After months of pandemic restrictions, Good Samaritan Society – Ambassador recently reopened to indoor visitors — including a couple of state government VIPs.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm visited the rehabilitation and skilled nursing care center in New Hope, Minnesota, to discuss successful COVID-19 vaccination efforts in long-term care settings.

It was a rare indoor event during the coronavirus pandemic. The county’s positivity rate is less than 10%, and this location has been COVID-19-free for weeks. They held their first COVID-19 vaccination clinic Jan. 2 and will get their second doses in arms Jan. 30.

When will I get my shot? COVID-19 vaccines at Good Samaritan Society

Kim Stoltzman, director of nursing long-term care at Good Samaritan Society – Ambassador, says the residents depend on staff and the community to keep them safe.

“We were able to safely open our doors to allow indoor visitation just last week,” she says. “Visitors are screened, wear proper PPE and visit with their loved ones in a separate area of our building that has its own entrance, which allows for plenty of room to social distance. Even with masks on, you can tell our residents and their loved ones are smiling as many of them reunite in person for the first time in months.”

‘Vaccine is the answer’

Kim has worked for Good Samaritan Society for 25 years, but the past year has been like no other. She’s been fearful of the unknown, of getting sick, exposing a resident or family member.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Society has implemented rigorous infection control measures, limited visitors and followed all guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With vaccination clinics underway at Good Samaritan Society and at long-term care locations across the country, Kim says we are one step closer to closing this chapter on COVID-19.

“The vaccine is the answer,” she says. “I received my first dose of the vaccine just two weeks ago, and it was emotional. For the first time, I felt hope. I feel hope that we will get through this pandemic. I got the vaccine to protect myself, my family, my residents and my community.

“It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. I want my residents to be able to safely hug their loved ones again and visit with each other without distance between them. That physical touch is so important. That’s what this vaccine represents.”

The officials at the event urged others to continue the fight against COVID-19 by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands and getting vaccinated when you’re able.