CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Larry Scoville is ready to see his family again.
“We haven’t seen the children or grandchildren in over a year and we miss them,” Scoville said. “We have a little cottage that we normally go to in the summer and we couldn’t go [this year].”
Scoville lives in the Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community and got his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. He says there was never any doubt in his mind about getting the shot.
“I look forward to taking the next step in getting through this,” Scoville said adding a message to people concerned about getting vaccinated. “Please, please get the shot. The people here are wonderful and we have been incredibly well taken care of but there’s family, friends and other places to go see. And the quicker people do this, the sooner we are going to be able to do that.”
While many around the country are lamenting the speed at which the various COVID-19 vaccines are finding their way into arms, some long-term care facilities have no complaints at all. On Tuesday, the Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community received its second shipment of the Moderna vaccine, putting them on pace to have all of their 900 employees and residents fully vaccinated in the near future.
“We are hoping in the next couple of weeks,” said Sarah Tipton, president and CEO of Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community. “We really see vaccinating people as the beginning of the end chapter.”
Tipton says they were contacted late in December about receiving the vaccine from their partners, CVS Pharmacy. They jumped at the opportunity and the first 200 doses were administered Dec. 29.
On Tuesday, they received 400 more doses.
“We have tried really hard to stay very much in communication with CVS to keep ourselves in the loop. . . and to make sure that when they are here, we had our people lined up, ready to go,” Tipton said. “I think we have been able to move a lot through because of those things.”
Bishop Gadsden planning efforts included a public education campaign to reassure staff and residents that the vaccine is not only safe, but necessary.
“Very early on when we knew that we were going to get the Moderna vaccine we started to gather as much information as possible and we sent that out to our team and our community,” said Aaron Roop, vice president of operations. “And then we made sure there was good two-way communications. When we would send out some information, we would find out where the hesitation was and then we could send another round of communication with the science. It gave our community members that sense of confidence they needed.”
Most of the people living and working in this community did not need much convincing. Reporting data from the Department of Health and Environmental Control shows Bishop Gadsden had 38 positive case of COVID-19 with three deaths among staff and residents.
“I am looking forward to spreading the word, especially to my employees to let them know there’s nothing to be afraid of,” said Johnette Forrest who works as a service manager. “We are still going to follow all of the precautionary measure but still get vaccinated. . . and then they can spread the work to their family members that getting vaccinated is not such a bad thing.”
Of course, the vaccine does not just protect the seniors in this community, it also protects the community at large.
“I have family members that have health issues. I don’t want to spread it to them or vice versa,” said Shane McCoy who works in housekeeping. “I love what I do. Going into their homes with a happy face and making them smile and I don’t want to see them get ill either.”
As for Scoville, he is already counting down the days until he can return to the cottage in Canada where he can celebrate his 60th anniversary with his wife and family – an anniversary they were supposed to celebrate in 2020.