When the pandemic first hit Cheshire, places like Elim Park Place became ground zero for the fight against the virus
Luckily, Elim Park Place has come out on top as they can now officially report nearly 100% of all residents are vaccinated, and 75% of the staff has been inoculated as well.
“Talk about a stark change in our daily routine,” said President and CEO Brian Bedard. “We shifted so rapidly from (taking care of our residents) to immediately being on guard at all times to defend our residents from this virus. This virus is so deadly to the population we serve, and now here we are, a year out, looking at the end of the tunnel. It’s been such a ride.”
On Jan. 7, the facility received the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, marking an extremely emotional event for all staff and residents involved.
“Most of us cried that day,” Bedard added. “It was a career-defining moment for me when I could walk those Walgreens employees (who administered the vaccine) down with the life-saving vaccines for our residents and staff.”
After that first day, Bedard was happy to report that there were no severe adverse reactions to the vaccine, and now he can attest to a majority of residents returning to life as it was prior to the pandemic. After the first doses arrived, the facility partnered with the Chesprocott Health District to continue administering vaccines to residents and staff until everyone who wanted them had received them.
“Our residents are out and about again. They were really needing that human connection and now they can resume that,” Bedard explained. “While we did have so many programs for our residents while they were in quarantine and social distancing, nothing can replace that human connection.”
Elim Park live-streamed exercise classes using items, such as soup cans, that residents would have on hand, as well as live concerts on TV, and created multiple grocery shopping programs for residents who could not leave their apartments.
“One of my employees, Maria, created ‘Elim Cart’ which helps residents get their groceries,” Bedard said. “She didn’t even have to do something like that. She spent all her free time working on this and it became an integral part of our community.”
“Our staff stepped up so much to help our residents and we cannot thank them enough for what they’ve been through,” he continued.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Bedard and his team were concerned about their health care staff and how they would be protected. Ultimately, some staff members did leave their positions due to the unknown dangers that COVID-19 posed.
“We did lose some staff members,” Bedard admitted. “And we understand that completely. But the ones who stayed, they had to provide elevated care, even more than what they were used to, which I think made their job that much more dangerous. Coming to work each day was a danger, but we, thankfully, know so much more now than we knew then.”
Elim Park Place’s director of communications, Cheryl Sheehan, commented on how the overall morale of Elim Park residents has completely changed throughout the pandemic.
“I think our residents are grateful to be here and grateful that we could provide the care that they needed, even during something like a pandemic,” she said. “I believe they felt safer knowing that we were there to support them no matter what happened.”