Program seeks to educate staff at assisted living facilities about COVID-19 vaccines

The first set of presentations took place at Bethany Retirement Living on University Drive

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — A pilot program launched by NDSU aims to educate employees at assisted living facilities about the importance of getting vaccinated.

Tiffeny Hestdalen is an Infection Preventionist for Bethany Retirement Living.

As you can imagine, she’s kept busy this past year.

“It’s been definitely a whirlwind. It’s really made us rethink everything that we’re doing and how we’re doing things,” Hestdalen said.

Much of her attention now is devoted to vaccinations.

Although the numbers fluctuate depending on things like admissions, discharges, new employees coming on and others leaving, Hestdalen says nearly 99% of Bethany residents and more than 80% of staff members are vaccinated.

“For having such a large number of people who said yes we want to figure out why there’s a small amount of people that said no,” she explained.

That’s where immunization experts from NDSU step in.

Kylie Hall and Lauren Dybsand are presenting at assisted living facilities across North Dakota, beginning with Bethany Retirement Living on University Drive.

“It’s so important that we have high rates, not only among the residents of these facilities, but also the staff because they’re protecting our most vulnerable population,” Dybsand said.

Hall and Dybsand’s presentation covers topics like vaccine development, misconceptions and the importance of being vaccinated in a retirement living environment.

“I think a lot of [people working in long-term care facilities], because they were on that first round of getting the vaccine, were like ‘We’re the first to get the vaccine.’ They felt like the guinea pigs of this,” Dybsand explained.

Hestdalen and Dybsand say the main goal is to educate based on facts and evidence.

They hope the impact reaches far beyond the walls of just one facility and that what’s learned at the presentations trickles into other parts of the community.

As of Thursday, one staff member at Bethany on University has COVID-19, according to the North Dakota Department of Health.

Categories: Coronavirus, Coronavirus-ND, Health, Local News, North Dakota News