INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — On Friday, Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center vaccinated 98% of the residents living at the Fountains at Green Briar independent living facility.
Billie Betts and Peggy Burrus are two sisters living at the facility who received a vaccine.
"Well, thank you for this opportunity, I never get to talk, she always does it for me,” Betts said as she laughed and pushed her sister. Burrus followed-up with "That's alright!"
The sisters have been facing the pandemic as a pair, even when they couldn’t always physically be together.
“We’re in a facility that was shut up for a long time, where we were not able to even come out of our rooms, so it's a whole new life,” Betts said. “We're looking forward to tomorrow."
First went Betts, then Burrus, getting their first doses of the Moderna vaccine.
This was a move that didn’t come easy for Fountains at Green Briar because it's in an independent facility not licensed by the state.
"We found out that independent living didn't really fit in a category, so when we found out we weren't going to get a clinic here we were like no we wouldn't settle for that,” Terri Bowlin, Executive Director of The Fountains at Greenbriar, said. "If you could've felt the heaviness that we all just - it was almost like a death it was so sad.”
Instead of harping on what they couldn’t control, the staff focused on what they could.
Staff signed up every resident on as many as seven sites each, some as far as Sedalia and Warrensburg, with the hopes of getting them all vaccinated.
"I thought we might have to sign up on every site that there was it really had us worried for a while,” Burrus said.
"So when Samuel U Rodgers Center called us and said we'd like to set up a clinic we were - I mean we just all started to cry because it was like man, this is huge,” Bowlin said.
She added that as of Friday, more than 130 residents received their first dose of the vaccine. This is about 98% of the facility.
For resident Charline Clark, it was about time. “I am 91 years old and I plan to live to be 100 so therefore I thought I had to have the vaccination because I have COPD and if I got Covid - I'd be a goner real soon,” Clark said.
Betts was frustrated at times with the process of signing up on all the websites.
“That got to be a concern, but this place took care of that," Betts said.
All of this wasn't possible without a relentless effort to not give up and a community that stepped up when the need rose.
"I think the most important this is, if we don't have hope, what do we have? and sometimes you have to be pumping yourself up with hope so you can help give somebody else hope,” Bowlin said.
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