The vaccine is here and the Deutsches Altenheim community has taken a major step toward (hopefully) ridding our campus of coronavirus! While the vaccine has not been fully embraced by all, we have been proactively engaging with staff, enabling them to voice their concerns and, when possible, offer a resolution. I am humbled by, and enamored of, those who didn’t let their fears stand in the way of getting vaccinated for the common good.
Edelweiss Village held their first vaccine clinic on January 11th followed immediately by German Centre on January 13th. Most residents received the vaccine, and those that did not had valid reasons for declining. Across the campus, we estimate 50%-60% of our staff received the first of the two-dose vaccine. Several more are anticipating receiving their first vaccine at the next clinic on February 1st or February 3rd at Edelweiss Village and German Centre. Our final vaccine clinics are scheduled for February 22nd and 24th. I invite you to view videos of the vaccine clinics: German Centre #1, German Centre #2, and Edelweiss Village.
The after effects of the vaccine appear to have been minimal. None of our residents appeared to experience side effects greater than a sore arm. A few team members reported slight flu-like symptoms for a day or two. Not a bad result considering the benefits the vaccine promises.
German Centre currently has two staff members out on leave and one long-term resident is in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus during our regular surveillance testing. Our aggressive testing protocol has proven to be extremely helpful in identifying positive cases to prevent further spread among our population.
Senior Place staff were among those who received the vaccine. Unfortunately, because program participants do not reside on our campus, they were not eligible to receive the vaccine per Dept. of Public Health regulations.
Virtual programming is becoming more mainstream. Online entertainment, exercise programs help staff augment in-person activities. According to Program Director Diane Dunning, the most popular virtual program is sing-a-longs on the YouTube channel!
As noted above, one COVID-positive case among our long-term residents came to light during routine surveillance testing. A quarantine section on one unit was created in December for use in the event this should occur.
Across the campus, we installed Smart TVs in all German Centre bedrooms and Edelweiss Village common rooms, and contracted with a provider for campus-wide cable service. For German Centre residents, it means they will no longer have to make arrangements with, and pay for, outside cable providers. The Smart TVs also allow us to customize some programming, which is helpful during times of isolation or for those with mobility issues. As with most new things, the upgrade isn’t without a few hiccups. We thank families and residents for their patience.
German Centre welcomed a new Director of Nursing, Austin Azeta, RN, BSN. Interestingly, nursing is his second career. Austin first received a BS in Finance from Suffolk University in 1996 and worked for several years in international global trade. Austin graduated from Curry College in 2003 and spent the majority of his nursing career in long-term care. “Nursing is the most fulfilling thing I’ve done in my life,” says Austin. Welcome Austin!
Residents eagerly anticipated the arrival of the vaccine. The vaccines were administered in each apartment’s doorway and staff was on hand to monitor residents for 15 minutes after the injection. There was a lot of paperwork involved, but once the process got started it rolled along without any issues.
We bid farewell to Resident Care Coordinator Marilyn Fox, LPN. Marilyn has been a member of the Edelweiss Village team for seven years. We will miss her steadfast leadership of the nursing team. Rachelle Bredy, former Unit Manager at German Centre, has been shadowing Marilyn and will step into the position. Fond farewell Marilyn and best of luck Rachelle.
A Final Thought
With the first vaccine shot under our belt and the low rate of virus infections on our campus this fall and early winter, it appears the pall of COVID-19 continues to lift. In the general demeanor of staff, the resilience of residents, and overall optimism felt on campus, a new day is dawning.
I would be remiss if I didn’t extend my/our heartfelt thanks to our amazing staff who endured exhaustive shifts and unthinkable heartbreak. And to you, our supporters, I thank you for continuing to step up when needed and for reminding us to be the best we can be.
Stay safe and be well,
Michael B. Lincoln
Download the UPDATE: January 22 Update