Senior living residents say they are isolated since management closed community rooms for pandemic

Sarah Schulte Image
Thursday, December 8, 2022
Senior living community rooms closed for pandemic create isolation, residents say
Residents of East Lake Management senior living facilities said that community rooms that have been closed since the start of the COVID pandemic have left them isolated and without

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Patrica Hightower has lived in the Park Shore East apartments for 20 years. Socializing with other residents is what keeps the 80-year-old going but community rooms in her building and others managed by East Lake Management have been closed since the beginning of the pandemic.

"We used to have sit down dinners, Christmas dinners and Christmas parties, just activities," she said.

Hightower joined other senior tenants to protest and demand that all community rooms reopen. Renee Celestine lives in one of East Lake's buildings in West Woodlawn

"They said they don't want people to congregate, but we don't have a place in the building to meet," Celestine said. "In my building we don't even have a place to sit outside, no benches nor chairs, we used to have such a place but they closed that to us also."

Celestine said she has no immediate living family members, so being able to meet with other residents is her only form of socialization

"There are a lot of seniors in my building and all of them have been isolated in their apartments it's been like living in a prison," she said.

East Lake Management declined ABC7's request for an on-camera interview, but in a written response, the company's president said East Lake is very concerned about the health and safety of its senior residents during the pandemic, especially now with cases going up.

But, the company recently agreed to reopen the community room at Park Shore East for five days a week.

"They only put the sign up when they found out about what we are having here, it wasn't open until then," Hightower said.

Protesting residents are demanding all community rooms open seven days a week. East Lake said each building has its own procedures, but rooms are available upon request any time.