OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — There was a luau-themed party Thursday inside Morningside Place, an assisted living facility in Overland Park, where residents and staff celebrated being fully vaccinated.
Dozens of smiling residents recently received the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The staff also has been inoculated.
"The shots didn’t hurt at all, couldn’t even feel them," resident Kappi Braddock said.
But they were a reason to party.
For residents at long-term care facilities, it's been a long year, trying to stay safe from a virus that is hardest on the elderly. It meant missing the little joys in life, such as riding on a bus through town.
"We just sit on the bus and look out the window," Braddock said. "It’s not stressful at all."
Not seeing family also has been difficult.
"I just miss them, I miss the terribly and I can’t wait to see them again," resident Denise Barnhart said.
The staff appreciates the peace of mind that comes with being vaccinated, knowing it lessens or eliminates the chance they could spread the virus to the residents inside the facility.
"We’ve had a weight lifted off our shoulders," Sara Coss, Morningside Place's life engagement director, said. "We got the vaccine. We can breathe now. We don’t have to worry as much about giving this to our residents and hurting them."
Morningside Place was among the Kansas City-area long-term care facilities that dealt with an outbreak during the last year.
"When we did get hit with it, we got hit hard and fast and took a lot of people, not just residents, but staff, down as well," Coss said.
For everyone at Morningside, it's one more milestone towards normality.
"We’re one of the lucky ones," Barnhart said.