By Roberto Muñiz
Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine was a great way for us to begin 2021 at Parker. I am grateful that the state recognized the dire need that long-term care organizations have for the vaccine, and that we have been among the first in the state to receive it. We have carefully monitored information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicated that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any of the very limited risks. I believe there are several key elements that made our first round of the vaccine such a success.
Knowing that the vaccine would be released in December, we had been preparing for all of our residents and employees to promptly receive it. In anticipation, we developed a goal of ensuring that 100% of our residents would receive the vaccine as rapidly as it became available. I am proud to report that we came very close to our goal, as Parker residents and staff received the first dose between January 10-14. Close to 100% of residents opted to receive the dose and a majority of our employees. Within days, we were among the very first senior care communities in the state to achieve this important goal.
Not only are we proud of our residents for their eagerness to participate in this life-saving program, but we also want to extend our most sincere appreciation to their close family and friends – all of whom recognized the immediate benefits of the program and ensured Elders received these vaccinations for the health of the entire Parker community.
I would also like to express a “thank you” to the Parker staff, which coordinated the vaccination program at all five of our homes. As you can imagine, there was a lot of planning, coordination and education required, ensuring efficient protocols to expedite the process. We were able to distance our employees, while establishing registration and check-in areas. We also monitored our residents and staff after their vaccination in the event of adverse reactions.
For those who may have been apprehensive, we wanted to create a festive atmosphere. There is a lot to be thankful for as we hope the vaccine will end this pandemic. Therefore, our staff prepared the waiting areas with music, games and songs as residents and employees waited for their shots, which certainly aided in the process. Again, I must thank our staff for both their enthusiasm and ingenuity.
I joined in the recreational activities and was pleased to roll up my sleeves and show our residents and staff that I was just as eager as everyone to be vaccinated. I then went around to our Elders and staff to explain the easy process and, once again, reassured them that it was nothing to be concerned about.
Weeks prior to receiving the vaccine, Dr. David Howarth, one of our Medical Directors answered some common questions and dispelled myths in a video we created, which was shared with our entire community. We also held live telecommunications calls where residents and their families, as well as employees, could ask questions of our Chief Clinical Officer. We sent several internal messages through email and our phone system with critical information about the rollout. I believe all of these communications ensured the process went as smoothly as possible and was the key to the success of this roll-out to our employees, all of whom played a part in this speedy process.
Following the guidance of the state, with medical personnel on hand at every turn, Parker is immensely proud to say that we were able to administer shots over the six-day period, thus ensuring close to 100% of our Elders are vaccinated and can begin to prepare, once again, for the engaging lifestyle that is the hallmark of our tight-knit community.
This is a defining moment at Parker, as we march toward the normalcy that our Elders and staff crave and certainly deserve after these many long months.