We Still Serve the 1%
Eighteen months later, here we are. We can move more freely and are forever thankful to see our residents' smiling faces again, who we missed so much last summer. And yet, 18 months later, we are still in a pandemic.
Last summer, Executive Director Jami Gross (now the ED at Fellowship Square Surprise) wrote a blog post about those who are most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19:
"Less than 1% of the population will continue to be affected. This population includes our people; our employees, our residents. 1% may seem insignificant, until that number affects you."
For Fully Vaccinated Individuals...
My office is in Fellowship Square, in Independent Living, where masks are optional for those who are vaccinated. Even still, I sometimes hesitate when getting up from my desk to go into the Lobby – should I bring my mask? I'm vaccinated, but I still can't shake the urge for extra precaution. Plus, after 12 months of wearing a mask, it feels weird to walk around without one. I certainly have one if I'm heading over to Assisted Living, where regulations state that everyone must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. And because it is not necessary for me to be in the Health Care Center, I haven't entered the building in 18 months out of an abundance of precaution.
Oasis Resident Tom W. and me - one of the many faces I missed last year, (and no, it's not your screen...I still haven't mastered selfies)
Last year, I felt safer at work than I did anywhere else – I knew how carefully we adhered to rigorous infection control protocols, mask mandates and contact tracing procedures. That wasn't necessarily the case in the 'outside world' - I wasn't always sure how closely procedures were followed in other places. Interestingly, when talking to my physician and friends who worked in other healthcare fields, they all felt the same way. In various ways, we had each seen the devastating effects COVID had had on those we serve. We worked very hard to protect them every day; it felt too risky to be outside our bubble.
Don't get me wrong; I am very thankful to be mask-free. However, I can also say that if I weren't vaccinated, I wouldn't feel as comfortable as I do now. And I would still be wearing a mask when in public and crowded indoor spaces.
COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics on Campus
Christian Care Fellowship Square was one of the first retirement communities in Phoenix to host COVID vaccine clinics for their residents and employees on campus. Admittedly, I wasn't sure how I felt about getting the vaccine myself; I went through a few phases before deciding to do it. But by mid-March, I was fully vaccinated.
Arriving at my decision to get vaccinated
After a bout with cancer seven years ago, I was hesitant to get a new type of vaccine. When I spoke to my oncologist, he gave me the green light and highly encouraged me to get the vaccine. **Disclaimer: everyone's medical circumstances are different – my physician's recommendation for me to get vaccinated was based on my circumstances alone. It is essential for you to always talk with your doctor about any medical conditions or concerns.
Learning from colleagues who had been (and still are) following developments, studies, and data regarding the vaccine helped as well. There is so much information and misinformation; it is helpful to talk directly to healthcare providers who stay abreast of developments through trustworthy resources.
Socially Connected Once Again
Fellowship Square Residents at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, one of their first trips after being fully vaccinated.
However, what drove me to get vaccinated was my desire to see everyone enjoying life again. To see our residents in the Garden Café enjoying each other's company, and to see our invaluable employees laughing and talking with residents as they go about their day. To squeeze my wild grandkids after 12 long months and meet their sweet baby sister, who arrived this June.
Getting vaccinated gave me the confidence to go out and about, knowing that not only was I protected, but I was also safeguarding those around me – both known and unknown. Protecting strangers, someone else's sister, son, or father, who may have compromised immune systems and who might not be able to fight COVID as well as another.
A few days ago, I read an interesting opinion article written by Stephen I. Vladeck, the Charles Alan Wright Chair in Federal Court at the University of Texas School of Law. While his article has probably gotten people riled up in one way or another, his assertions all support one basic concept: the responsibility we have to protect one another.
Professor Vladeck states: “Before Covid-19 became highly politicized, we seemed to understand and accept the importance of public health and safety -- even if it required some degree of personal sacrifice. That's because, like every other state, Texas recognizes the age-old principle that my right to swing my arms ends at your nose -- and vice-versa.”
Please be careful swinging your arms around fellow humans, especially seniors.
We still serve the 1%, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.