“Proactive” is how Dave Mannion, CEO, described the response of Copeland Oaks Retirement Community to the water issues that have plagued the Village of Sebring since Thursday. The retirement community in Sebring receives water from the village system.

Mannion praised the staff of Copeland Oak and Crandall Medical Center for the “quick and global response” to the news that water from Sebring may contain levels of lead that are higher than the range deemed safe for drinking by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Copeland administrative staff learned of the water issue Thursday from a 11 P.M. TV news broadcast, and verified the information with Sebring village officials at 11:30 P.M. The Copeland management team was immediately notified and a directive was issued to turn off all sources of drinking water in the main building complex, according to Jason Cicchillo, Copeland Chief Operating Officer. Mannion reported that by 1:30 A.M. on Friday, 130 cases of bottled water were delivered by Copeland staff to the campus and made available to residents and staff for cooking and drinking. Bagged ice was also delivered to the Copeland kitchens and to Crandall Medical Center. The water and ice were obtained from local retail sources, Cicchillo noted.

Friday morning, Mannion notified Copeland Oaks residents of the water situation by a special broadcast on the campus television station and messages were sent to all Copeland residents via the in-house emergency contact system.

Staff verified that all sources of drinking water had been turned off and posted with “Do Not Use” signs and all coffee, juice and ice machines throughout the campus were turned off. Additional quantities of bottled water were delivered to the Copeland campus over the weekend by the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) team and are available at Murphy Auditorium.

Also, over the weekend, Mannion met with EPA representatives, the Mahoning County Health Department and Emergency Management services, and Sebring officials. Mannion reported to residents and staff via Copeland TV, updating them on the water situation, efforts by local and state officials to correct the problem, precautions if using tap water and locations of bottled water.

According to Sebring Manager Richard Giroux, the water being tested may be reacting with lead in pies in older homes causing the higher levels.

“To my knowledge, there are no lead pipes on the Copeland campus,” said JerryThomas, director of maintenance.

Mannion verified that Copeland has requested official testing of water supply sites throughout the campus and were assured by Pat Sweeney, Mahoning County Health Department Director, that testing would be done on Wednesday.

Cicchillo noted that the EPA directive regarding drinking water does not include water used for personal hygiene and cleaning. “Bedside care at Crandall is continuing as usual. Bottled water and ice have been provided on a 24-hour basis to all residents and staff so that care has not been interrupted,” emphasized Cicchillo, Crandall administrator.

A representative from the Ohio Area Agency on Aging (AAA) visited the campus, including Crandall Medical Center, on Monday to evaluate Copeland’s response and interview residents. The AAA report indicated that the water situation regarding communication to residents and staff, and providing alternative supplies of drinking water has been handled appropriately by Copeland administration, according to Cicchillo.

“Copeland Oaks and Crandall Medical Center have always been focused foremost on the safety of our residents and staff. Our approach to this situation was to continue that mission and tradition,” said Mannion.

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