Finding Hope After Isolation: Zelma Lacey Residents Ecstatic About Vaccination Program

It may just be a shot in the arm for a lot of folks, but for the residents of the Zelma Lacey House – a long-term care and assisted living facility in Thompson Square – the COVID-19 vaccine is a chance at recovering the basic freedoms they’ve lost since the pandemic hit last March.

Executive Director Charles James said the home had its first vaccination clinic last month with CVS bringing in the Pfizer vaccine, and they came back this week to deliver the second dose to residents and staff. He said that he was proud to report that 98 percent of residents and staff have chosen to take the vaccine.

Dianna Turner, of the Zelma Lacey House, was all smiles after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are really excited about getting this second dose,” he said. “I think if anything else, especially with the year we’ve just had, we are very blessed we didn’t have anyone die at the facility. We did have a few positive cases, but everything was okay. This gives residents and staff a sense of relief that they will be okay and might be able to go back to some normalcy.”

In fact, while many along Main Street and Bunker Hill Street and in the Navy Yard have gone about their business in a safe and careful way over the past 10 months, many in the Zelma have not been able to venture out. With compromised health, James said most have been terrified and have been isolated.

“Residents are isolated and staying in their rooms,” he said. “We have opened up a little, but residents are self-quarantining anyway because they are very scared they could get infected. The vaccine has brought a sense of hope here. Residents are excited they might be able to socialize with one another again and be able to visit with friends, family, and grandchildren in person once again.”

In fact, there has been quite a bit of celebratory delay in their lives from the past year, missing out on the usual fun things of being a grandparent.

James said one resident had a grandchild born during the pandemic, and she hasn’t really been able to see or welcome that child. It has been heartbreaking, but it is the vaccine that gives such residents hope that such deferred living will end.

“She did get to have a window visit and see the child, but it just isn’t the same as being able to hold a grandchild in one’s arms,” he said.

The state and federal government prioritized long-term care and assisted living facilities as some of the first to receive the vaccine. In a public-private partnership around the country with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreen’s, most homes are looking at wrapping up their vaccination programs by March 1.

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