It’s a day of celebration at the Shady Oaks Assisted Living Center as a light can be seen at the end of the tunnel with the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine for all residents and staff on site.
"The vaccine to me is a freedom vaccine. It means that we'll be free from this looming danger, it just won’t be as bad as what we’ve been fearful of this whole year," said Tyson Belanger, owner and director of Shady Oaks.
In an impressive feat, the assisted living center said they’ve had zero residence contact COVID-19 throughout the pandemic and that’s partially thanks to what they call the bubble.
"On March 22, 17 staff members and I moved into our home and we committed to living here for two months. We made it about 10 weeks and this kept our home safe through the surge. This bridged to a time of better testing and better equipment" said Belanger.
NBC Connecticut first told you about Shady Oaks bubble method of keeping COVID-19 out back in April - during the height of the pandemic.
Belanger said through the summer and fall months, they maintained strict guidelines and that these three items made the world of a difference.
"We think that this combination of testing KN-95 and air purifiers has really made the difference for us," said Belanger.
Belanger, who has a military background, compares the past year to combat saying, "Any day, all hell can break loose and people around you can die and you live with that throughout your whole deployment. This is what it’s like to be in the military, I just never thought I would end up experiencing again."
Faith Brouker is one of the nurses who hunkered down at the site and describes the feeling of living without her loved ones and being in close quarters with her colleagues.
"It was very scary knowing that they are out and about doing their everyday life, I’m in here being protected but they’re out there not being protected," said Brouker. "That was a work in progress every day from every single person.... we became a camaraderie for each other to keep our spirits high."
But Brouker said although the months have been tiring, she's found the strength and it's all about saving the lives of the patients.
"It’s just in you if you get into this line of work, you have a heart, you’re here to do a service for the residence family," Brouker said.