From the Frontline: The Vaccine and Renewed Hope for 2021

Wendy, originally from North Dakota, attended the University of Minnesota where she received a BA in Psychology in 1997. She then spent 9 years managing Non-Profit Group Homes for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. It was this experience that sparked her interest in the complex issues of her Residents and led her back to school for a degree as a Registered Nurse in 2005. She returned to the Group Home setting to serve as an RN for the next 7 years. Leaving the cold behind in 2012, Wendy was Florida bound and found an Administrative Nursing position at St. Mark Village. In the fall of 2014, Wendy became the Director of Nursing and continues to strive each day to provide the best continuum of care for each Resident.


From the Frontline: The Vaccine and Renewed Hope for 2021

Happy New Year! We started 2021 with excitement about the Covid-19 vaccine, we also have a renewed hope that we can soon put the events of the past year behind us. 2020 is still fresh in our minds as we reflect on all we have been through as individuals, families, Residents, and Team Members this past year.


As the Covid-19 virus moved into our communities, there was fear of the unknown. On the frontline, concerns multiplied:

  • How will this affect us?
  • Will we be safe from this?
  • How do we protect ourselves, our families, and our 600+ Residents?
  • Will we get sick?
  • Will our Team Members want to take the risk to continue working?
  • Will everyone quit?
  • What is going to happen?


As a Life Care Community with over 600 Residents and more than 350 Team Members, we prepared the best we know how, procuring masks, gowns, gloves, shields, and more to protect our Team Members and Residents. This was an all-hands-on deck effort, as getting PPE was difficult in the beginning, though our Team was able to make it happen. Team Members from all departments and Residents learned how to prevent from contracting the virus and stop its spread. Our Team Members responded immediately and appropriately. We learned all we could, asked excellent questions, and practiced consistent and effective infection control. As a Team, we also tolerated multiple re-educations due to frequent changes regarding the most recent information and guidelines. With all of this going on, our Team continued to provide the great care St. Mark Village is known for.


One of the unanticipated consequences of the virus that our Residents began to experience was the isolation. For many months our Residents were encouraged to stay in their rooms and due to visitation restrictions in an effort to keep them safe, they were unable to see their families and friends. Again, our Team Members stepped up to the challenge to help connect Residents with their families. There were Zoom video calls scheduled, window visits facilitated, many phone calls, and several socially distanced parades where Residents could sit and see their families as they drove by holding signs of love and appreciation. Our Team Members from the nursing department who had the closest contact with Residents during this time also stepped in to fill the void with conversation, compassion, and support.


And through all the trials of 2020, our Team Members continued to show up. Things were made more difficult due to the virus, donning and doffing PPE, passing trays in rooms in place of communal dining. With these challenges, our Team was always there, at times literally risking their own lives to ensure our Residents were getting the care they deserve. We owe a debt of gratitude to each and every one of our Team Members, as we would have never made it this far without their help and commitment to our Residents. Their dedication and compassion for the Residents they love continues to be evident as we transition to the next phase of overcoming this virus, the vaccination.


We ended 2020 on a positive note and had our first COVID-19 Vaccination clinic on December 17th. We are thankful that the Centers for Disease Contact (CDC) as well as local and state officials have prioritized our community in getting our Residents the vaccine so quickly and efficiently. It was exciting to see Team Members and Residents who had been through so much get their first vaccine. It has given our Team a renewed sense of hope and excitement. We are doing the right thing, for ourselves, our community, and our country. By the beginning of March, we will have completed three vaccination clinics for both Team Members and Residents at all levels of care.


We start 2021 with continued excitement about the Covid-19 vaccine, which brings great promise that one day soon we can all put this pandemic behind us. The experiences of the last year are fresh in our hearts and minds, and we remain grateful for the resilience and positivity of our Residents and Team Members.


Witnessing Residents and Team Members literally roll up their sleeves, knowing that they were taking a brave and proactive step toward protecting themselves and our St. Mark Village family has been incredible. I feel honored to be among so many dedicated frontline workers and I do believe we are stronger as a Team because of it.


As we move toward brighter days ahead, there is still so much to learn about Covid-19. As we learn, we will continue to modify our evidenced based infection control program, continuing to practice enhanced measures to stop the spread of the virus. Importantly, even after our Team Members and Residents are fully vaccinated; mask wearing, social distancing, and other enhanced protocols won’t be going anywhere. Our society must first reach herd immunity. As a Team, we’ll continue to stay the course and take the steps necessary to limit virus transmission until health authorities advise these efforts are no longer needed.


For Covid-19 updates visit us at https://www.StMarkVillage.org/Covid19/.  For questions about the Covid-19 vaccine as related to our Care Center Residents, families may call our Care Centers directly. For our Nebraska Avenue Care Centers, please contact Randall Rees, Care Centers Administrator at: (727) 785-2577 ext. 1744 or by email at: rrees@stmarkvillage.org. For Highland Lakes Assisted Living, please contact Sheila Kynion, Administrator at: (727) 785-2580 ext. 3003 or by email at: skynion@stmarkvillage.org. For all other questions please call (727) 785-2580.




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