Although COVID-19 cases and deaths have dominated news reports about senior living communities and nursing homes, a few communities have escaped the pandemic without a single coronavirus case.
Walden III, a Wind Gap, PA, independent living and assisted living community, recently completed second-dose vaccinations of 50 assisted living residents and most of its 20 staff members.
The achievement is impressive, given that less than 1% of the U.S. population lives in long-term care facilities but residents account for about 36% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths.
Samuel Cassidy, whose family owns Walden III, told LehighValleyLive.com that it took “a lot of hard work and preparation and more than a little luck” to prevent COVID-19 from entering its community.
Some of that luck, the news outlet stated, came when Wind Gap Pharmacy called him on Dec. 28 offering to host an onsite COVID-19 vaccine clinic. The pharmacy showed up the next day and was putting shots in arms.
Walden III was signed up for the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care vaccination program, but as an assisted living community, it was behind skilled nursing facilities in the line for vaccines.
Walden shut its doors to visitors before Pennsylvania locked the state down after seeing what happened in a nursing facility in Kirkland, WA.
Caledonia Senior Living & Memory Care in North Riverside, IL, almost made it through the pandemic without a single resident coronavirus case. One resident tested positive six days after the first vaccine was delivered. That resident no longer is positive, and no other residents have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Caledonia began administering the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine to staff members and residents on Jan. 12 through the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care program, with Walgreens as its pharmacy partner. All residents received their second doses on Tuesday.
“We are overjoyed the vaccine is finally making its way to our little community in North Riverside,” Caledonia Senior Living President Gus Noble said just after the first vaccination clinic. “We received the news about the vaccine on the winter solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year. From here, days get longer and lighter — and they say the darkest hour is right before the dawn.”
Like Walden, Caledonia attributed staff vigilance, luck and the grace of a higher power in avoiding coronavirus in its community back in July. Early in the pandemic, the community implemented continuous weekly testing of both staff and residents. Initially, three staff members and one agency employee tested positive and self-isolated before testing negative and returning to work.