Amarillo senior community reaches 90 percent vaccination rate

VIDEO: Amarillo senior community reaches 90 percent vaccination rate

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Park Central senior community in Amarillo has about 600 residents and have now reached a 90 percent vaccination rate.

In a community effort, the City of Amarillo, Texas Tech, and CVS Pharmacy went to the senior living facility to vaccinate the residents on-site.

The nurse navigator describes a feeling of freedom among residents, after they reached the 90 percent vaccination rate.

She says one resident asked for a hug and for the first time in a long time she was able to open her arms and embrace them instead of just signaling a hug with her hands.

Just like that resident, many others also yearned for something as simple as a hug.

“I was sorta the same way, I remember when it started. It was like this can’t be real and then as we realized how real it was, same thing for me. We kinda hunkered down in our apartment and stay put there and I came to work and went home and that was our life for several months,” said Beth Byler, resident at Park Central and Building Manager at Park Place Towers.

To deal with the uncertainty, every week the staff gave the residents a rundown of what was going on with COVID-19.

When word about the vaccine rolled out, they provided them with pamphlets with information from the CDC and encouraged them to ask any questions they may have.

“When the residents heard of the vaccine on TV, I began getting phone calls asking me when. And I could get up to 10 to 15 phone calls a day, so they were ready,” said Karen Jeffers, nurse navigator for Baptist Community Services at Park Central Campus.

She says now that the majority of the residents have the vaccine, things are slowly starting to get back to normal.

“Even though we still socially distance and we still wear masks, people just feel for freer to live and they are not afraid anymore.” said Jeffers.

They have been able to open up the dining room and a couple activities like bingo.

Aside from residents feeling safer, the employees too have been able to come to work with a peace of mind.

“I didn’t want to risk resident since, I oversee more than one. I didn’t want to be in one building and think I might contract something and then take it to another. So, I stayed out of the buildings and did everything over the phones. So, I missed my residents really really badly.” said Kristi Greenway, administrator for Assisted Living at Park Central.

They say although these are baby steps, they are steps in the right direction and now ask community members to join them in keeping the senior citizens safe by taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

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