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Naomi Heights Nursing & Rehabilitation Center receives COVID-19 vaccines

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 7:39 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Naomi Heights Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Alexandria is the latest health care facility to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Walgreens Pharmacy distributed more than 100 Moderna vaccine doses to residents and staff.

Naomi Heights used their living and dining area to vaccinate some residents while others received the vaccine in their rooms. Staff followed residents being vaccinated in the dining area. Recipients were screened before getting the shots. Theresa Wall is the Naomi Heights Administrator, who said everyone was excited to get vaccinated for the positive changes the vaccination will provide.

“We’re really excited about today,” Wall said. “We really think that it’s going to make a difference in our facilities not only for that but for our staff and their families as well and in our community. We’re hoping for some big changes to come up in the next few months as the vaccines get throughout the community, but we’re looking for some good things.”

As of the most recent update, the Louisiana Department of Health reports that the state has administered 159,698 total doses.

“I don’t mind it. Anything that’s keeping me from carrying the germs to somebody and them bringing the germs to me,” Martha Barber, a 104-year-old resident, said of the coronavirus restrictions and protocols.

“I tell them to take it, if it doesn’t do you no harm it will do you good,” Barber said.

She’s also a COVID-19 survivor.

“The good Lord kept the pains from me. I didn’t hurt…I didn’t pain too much,” Barber said.

There’s a strong sense of family at Naomi Heights.

“This is my family here,” Barber said.

Naomi Heights used their living and dining area to vaccinate some residents while others received the vaccine in their rooms.

“Our residents depend on us to take care of them, and we need to do whatever possible that we can do to make it safe and a good environment for them,” Wall said.

Residents and staff were screened before the vaccination.

“We’re just hoping for good things for our community, our country and we’re just hoping to make a difference,” Wall said.

“As long as I don’t grow an extra nose or ears or sprout a tail, I think we’re going to be fine with this,” Rachal, another Naomi Heights resident, said.

Everyone’s pandemic experience has been different.

“Praying to Jesus is what keeps me positive,” resident Robert Smith said.

Residents felt different about not seeing their family and the pandemic changes, but overall, they said they appreciated the Naomi Heights’ staff for taking care of them. Resident Vera Lehman said she always takes shots for serious illnesses when they are released.

“It’s alright. I haven’t had any trouble with it during the time and I’m 96-years-old,” Lehman said.

The excitement was also shared by resident Rita Trahan.

“I feel excited about it,” Trahan said. “And in one way I say I can feel like a hero, and I’m so thankful for the people that did all the research. I feel this is the best step ever taken.”

Even though staff, residents and their families have sacrificed so much, Naomi Heights is looking forward to what’s next.

“Being in here has probably been a boon and a bang,” Rachal said. “You don’t get to see your family, your friends and your children, but at the same time, you have kind of stayed away from all the contaminants that are out there. So therein lies the justification of what we’ve done here because getting the vaccination...I can’t wait to see what takes place after this because I’m hoping there’s always hope.”

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, so far, 159,698 vaccinations have been distributed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state has received 368,300 vaccines total. As of Tuesday, Jan. 12, this means that less than half of the total doses have been administered.

The Naomi Heights Director of Nursing, Alesha Robinson, said the staff has pulled together to make it through pandemic challenges.

“We have been fighting this pandemic for almost a year now,” Robinson said. “And I feel like the vaccine is the next step in stopping this and making sure we don’t continue to spread this and letting our residents have their families back in. It’s been tough. I’ve been a nurse for almost 27 years, and this is probably been one of the hardest years I’ve been through.”

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