NEW HAVEN, Conn. – As the sun peeks through the clouds on an early spring day, Mary Wade Home resident Marilyn Degnan reflects on the previous year and the shot of hope she felt hearing that the Connecticut National Guard was headed her way with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“All I have are my two sons and five granddaughters,” said Degnan. “Just to be able to see them is going to mean the world to me.”
The Connecticut National Guard helped provide COVID-19 vaccines to nursing home residents like Degnan in support of the Connecticut Department of Public Health's “Operation Matchmaker.”
The three vaccinations administered at the Mary Wade Home April 9 supplemented an initial round of vaccinations at the facility two months earlier. Degnan and two others were not yet residents.
“I’ve been waiting and waiting, and that’s why I’m so happy [the Guard was] coming,” said Degnan.
Degnan said it has been at least eight months since she saw her family members, with one exception – her youngest granddaughter born last June, whom she hasn’t yet met.
Many vaccinated residents are now seeing their family members for the first time in a year, said Ashley Truini, licensed practical nurse at Mary Wade Home.
“It's amazing that this is finally possible for them because they needed that so badly – they’ve missed that,” Truini said. “It’s awesome that we’re getting back to a little bit of normalcy.”
Connecticut Guardsmen were thankful to be involved.
“It feels incredible. We really are a part of history,” said U.S. Army Capt. Ryan Bogner, mission logistics officer. “This new vaccine has been a real game-changer, and we’re hoping that it’s going to help end this pandemic. So to be able to be a part of it in any way I can from a logistics standpoint, it means a lot.”
Bogner also credited the work of his team of medics, who have traveled the state to provide vaccines to residents and staff at nursing homes like Mary Wade.
“They all have an incredible work ethic,” said Bogner. “They come in here and are professional and disciplined, and they come into it with a great attitude. People like to see that, and they’re really comfortable knowing that we have experienced medics on the scene that are able to provide them with their vaccine.”
As one of those medics, Spc. Andres Salgado of the 142nd Medical Company vaccinated Degnan, the resident encouraged others to get their shot and not be afraid.
“What you should be afraid of is COVID,” Degnan said. “So if this is going to help you and help other people, you should do it.”