Residents and staff at Medicalodges Neosho receive COVID-19 vaccines

79 residents and staff vaccinated at the long term care facility.

NEOSHO, Mo. – “Several of them looked at me and said, ‘this is the first step.’ And I looked at them and said it is. This is our first step in trying to getting your families back,” says Stephanie Jones, Administrator at Medicalodges in Neosho.

It was an emotional and exciting day on Wednesday (December 30th) for everyone at Medicalodges in Neosho as they took the first step toward getting back to normal.

“Almost all of our residents took the vaccine,” says Jones. “We were overwhelmed by how few said no. They all want their families back.”

Altogether, 79 residents and staff members were given their first doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccines – administered by Walgreens.

One of them was office manager Donja Woodcock.

“It feels really good. I’m excited,” explains Woodcock. “I’m hoping that more and more people will do this and it’s good for our residents and it’s good for us.”

They say it’s hard to express just how big of a deal it is because over the last nine months they’ve made a lot of sacrifices to make sure staff and residents are safe and healthy.

The entire facility has been on lockdown since March, with limited visits and extra cleaning.

Safety was also ramped up right before Christmas with staff wearing tight N95 masks, full gowns, goggles, and gloves all day every day to prevent potential exposure.

But administrator Stephanie Jones says one of the hardest things has been watching residents and families struggle to stay connected… when they can’t even be close to each other.

“Those window visits can be kinda brutal sometimes. You watch the same family members come to the window every single day. Rain, snow.. It doesn’t matter. They come to the windows,” says Jones. “We’ve been doing some in building visits. And those can be equally painful because they’re so close, and yet they still don’t get to touch.”

“It’s been tough seeing that for the last nine months. But we’re diligently trying to do everything we can to keep them safe,” adds Woodcock.

They’re efforts have paid off since not a single resident has tested positive for the virus.

But everyone is ready to get their second doses – so residents can finally hug, kiss, and hold hands with their families again.

“Our goal is to get those families back in our building and get them hugin and lovin on their loved ones.”

The facility’s second vaccine clinic is scheduled for a few weeks from now in January.

That’s when the majority of residents will get their second doses, and several more staff will receive their first doses.