Residents and staff at the Woodinville senior living community Fairwinds-Brittany Park are finally seeing a light at the end of a 10-month tunnel after receiving their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Friday, Jan. 8.
Seniors at Brittany Park are feeling immense relief as they have been following strict COVID-19 protocols since the pandemic began said Ryan Rasar, chief operations officer for the parent company Leisure Care. While the first dose doesn’t bring full immunity from the virus, this momentous occasion was an important first step.
"I felt lucky … didn’t know I was going to be the first resident in the community to get it and now I feel a little safer," said Marlene, a resident from Brittany Park and the first to be vaccinated.
Rasar said nearly 90% of the residents in Woodinville participated in the first vaccination process, and roughly 30% of staff received their doses as well. By the end of the day, he noted, 200 people were vaccinated with their first round of the Pfizer vaccine.
“It’s a great way to start the year,” Rasar said “It was a really celebratory moment for us, and one that was emotional just because of the last 10 months. We're super optimistic about this outcome.”
The vaccine distribution was made possible through a partnership with CVS Pharmacy, Rasar said. He said Brittany Park was the first facility in the Puget Sound area, and the second Leisure Care community overall, to receive the vaccine.
“I think we have some people, naturally, that are a little bit on the fence and want to see how everybody fares through the first one,” he said. “And really, other than some of our employees with a sore arm, there’s been no side effects at all.”
The community’s second clinic is scheduled for Jan. 29, he added, with another one set in February for anyone who missed a dose or changed their mind.
Rasar commended Kate Harrison, general manager at Brittany Park, and her team for keeping COVID-19 at bay. He said there were no major breakouts at the facility and only one positive test overall.
According to Rasar, the number one priority during the pandemic has been to keep both residents and staff as safe as possible. He said Leisure Care, which runs 40 retirement communities in 15 states, was one of the first operators in the country to have a widespread use of testing as a tool in its arsenal.
Additionally, he noted, each facility focused on increased sanitation and restricted access to members of the communities. Rasar said staff has been creative in figuring out how to keep residents engaged safely through resourceful activities in small group settings.
“There were some window visitations for sure,” Basar said. “Washington has allowed outdoor visitations, but as far as visitations go, the state has been very restrictive.”
Technology played a huge role in connecting people virtually during a time when no visitors were allowed inside, he added. With the vaccination process now underway, residents are optimistic for the return to normalcy.