By Sharline Nabulime March 14th, 2021
At the peak of the pandemic nursing homes and long-term care facilities were reporting alarming infection and death rates. As COVID-19 ravaged these already vulnerable communities, Massachusetts nursing homes had one of the highest death rates in the nation according to a Boston Globe report.
On January 24th, 2021, “The first step of the end of the virus,” as one senior resident aptly put it came in the form of the long-awaited vaccine. Pat Delorey, a resident of The Parc At Harbor View Senior Living in Winthrop, Mass said that she was extremely excited as she waited for her turn to be vaccinated. When asked how she was feeling after she received her shot in the arm, she said she was feeling well and hopeful.
The Parc At Harbor View Partnered with CVS Pharmacy to administer the CoronaVirus Vaccine to its senior residents. While many other facilities are encumbered with the amount of paperwork entailed in vaccination drives per CDC regulations, in light of being short-staffed, the vaccination drive at The Parc was adequately staffed, flowed seamlessly, and carried on very well.
Residents waited a few minutes in the hallway before being registered for their shot.
At the registration station, the residents’ identity was verified before they moved on to the next station.
Also, being able to register 2 residents at a time helped move the traffic along rather quickly.
The residents then proceeded to the next stations where their temperature was checked. Following that were detailed questions about their overall health.
Here are some of the questions asked to determine the seniors’ eligibility to safely receive the vaccine:
Onto the vaccination stations, they went in eager anticipation of protection that many like Geraldine Testa hope will protect them from getting COVID-19 again.
“I have underlying conditions and when I ran a temperature, I knew I had the virus,” Testa recounted that horrifying diagnosis. She had gone to Mass General Hospital for something else when she learned that she had the Corona Virus but grateful to be living at The Parc because she feels they handled the outbreak in the facility very well. What did they do well in your opinion? “They isolated us, which we were not happy about but they had to do what they had to do. And then nursed us back to health. That is why I think it is so important to get the vaccine because you never know,” Testa added with her vaccination record card in hand and the nurse, Efrance Kasana, who nursed her back to health by her side.
Efrance Kasana, RN, and Health Services Director at The Parc at Harbor View is being hailed a local hero because while many feared to enter the rooms of COVID-19 stricken residents at the facility, she dove right in, fully clad in her PPE, to make sure that her patients were comfortable because they were in isolation. She would reassure them that they were going to be okay, take their temperature, and proceed to meet their healthcare needs as their situations changed.
I asked Kasana a few questions:
Me: “I was talking to a resident and I asked her what this facility did well. She said that they were isolated and did not like it but it was good. So what do you think you did differently to not only keep from losing anybody to the virus but also make sure everyone recovered?”
Kasana: “So what we did first was of course basic precautions, isolation, and making sure everybody was hydrated. My team and I monitored everyone, every hour, to make sure that all the residents were hydrated. We provided them with fluids to prevent dehydration. When people are in isolation they can recover from COVID or for some, isolation can prevent them from not getting COVID. However, they can also have or develop other issues such as poor nutrition and dehydration. And those with underlying issues have to be monitored,” Kasana explained.
Me: “How do you think today is going?”
Kasana: “Today is going fantastic! Everybody is getting the vaccination. They were all waiting for this for a very long time. So far no one has gotten side effects. We have been monitoring them for 15 minutes after they get the vaccination. There is no one with severe side effects that we were worried about but of course, we are prepared in case of any severe reactions. We are very lucky so far. It is going very well."
Residents being monitored after their vaccinations.
The waiting area where the residents were monitored for 15 minutes after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
A resident who only wished to be identified as Mary refused to get the vaccination citing a lack of knowledge of who the healthcare professionals administering the vaccine were. When I asked her if it would help if they talked to her about it, Mary said that she does not trust the vaccine and will not get it. “I am not going to get vaccinated and I don't know why we can’t leave it at that,” Mary asserted.
Kasana said it was her right to refuse the vaccine but hoped she would reconsider especially after what the community has been through together.
The Parc residents were thanked by the executive director for their participation in being some of the first to stop the spread.
And to continue promoting good hydration, which had been one of the keys elements in fighting COVID-19 during quarantine, residents were given water as a thank-you.
UPDATE AS OF MARCH 15TH, 2021: All the residents at The Parc are vaccinated, as well as most of the staff - thanks to my sister, Efrance, a true Pandemic Shero. I might be a tad biased but so are the numerous residents I spoke to, as well as their family members. A special thank-you to my sister and her staff, and ALL the healthcare professionals who daily put their lives at risk to keep us safe - we are indebted to you. And to all those we have lost to COVID-19, we will never forget you. We honor your memory by doing our part to stop the spread.
Here are various COVID19 Resources and everything you need to know about re-opening Massachusetts.
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