run and runs around Contra Loma at least once a week.

Smith attended Marsh Elementary “when Mr. Reed was principal,” she shared. She then attended Antioch   Junior High, when it had 7th, 8th and 9th grades, before it became the middle school. Smith continued the family tradition of attending Antioch High, “the home of the Panthers”, she said, proudly.

Her favorite subjects in high school were home ec, government and science.

“I loved being in jazz dance,” Smith said.

Health Care Career Begins

“After high school I became a nurse and fell in love with the seniors,” she shared. “I’ve always been in geriatrics, senior care.”

Smith specialized in pain management, working for a private practice doctor in Walnut Creek.

Then she became a community nurse at an assisted living facility in Brentwood.

“I just fell in love with it and knew this is the kind of nurse I was meant to be,” she said.

An LVN, for four years she was in charge of all the health care plans, assessing all the residents, supporting them in their day to day care, visiting them in the hospital, staying in contact with their doctors, and making sure their medications were correct, “to ensure a good quality of life,” said Smith.

Sonya Smith interacts with the residents.

Agemark Career Begins

She was then hired as the Assistant Director for the Agemark facility in Oakdale, California. That was short lived as she was then promoted to the Executive Director position three months later.

“I believe in the company and really believe in their values,” she shared. “So, it was really easy to jump on the team and go forward.”

“I think people in the healthcare industry get so task oriented that they forget about the person,” said Smith. “Our families, our residents have stories to share. They’ve been successful. We have veterans. They have done so much. We don’t see them as their diagnosis. We focus on the residents and the staff, as family.”

“That’s why I’m always here,” she said with a laugh.

Then, this year, she was offered the position at TreVista Antioch and began as Executive Director at the beginning of September.

Agemark, Owner of TreVista

The owner of TreVista is Agemark, based in Orinda. They currently own 21 properties, but they’re getting ready to break ground on five more properties.

The company’s first facility was in Vancouver, Washington. They have another location in Nebraska which is a renovated 1940’s hotel.

“It’s like a flash into the past,” Smith stated. “It’s so cool.”

“That’s what I love about AgeMark. They invest in their properties and some are original landmarks,” she said. “They save the buildings, rehab and give them a facelift and bring new life to them.”

They’re now coast to coast with another location in Maryland.

“It’s a smaller company in the industry, with     regards to the number of locations they own,” Smith shared. “We stay local and our philosophy is that we treat everyone like family. All of our facilities are intimate.”

Her daily responsibilities include ensuring her team provides their residents with the best quality of life. That includes their care needs, their dietary needs and most importantly, their social stimulation needs.

“We have happy hour, we go to the casinos, we go to the movies, we take them shopping. We let them try new things, like going to the beach, when weather permits,” Smith added.

There are over 80 staff members at the Antioch location, including her management team and line staff: servers, care givers, housekeeping and maintenance.

One of her managers is also the head chef, offering home-made, nutritional meals.

“You gotta have that home-style cooking, of course on the healthier side,” Smith said with a laugh.

“With our wellness department we also have two other nurses on staff to address the care needs of our residents,” she continued.

“I’m on the floor all the time. We have a resident council with regular meetings, which I attend when I’m invited in,” Smith said. “I think it’s important to be on the floor, to be visible. It goes back to our philosophy. Engaged in conversation, welcoming them.”

TreVista Antioch also has a dementia support unit, known as memory care.

TreVista Antioch is located on Lone Tree Way across from Sutter Delta Medical Center.

Community Involvement

Smith wants to help her residents enjoy their lives.

“We have one lady who wanted to ride a motorcycle. So, we made that happen,” she said. “That’s why I like working with Mary Chapman of An Elderly Wish Foundation. We sponsor their annual fundraising dinner.”

TreVista is also a member of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce as Silver Sponsors of the local business organization. Smith plans to be more involved, first as an Ambassador, then hopefully as a member of the board of directors.

“Now that I’m local, I really want to help with the community events, including the parades in downtown,” she said. “Our location in Oakdale won the Most Inspirational Float of the Oakdale Rodeo Parade.”

On the Personal Side

Smith is a big supporter of veterans and the military. Her son is a Marine serving as a diesel mechanic with one deployment under his belt, and her dad served 26 years in the Army and was a Captain in the infantry.

Her daughter is a cheerleader and is currently in high school.

For the Future

TreVista is in the process of adding a bistro where residents can grab a coffee or snack, plus a movie theater for residents to enjoy that kind of experience.

Soon they will become more high profile in the community

“My whole focus is to share our residents’ stories. They’ve had wonderful lives and want to invest that back into the community,” Smith said.

“The stereotype of what assisted living is, it’s not a place to go until you die. The misconception is that it’s the place where you’ve given up on life. But, it’s actually a new beginning. We’ve evolved because we know our residents need a support system in place. We get referred to as a standing cruise ship, where people go to live life.”

“We’re here to promote a healthy lifestyle, with the support and care to meet each individual resident’s needs,” she concluded.

To learn more about TreVista Antioch visit their website at and their Facebook page, or call (925) 470-3395 to set up a tour. They’re located at 3950 Lone Tree Way in Antioch across from Sutter Delta Medical Center.

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