'Hope is here': Senior care facility workers waiting for vaccine, looking forward to the future

Posted at 10:01 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-19 00:45:07-05

LOVELAND, Colo. — It's more than a vaccine to those inside senior care facilities.

"It represents hope," says Julie Lee, administrator for Good Samaritan Society Estes Park Village.

Delaine Holdemen's 92-year-old mother lives in the Good Samaritan Society Senior Living Resort in Windsor. The last time she hugged her mom not in plastic was in March.

"The hugging wall was great but the plastic was there between us so I was good and I can feel her warmth, but a real live heart with my mom is priceless and I’m looking forward to that," Holdemen said.

When the two can finally embrace is still up in the air but Chief Medical Officer at Good Samaritan Society, Dr. Gregory Johnson, hopes that time could be soon.

"Spring feels like a conservative hope that things could get back to what we are used to," Dr. Johnson told Denver7.

About half of senior care facilities in Colorado are currently dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, forcing most of the residents to live in isolation.

"Right now they spend a lot of time in the rooms," Lee said of her residents.

Lee says the mood has changed among staff and residents knowing the vaccine is within reach.

"The residents are definitely excited. They want to know when they could stop wearing their masks and when we can start eating in the dining room again," Lee explained.

In Phase One of the vaccination plan, frontline workers along with senior care facility residents and staff are eligible for the shot. For nursing homes distribution, the state is working with CVS and Walgreens to administer the vaccines.

The state told Denver7 on Thursday: "We estimate in around 10 days they will begin vaccinating. Within a few weeks, they can do all Skilled Nursing Facilities."

Dr. Johnson said a pharmacist will come to their facilities to administer the vaccine.

"We’ve been assured they will have all the proper PPE‘s and testing before hand," said Dr. Johnson.

The vaccines are given in two doses 3-4 weeks between shots. However, Dr. Johnson says each facility will get three visits from the pharmacist — this is for new admissions or if a current resident who previously was against getting the vaccine — changes their mind. Good Samaritan says they will not require staff or residents to get the vaccine, although it is encouraged.

Holdemen said her mom will be getting her shot.

"And down the road maybe will be able to do that live hug," Holdemen said with a smile.