Maplecrest Assisted Living Executive Director Chad Liptow let out a sigh of relief last week, when he discovered that Walgreens would host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at his facility Wednesday.
“The COVID-19 vaccine provides an additional layer of protection for us,” he said. “The health and safety of our residents and staff is of utmost importance during this pandemic.”
Even before he learned the expected vaccination day, Liptow registered Maplecrest with the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program in November, which is a private-public partnership to vaccinate the most vulnerable.
Several weeks ago, he began distributing vaccination consent forms to all Maplecrest residents and their families with the goal of ensuring everything was ready to go when they were given a vaccination date.
When Walgreens arrived at the facility Wednesday, all residents had to do was check in at the front desk with a pharmacy worker before receiving their vaccination from a trained pharmacist.
“It was just a matter of them checking in, verifying a couple pieces of information and then they could get their shots,” Liptow said.
After receiving their shots, folks sat in a waiting area to monitor for side effects. In fact, Maplecrest provided whiteboards that residents could write why they got vaccinated, many of which included wanting to see family, attend church and feel safe.
Liptow sent pictures of residents with their whiteboards to family members and he also helped residents check in with the pharmacy staff.
Although some staff members received the vaccine early at Ripon Drug, Wednesday’s clinic provided Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to all residents, paid and unpaid staff and volunteers interested in receiving the shot.
Additionally, Maplecrest’s second clinic with Walgreens is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 17, in which everyone vaccinated this week will receive their second dose to ensure full protection.
“We are especially thankful to Walgreens for working with us to facilitate a very successful clinic,” Liptow said.
He added that the clinic went off without a hitch as residents and staff members provided positive feedback regarding the vaccine.
For many who received the vaccine, it wasn’t to protect themselves, but rather to protect those around them.
“I got the Covid-19 vaccine to protect my patients and future patients as I work to become a nurse,” said Jordan Honish, a certified nursing assistant at Maplecrest and Marian University nursing student. “It is very important that I protect my friends and family as well.”
Likewise, Clyde Olson, a musician who often volunteers his time to perform at Maplecrest, received the vaccine for the safety of others as well.
Olson helps his daughter run a bowling alley in Wausaukee, Wis. His daughter is currently receiving cancer treatment and Olson got the vaccine to protect her and continue providing needed help.
“I don’t want to spread anything to her, and if I get sick I can’t help her,” he said. “I want to be able to help her when I can. If I'm dead, I can't help her anymore.”
He said the vaccine felt “just like a normal shot” and that it wasn’t as bad as donating plasma, which uses a bigger needle.
Similarly, Maplecrest resident Joan Dorsch, who “isn’t big on shots,” also received the coronavirus vaccine.
“As long as it helps keep people healthy, it’s worth it,” she said.
Meanwhile, resident Doris Demuth said she received the vaccine because she’s “a firm believer in prevention.”
“I think we owe it to each other to prevent [COVID-19] from spreading and taking care of each other,” she said of her reason for receiving the vaccine.
Prior to the Walgreens clinic, Maplecrest Director of Nursing Vicki Hoch noted Maplecrest conducted facility-wide COVID-19 testing and found no coronavirus cases among staff and residents, which she believes is a testament to the facility’s handling of the pandemic.
Even so, she added that the vaccine plays a crucial role in returning to normalcy.
“The vaccine was developed to give us immunity, and it’s important for our residents to get back to a normal life again,” Hoch said. “With the restrictions in place, a lot of people did put a lot of effort into following the restrictions, but a lot of people didn’t and that’s why [COVID] spread.”
For the vast majority of people receiving the vaccine, Hoch said there haven’t been side effects.
At this time, Liptow added that the CDC and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) have not changed any guidelines regarding visitation in long-term facilities.
“At Maplecrest, we are pleased to offer indoor visiting, by scheduled appointment, in a designated area following very specific protocols, which included upgrading the HVAC system in that area to improve air circulation,” he said. “Despite receiving the vaccines, Maplecrest will continue to monitor staff and residents for symptoms of covid-related illness and follow other guidance set forth by the CDC and DHS.”