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Church Hill Village Begins COVID Vaccine Program For Residents, Staff



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January 10 marked the roll-out of the first institutional COVID-19 vaccination program at a congregate care facility in Newtown, and another was poised to commence on January 17.

Executive Director Laura Pulsifer at Church Hill Village notified The Newtown Bee that her facility had received and distributed the inoculations, while management at Maplewood at Newtown were readying for this week’s clinic.

After experiencing just one verified COVID-19 infection in a resident since the novel coronavirus arrived in Connecticut last March, Pulsifer said in an e-mail message that resident was “doing just fine, thankfully.”

“After a very, very difficult few weeks with keeping staff out who are exposed and ill, and watching our area numbers climb, I take such pride in the individual and group efforts of the entire Church Hill Village community to make the following announcement — all resident COVID-19 tests this week are back and are negative,” Pulsifer said.

Pulsifer said besides all the facility’s residents receiving the first round of the vaccine, many of the Church Hill Village associates were also vaccinated.

“I hope this keeps their families and our town safe, too,” she said. “I did not even realize the full weight of the worry of the past year until the night before the vaccine clinic... worry that permeated home time, work time, school time, sports time. Everyone, everywhere, carried this worry. Literally, there was worry with each breath of 2020. What a tremendous relief.”

Pulsifer explained that the second dose of the vaccine, due to be distributed later this month, “will almost guarantee COVID-19 protection to every resident.”

“I speak for our entire leadership team and every associate when I tell you we cannot wait for that day when we leave work and know our residents are safe from this virus. That day is closer,” Pulsifer said. “This does not yet mean we can change any associate, resident, or visitor protocols or remove restrictions. Please continue to be vigilant to protect all our associates, residents, and families at home.”

Jillian Jarrin, director of sales and marketing, observed, “Overall the vaccine clinic went smoother than we could have hoped for. It really seemed to instill a renewed sense of hope throughout the entire building.”

Jarrin said one Church Hill Village employee was near tears in excitement to be able to finally see her grandparents.

“As my family says, doing nothing changes nothing. I personally was a last-minute converter to get the vaccine. I went back and forth with it a lot, but ultimately it’s not just about me but everyone around me,” Jarrin added. “The nervous energy through the community leading up to vaccination day has changed to joy.”

A spokesperson said in a January 2 notification that Maplewood Senior Living is “extremely excited” to be offering the vaccine to residents and associates across its communities. Maplewood at Darien, hosted its first clinic January 5. Newtown’s neighboring Bethel facility at Stony Hill provided vaccines on January 7.

Thomas Sheehan, Church Hill Village Director of Hospitality, and resident Dorothy Graves were among a large number of staff and residents at the facility completing their first round of COVID-19 vaccines at a recent clinic. Several other staff members are completing quarantines before getting their vaccines, according to a company official. — photos courtesy Jillian Jarrin
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