CLEVELAND — It’s been a long year for all of us, but some of 2020’s biggest victims have been nursing home residents that have been isolated by their families and ravaged by COVID19.
However, hope is on the horizon. On Friday, 10 Ohio nursing homes will be the first in the nation to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Eliza Jennings Senior Care Network is not one of those 10, but CEO Rich Boyson said they’re looking forward to their delivery in the next two to three weeks.
He said the last nine months have been hard for staff and residents.
“We are an organization that is open 24/7. It’s not unusual to have residents have family members come and spend the night to stay over, yeah it’s been very odd for us,” he said.
It's been difficult, to say the least.
“We had to lock family members away from their loved ones and I think that has been the hardest part,” he said.
The three Eliza Jennings facilities throughout Northeast Ohio will receive the vaccine in the next coming weeks. But in the meantime, Boyson said they’re educating, preparing, and planning for distribution. They’ve taken surveys for residents and staff asking who would want the vaccine.
“We have seen a positive response rate from residents between 80 and 85% and the staff is a little more split, probably 50-55% are saying yes,” he said. “We are hoping for 50-60% of the staff to get it the first go around.”
Boyson noted since they’re not in the first round, they can see how other nursing homes are handling the vaccine and learn from there.
He said nothing will be mandated and there’s a different type of consent needed for different residents varying health conditions.
“Some are verbal, some for residents that are cognitively aware they can make that determination themselves,” he said.
In other cases where residents aren’t cognizant, family members can make the final call.
He said while they’re definitely feeling hopeful, it doesn’t mean they can loosen restrictions any time soon.
“We’ve aired on the side of caution since March and it’s served us well,” he said. “Now that we are sort of at the end of this marathon we don’t want to rush it and make any substantial changes any time soon.”