EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - East Brunswick Caregivers Donna Smith and Nicole Hinds were the first essential workers in line to receive the COVID-19 first round of vaccinations at the Chelsea Senior Living Home on Cranbury Road. They were prepped but still a bit nervous about getting the shots from vaccination workers sent by the CVS on Route 18 North in East Brunswick. Donna and Nicole put n their best smiles, rolled up their sleeves, and pushed on through for the Chelsea staff, most of whom have been at work throughout the pandemic, providing for the daily needs of residents with smiles, good humor, and emotional strength.
62 residents of The Chelsea were also scheduled to receive their vaccinations last Saturday, with staff and specialists visiting their rooms to provide the slim-needle shot.Patients were glad to receive the vaccinations, but they did complain of living "COVID jail" since March. In the early onset of the pandemic in March and April, six residents died from COVID-related causes, along with six other residents who passed away due to other medical reasons.
Since that time, says Cynthia Rozenberg, Executive Director of the Chelsea, there have been no new residents, no outdoor or off-site activities, and no family visits. Rozenberg says that the staff has been diligent and compassionate in the care of residents, especially during this lonely time when many feel isolated from their families.
During Assisted Living Week, a time which would usually feature family events, barbecues, and romping grandchildren around the property, The Chelsea celebrated those lost during the pandemic. A Hospice chaplain led a recitation of names of those lost to the virus, along with the names of others who had passed during the same period. Staff then placed "memory stones" in a configuration around a bench in the garden, recognizing those who had gone. The Chaplain then blessed the hands of the essential workers on staff and offered them spiritual support in their work.
Now comes the vaccine.
Maryellen Yuhas, long-time East Brunswick resident, was the first to get the shot. She has lived at The Chelsea for more than three years now. Surrounded by her many statues of the Virgin Mary and images of her family, Yuhas took it like a champ, smiling all the way through.
Selma Kaufman, also moved from East Brunswick to Monroe and then to The Chelsea, took her shot and joked about at least having company when she received it. "It's good to see some new faces," she said.
Staff members and 62 residents of The Chelsea received the first round of the Pfizer vaccine. They are scheduled for the second shot in two weeks.