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Long-term care facilities hopeful for a return to normalcy as more COVID vaccinations are administered

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Over the last year, COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented times. With vaccinations being administered, many people are seeing a little hope, even those living and working in long-term care facilities.

“Literally a couple of days before it was put in place, long-term care facilities began shutting down, closing up, trying to protect their population,” North Dakota Long Term Care Association President, Shelly Peterson said.

Of the 218 long-term care facilities across the state, over 9,000 COVID cases were reported among residents and staff, and more than 800 deaths.

Peterson says it was a dark year, to say the least.

“Those deaths have been really really hard. It’s been really unfortunate,” Peterson said.

But she says the days have since turned brighter.

“Today we only have 82. Statewide we only have 82 residents and/or staff that have COVID-19,” she said.

Peterson says she believes the cases could continue to drop with continued practices of CDC and state recommended guidelines, as well as continued participation to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

“We’re seeing as high as 100% of all residents within the facilities want the vaccine or got the vaccine,” she said.

Although those numbers don’t reflect employee participation, she says they’re still moving in the right direction.

“At the beginning it was following kind of what North Dakota was, about 50% of the people said they might get the vaccine, but we’re seeing that increase,” Peterson said.

That increase has reached an average of about 65%.

Peterson says there’s only one way to continue to boost and maintain high percentages.

“Our motto has been educate, educate, educate. Let residents and staff know what the benefits are and what we will see from it,” she said.

Minot Trinity Homes resident Marianne Wyatt and nurse Briana Clemens both opted to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and now they hope others might do the same.

“Some of the people who live here have lost their spouses and again it’s very, very hard. This is not a joking matter. Take it seriously and get the shots,” Wyatt said.

“I think we as a nation are ready to move on past this,” Clemens said.

Peterson says at least half of the long-term care facilities have begun allowing some sort of visitation for its residents as well.

Peterson adds that there is still no set timeline as to when things will be completely back to normal within long-term care facilities.

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