Repairs at home for seniors could take months, director says
One of the two buildings at Jamie’s Place in Winthrop is empty and stripped down to the studs in places after a pipe froze and cracked, flooding the building with several inches of water on Friday (Jan. 7).
All six residents, three staff and one visitor in the building were evacuated safely and no injuries were reported. All of the residents have been displaced — two are with family and four are at Regency Omak Rehabilitation and Nursing Center for the time being, said Executive Director Rana Clarke.
The incident was first reported at 11:21 a.m. Friday at the original of the two buildings at Jamie’s Place as a possible roof collapse.
“I was in my office there, and one of our residents was sitting on the couch with a visitor,” Clarke said. “And all of a sudden we all kind of heard this noise and it just didn’t sound right.”
Staff went to investigate and found water pouring out of a fire-suppression sprinkler in one of the residents’ rooms.
The visitor — Marcia Ives — started helping staff clear out the residents’ room.
“I was in that resident’s closet gathering her clothes when the whole ceiling came down,” Ives said. “It was very fortunate that none of us happened to be standing under that.”
The resident had already gotten up and left her room that morning.
At that point, Clarke called 911 and treated the situation as a worst-case scenario. All of the residents and staff evacuated to Jamie’s Place’s Mountain View building immediately.
“In that second it became a completely different situation and safety was everything,” she said.
Fire, EMT and electricity crews arrived and began working to clear the building of the several inches of water that accumulated since the leak started. While the situation wasn’t the dire emergency first reported — with no structural damage to the roof and everyone out safe — firefighters stayed at the scene and removed all of the furniture and helped get the standing water out of the building.
“They had almost all the furniture out before I was able to get back down here,” Clarke said, saying she appreciated all of the support and offers of help from the community. “When we called out for help, the community really showed up.”
Damage being assessed
Clarke said the damage from the several inches of standing water is still being assessed, and Jamie’s Place staff is working with the organization’s insurance company. The building had its fire-suppression system inspected in September, but the portion that failed was inside the ceiling. By Monday, most of the floors had been removed and drywall had been cut out about a foot above the floor. Clarke said the kitchen cabinets may also need to go.
“It was crazy the amount of water,” she said.
Repairs could take months, Clarke said. Until then, the six residents still need full-time care.
“The hardest part is on the residents,” she said. “Now you have people who have different levels of dementia and they had this horrible day, scary day … they had to all get COVID tested, and TB tested, got in a bus, went to Omak and they’re now in a completely strange place.”
Jamie’s Place Adult Family home is the Methow Valley’s only residential senior care facility. The two buildings each have room for six seniors. The organization follows the “Green House” model, meaning that instead of a traditional nursing or assisted living home, these facilities are much smaller and set up like a normal house. Staff have said they become very attached to the seniors, or elders, as they call them, in their care.
Clarke said two caregivers have been traveling to Omak to spend time with the four residents now living there.
“At least they have familiar faces,” she said.
Jamie’s Place is also working to provide caregivers to the two residents now living with family in the Methow.