My Personal Vaccine Story
By Paula Diehl, ASC Chief HR Officer
Welcome Paula Diehl, American Senior Communities new Chief Human Resource Officer! Like many, Paula is very scared of shot and needles. However, she understands the importance of getting vaccinated to protect our residents. We thank you, Paula, for graciously sharing your personal story below regarding your experience surrounding the COVID-19 Vaccine.
I get it, trust me! I hate getting shots. I HATE needles. I get anxious, tense up, feel faint. I cannot have blood drawn until I check the phlebotomist’s credentials and do a lot of self-talk. Do not even think about putting me on an IV to wake up after surgery with liquid being pumped into my veins.
I also have allergic reactions to medicines and vaccines. When talk of Covid vaccination began, I stood firmly that I would not get the vaccine, for fear of needles and worry over the vaccine putting me into anaphylactic shock. What if years from now, I grow a third ear? (We’ve all seen those joking memes.)
But then I remembered this sweet angel…my Mom. To many, she is Momma Shirley!
86 years young, Momma Shirley contracted COVID right before the holidays. It sent me reeling. Why this? After several years of declining health, falling, fracturing her spine, a relocation to Indiana to be near me, followed by an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis, now COVID.
During COVID, I made the best decision and moved my mom from another senior community to Allisonville Meadows AL Memory Care. Like many long-term care communities, her Memory Care neighborhood went on lock down and there was no holiday party or visitation allowed. I spent Christmas praying Mom would survive and feeling guilty that I could not love on her over the holidays. It was then that I vowed I would get the vaccine if it meant keeping her safe in the future and that it would allow me to see and hug her without worry. In the end my mom was lucky, though not seeing her family and being isolated for so long took a toll on her, she remained symptom-free and survived COVID.
All of this happened well before I became ASC’s new Chief HR Officer.
Fast forward to now! It goes without saying that in my official role with ASC, I have a heartfelt but professional obligation to encourage every employee to get vaccinated. It is the right thing to do to keep residents, staff, and your families safe, as well as to reduce the spread of COVID. The more people who are vaccinated, the better our chance of shutting down COVID all together in the future. In addition, for those who do come down with this terrible virus one day, the vaccine can lessen symptoms, leading to faster recovery!
Briefly, I am taking off my Chief HR Officer hat and speaking as Momma Shirley’s baby. This woman is the most priceless thing in my life and worth protecting. She cannot always remember to wear her mask. She wants to hug her caregivers and sees them as family. She does not understand social distancing or the written rules we have in place to keep her (and her caregivers) safe.
How many other Momma Shirley’s do we all interact with each day in our buildings? They are so vulnerable and unable to protect themselves. Let’s remember that Allisonville Meadows AL is not simply a building to my mom, it is her home, the place I chose for her to live out her remaining days. It is her place of comfort, safety, love and familiarity and the people there are all her family; her comforters, her protectors and her lifeline, just as you all are to the residents in your buildings.
With my CHRO hat back on…I thank you for your dedication, love, compassion and determination to keep loving, caring and giving of yourself daily. Regardless of what your role is at ASC, you impact each and every resident we care for. You have made sacrifices over this past year, both professionally and personally, some more than others. I am sure you are COVID weary, I know I am, but this is what it’s all about, keeping our residents safe and feeling loved, every day. Thank you to the Healthcare Heroes who take care of Momma Shirley when I can’t be there every day!
As Momma Shirley’s Baby, I have just one request: Please dig down deep to overcome any fears, worries, and concerns you may have and GET VACCINATED. Protect not just yourself and your family, but all of our residents like my mom; those who are counting on us to keep them safe, those whose families have entrusted them with our care. We owe it to each of them to overcome our fears. I know my mom is worth it, wouldn’t your mom be?