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'I couldn't hardly wait' — Dunklau Gardens residents receive COVID-19 vaccine
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'I couldn't hardly wait' — Dunklau Gardens residents receive COVID-19 vaccine

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Ken Livingston is tired of his daughter buying underwear for him.

The 74-year-old Dunklau Gardens resident has been isolated in the Fremont short-and-long term care facility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he may soon be able to return to some semblance of normal life in the coming months after receiving the first of two COVID-19 vaccines on Friday.

That means getting back to family and making up for time missed because of the pandemic.

Livingston said he has been anxiously awaiting the day he would receive the vaccine.

“I couldn’t hardly wait,” he said. “I’ve kind of checked each day to see when we were going to get it.”

Rachel Reiman, administrator of post acute services at Dunklau Gardens, said the building sent out communications to its residents explaining the vaccination process and asking if individuals wished to be vaccinated.

Of the 75 individuals at Dunklau Gardens, 72 consented to receiving the vaccine, according to Reiman. Those who declined weren’t pressed, she said.

“I think they just don’t, you know, feel comfortable yet,” she said.

The individuals who did receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will return in three weeks to receive their second dose.

“We’ve been waiting for this day forever,” Reiman said. “So we feel like, you know, it’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We know that we’ll continue to add precautions for a good couple months, because it will depend on how the community receives their vaccines, but our residents are thrilled. We’re thrilled for them. It couldn’t be a better day for us.”

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For Livingston, the months isolated from his family due to the pandemic have been lonely. He said he was disappointed that he couldn’t be with them, but understood that safety was a priority.

Now, Livingston can look to the future and plan on making up some of the lost time in his golden years with friends and family.

“We’re really at the age where that is important to us,” he said. “We’ve been locked up in here for our own safety and I’m aware of that, but we’re all excited about being able to socialize.”

Reiman said it was difficult to see residents separated from their family for such a long period of time. Despite the challenges, she said both residents and staff have been exceptional.

Now, they can start to look to the future.

“I can’t really tell you how great it feels and how special of a time it is for the residents,” she said. “They have been great. They have really been compliant with everything that has been asked of them. They have been fantastic throughout this whole time.”

Throughout the pandemic, Reiman said staff at Dunklau Gardens have modeled the core values of the Methodist Health System “to the maximum.”

“We are blessed to have the most excellent staff members that can model these core values and show that compassion to each of the residents,” she said.

Reiman said staff and residents have become family during this period. She noted the recent non-COVID-19-related death of an unnamed Dunklau Gardens resident as an example of the deep relationship between the two groups.

“I know one individual I had told yesterday that a resident had passed and she was bawling,” Reiman said. “I mean, that’s how close they are to these people. This is their family. They become part of their world and they just have great hearts and I so appreciate the work they do.”

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