Havelock Manor hopes vaccine will enable families to visit in 2021
"All of a sudden, we have this glimmer of hope and we know that our residents will be reunited with their families in just a matter of months."
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Thursday, residents and staff at the Havelock Manor assisted living community received the COVID-19 vaccine. On the last day of 2020, director of operations Janine Petracek reflected on the year that was.
“Very emotional,” Petracek said. “I was very emotional March 5th when we shut our doors and we told our families, ‘Good bye.’ That we’re not going to be able to come in to do all of the things that we were so focused on doing.”
To keep its elderly residents safe from the virus, staffers had to make the difficult decision to not allow visitors into the facility. It was not easy for residents to deal with.
“When I was told, and I thought, ‘Well, it will probably last a couple of months and it will be over,'” resident Erna Johns said. “But then after I found out it was going to be so long, I was just kind of sad because I could not see my family.”
Since March, family members have only been able to visit and interact with residents through a plexiglass barrier in the back of the living community.
“Our facility is so family-focused,” Petracek said. “To be able to talk through a plexiglass, or glass or a visitor center is not the same. Being hugged and loved on by your loved ones is so different.”
Inside the building, changes were made as well. Some examples include temperature checks twice a day, mask wearing, and separated living spaces for residents.
“It has [been tough], yeah,” resident Richard Peters said. “But we understand why they are doing it. They’re not doing it to be mean. They’re doing it to protect us.”
As challenging as the year has been, Petracek says she is proud of her staff for keeping it’s 20-plus residents safe through the pandemic.
“We thought it would be a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if,'” Petracek said. “I have been truly blessed, my staff have been truly blessed not to see residents suffer from COVID, or the lasting effects from COVID. We’ve had the luxury not to be sick here.”
Now that everyone at the living facility has taken the vaccine, Petracek says that residents will be able to eat meals together by January’s end. She hopes that shortly after, they will be able to see their families as well.
“This is like, all of a sudden, we have this glimmer of hope and we know that our residents will be reunited with their families in just a matter of months,” Petracek said.