COVID-19 Vaccine Brings Hope to Long-Term Residents, Staff at RCH
Residents and staff members at Reformed Church Home in Old Bridge received the first dose of the 2-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on January 5, just 3 weeks after the vaccine became available in New Jersey. Evelyn Arndt, who celebrated her 104th birthday on December 25, was gladly one of the first recipients during the vaccination clinic, as well as Magdalene Holland, a 92-year-old assisted living resident who was the Home’s first COVID survivor. The clinic at Reformed Church Home was conducted by Walgreens, whose team will return on January 26 to administer the second vaccination.
RCH Executive Director and Administrator Kate Shepard, reflecting on the importance of the day, said, “The clinic could not have happened a moment too soon! Although we have been blessed with no COVID fatalities, the fact that families have been separated from their loved ones is upsetting on many levels. Whatever it takes to try and bring residents and families back together, we are going to do it.”
Grace Brunner, RCH Advanced Practice Nurse, shared her enthusiasm as well, stating, “It was one of the happiest days here in a long time! We are starting the year off right, as in my opinion immunization is the only way out of this devastating situation. It’s the first step to recovery as a nation and to a return to a more normal lifestyle for our residents.” Brunner, in close collaboration with RCH medical director Edward Mezic, MD, and many dedicated nursing staff members, has coordinated care for residents infected with COVID-19 since the pandemic took hold last March.
Assisted Living resident Magdalene Holland, 92, said the vaccination clinic went very well and was very organized. “It [the vaccination] didn’t hurt. I was asked to wait for 15 minutes so they could observe if I had any side effects. I continue to have no ill effects whatsoever.” Holland was diagnosed with COVID-19 in April 2020 and spent 3 weeks recovering at Reformed Church Home in a separate COVID wing. Upon discharge, she insisted on walking back to her Assisted Living apartment, refusing wheelchair transport. When asked her opinion on the importance of the vaccine, she added, “We [the elderly] are at a high risk. It’s there for a reason so I feel we should take it.”
(Published in the Suburban News, January 13, 2021. See link below for full news article and photos.)