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Vaccines boost confidence, morale at Shelby nursing home
Star - 2/15/2021
Feb. 15—The isolation and loneliness felt by nursing home and assisted living residents, and even employees, has been palpable since the coronavirus made its way to North Carolina nearly a year ago.
But that cloud is slowly lifting as vaccines make their way into the arms of residents and employees.
Elmcroft of Shelby embraced its second round of vaccines Thursday.
A team from CVS rolled up to the small community on Charles Road to find staff members dressed as super heroes and all but two of the facility's 30 residents ready to get the next round of the vaccine. One of those not getting the shots is in the hospital, and the other had an allergic reaction to the first one.
Elmcroft's parent company is moving toward making vaccinations mandatory for employees.
Elmcroft's Executive Director Ann Watts got her shot during the clinic Thursday. She said 31 of her 40 employees are being vaccinated. Those opting out must provide medical or religious reasons for abstaining.
She said moving forward, even new hires will have to have a negative COVID-19 test and the vaccination.
Those at Elmcroft had another reason to celebrate over the weekend. After suffering its second outbreak since the pandemic began, the facility was cleared of its recent 35 cases Friday.
To celebrate, a dance and celebration happened Friday, and a special Valentine's Day meal was served in the dining room Sunday.
A communal meal may not seem the grandest of celebrations, but after weeks of isolation it was a big deal, Watts said.
Like most nursing homes, Elmcroft was closed off from the public when the pandemic began. Residents ate in their rooms, and activities were altered to keep everyone apart.
Eventually restrictions were eased, and the home had an outbreak.
With the recent vaccinations and continued safety measures, Watts said she's hopeful that reopening common areas and allowing visitors won't cause another outbreak.
Letting the residents spend time with their loved ones can be almost as important as the vaccine for some, Watts said.
"I think the isolation is the hardest thing for some residents to have gone through," she said. "It's been tough on families that can't visit their loved ones as much."
Watts called isolation a double-edged sword, providing physical protection but potentially causing depression and mental trauma.
For employees, getting the vaccine means peace of mind that they won't spread the virus.
"I think that's the biggest relief for all of us," said Watts.
Through nearly a year of wading through the rough waters of COVID-19, Elmcroft has seen great support from the families and community overall, Watts said.
Families have sent cards and goodie baskets, people hosted distant Bible studies and Gardner-Webb students stepped up to volunteer.
"The community absolutely has been very supportive," she said.
Diane Turbyfill can be reached at 704-669-3334 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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