Embrace Living Communities has always been intentional about protecting the health and safety of its residents, and this commitment was at the forefront of their efforts to protect residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was true from the onset of the pandemic through early 2021 when vaccines began to be administered at clinics at Embrace Living Communities. Thanks to careful planning and participation from both staff and residents, these clinics were a major success.
Embrace Living’s COVID-19 vaccination plan began back in October of 2020 when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control announced the groups they were going to prioritize for vaccines. Section 202 properties, supportive housing for the elderly, fell under Phase 1a alongside hospitals, first responders and other essential workers.
Following the announcement, Embrace Living signed up to offer their residents vaccines as soon as they became available. Once pharmacy partnerships with Walgreens and CVS began to open up, Embrace Living was at the front of the line to start scheduling appointments. Vaccinations began at Embrace Living Communities on January 11, 2021.
Chicago communities were among the first to receive vaccination clinics because when the vaccine was released federally, Chicago was in a direct line to vaccine availability and were in a position to offer immunizations a little faster. Embrace Living’s Missouri communities also began vaccinating on January 11th, with Florida communities beginning January 16th and suburban Chicago communities beginning on January 28th.
Residents were informed of vaccine sign-up via flyers that were passed out to every resident alongside a follow-up phone call from the social service coordinator in their building. The flyer recommended that residents have conversations with their families and physicians to discuss whether receiving the vaccine was the right step for them. They could either sign up for an appointment when their coordinator called or contact their coordinator and request to be on the list.
“The health and safety of our residents and employees remains our paramount concern, and I’m pleased with our participation effort,” says Ralph Gaines, Embrace Living CEO. “Although we do not have a defined date yet, these results will go a long way in helping us return to a more normal pre-COVID environment at all of our communities. I would like to thank everyone who was involved with our vaccination plan and Jennifer Truppa for her leadership during this four-month period.”
Each community was careful to have strict processes and protocols in place to not only protect residents but also protect the staff. This meant maintaining six feet of distance where possible, managing crowds through scheduling and having Embrace Living staff sanitize surfaces and seating between vaccinations. According to Jennifer Truppa, Director of Social Services and Quality Assurance at Embrace Living, pharmacy partners complimented our community teams at each clinic for how prepared, efficient and well-run they were.
“Residents really were very appreciative, and their gratitude overflowed,” says Truppa. “Coordinators indicated as the clinics were completed that this was the most rewarding program that they had ever offered to residents… The residents had been sheltered in place for nine months at that point, and they only went out when it was absolutely necessary. At the time they were receiving the vaccines, their doctors weren’t even able to offer them, so this was an opportunity for them to return to some sort of normalcy in their eyes.”
One of the biggest imperatives Truppa and the team at Embrace Living stressed through these clinics was maintaining the dignity of residents. This meant encouraging residents to wear short-sleeved shirts or clothing that allowed for easy access to the upper arm to administer the vaccine so they didn’t have to disrobe.
Another imperative was to ensure that clinics were convenient and easily accessible for residents. Embrace Living staff was intentional in controlling the flow of traffic in a way that kept residents safe and made it clear where residents were supposed to be at any given point during the vaccination process. This was thanks to careful and proactive planning on the part of Truppa, the service coordinators at each community and the property management team at each community to ensure everything from check-in to the post-vaccine waiting period was considered. Residents who did not receive a vaccination at one of the clinics and want a vaccination are able to schedule an appointment with one of the social service coordination teams.
“This is a blessing, and I feel so fortunate to be able to receive this vaccination now. Others are placed on a waitlist, but because Embrace Living brought it here, I am so thankful to all of you,” said Ms. Ivory.
1,917 residents, staff and caregivers received the vaccine through Embrace Living’s clinics, and just under 70% of residents elected to receive the vaccine. The oldest resident to receive the vaccination was 104.
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