An emotional day: Blacksburg assisted living facility received COVID-19 vaccinations

New River Valley News

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — For COVID-19 vaccine distribution, assisted living facilities were placed into Phase 1b.

Residents in assisted living facilities are mostly independent, compared to nursing home residents who are in need of around-the-clock care.

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, in Blacksburg, English Meadows residents finally got their turn.

“It’s the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been waiting for,” said Melinda Collins, English Meadows Blacksburg Campus Administrator.

Now, the next step is to see when they can reopen their doors to visitors, something they haven’t been able to do since March.

“The loss of day-to-day interaction has been crushing, crushing,” said Mary Heavener, the daughter of an English Meadows resident.

Mary Heavener’s mother, Phyllis Hayes

Heavener’s mother, Phyllis Hayes, has been at English Meadows since April of 2019.

According to Heavener, her mother — who suffers from dementia — was thriving before the facility’s doors were closed in March 2020

Ten months of separation has caused her to mentally decline, making her vaccination welcome news to her family.

“Time is running out that you still have those memorable connections,” Heavener said with tears in her eyes. “You know, I still want all that time with her, where she still knows me, and I don’t know when that’s going to run out. This is just amazing.”

On the inside, residents like Betty Gordon, who has been living at English Meadows for five years, was excited to get her vaccine.

“I know that having the vaccine will protect me from this virus, which is a very wicked virus, and there’s been many deaths through it,” Gordon said. “It’s important that they vaccinate all of us here.”

“I just feel safe as can be; I feel taken care of,” said Jennie Todd-Roberts, who came to English Meadows during the pandemic.

Todd-Roberts says with the vaccine being administered, she’s counting down the days until she can hold her grandchildren again.

“When this is done, it’ll be God-given,” she said. “I’ll thank God so much. I think it’s going to happen, and I pray for it too.”

“Today (Wednesday) is the first day to getting back to better, getting back to the way things were before, where all of us could be together,” Collins said. “Today is a very emotional day because we’ve been waiting ten months for this.”

After everyone gets their second dose of the vaccine in early February, English Meadows hopes to reopen their doors to family and loved ones in mid-March, almost one year exactly from when they had them closed.

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