Photos: Visiting animals spark joy for assisted living residents - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Photos: Visiting animals spark joy for assisted living residents

A resident at Mountain Plaza Assisted Living pets a horse after a Glenrock family brought their animals to the home on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. It was one of the first time some of the residents had seen outside visitors since the facility was locked down in early March to prevent the spread of coronavirus. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. – The residents of Mountain Plaza Assisted Living were clearly thrilled at the sight of a chicken, mini-mule, a big horse and a dog on Wednesday afternoon.

Usually it’s the chicken, HeiHei, who gets the most reaction during recent visits to other retirement homes, but today it was Zip, the energetic and loving family dog.

The animals belong to Cathy and Dan Holman, who with their five kids and multiple animals live on several acres in Glenrock.

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Cathy is likely better known as the Prairie Wife In Heels, who runs a popular blog and hosts a morning show on MyCountry radio.

These days she’s doing her show from her makeshift kitchen studio as she and her family quarantine.

But it was the prospect of giving happiness to other people in quarantine during the COVID-19 era that brought her family and several animals to Casper.

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

She said her friend Mindy Marohn reached out to her about the idea of bringing the animals to show residents of Garden Square Assisted Living the animals through the windows a couple of weeks back. Marohn’s late mother had been a resident there.

Cathy was deeply moved by the experience.

“There were tears on both sides of the windows multiple times the first time we went,” she said. “We also saw a lot of emotion with our ‘Wyoming Strong’ sign we brought.”

Mountain Plaza Assisted Living Administrator Kenyne Humphrey said the experience helps moral and mood among the residents, who’ve been on lockdown in the facility since March 3.

“They need the fresh air, the sunlight…they need out of the building,” said Humphrey.

Humphrey saw Cathy’s blog on her other assisted living visits, and thought it was a wonderful idea. Then she got a call.

“They reached out to us,” she said. “This is a beautiful opportunity, there was no way we could turn this down.”

Staff carefully moved the residents to the front of the building. Everyone wore masks and hand sanitizer was applied almost obsessively during the visit.

“It offered the perfect opportunity to give them some joy and do it safely,” she said.

It was a rare diversion from weeks of quarantine, which has been difficult for the residents and their families. She says families often visit through windows and electronic media to stay connected.

“It’s still not the same as being together,” she said.

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email:

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.