Long-term care facility hit hard by COVID-19 receives vaccine

Officials at a nursing facility in Deep East Texas dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak receive vaccine Friday.

Long-term care facility hit hard by COVID-19 receives vaccine
Hemphill Care Center is located in Hemphill, Texas. (Source: KTRE)

HEMPHILL, Texas (KTRE) - Officials at a nursing facility in Deep East Texas say they have been dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed 10 residents since Thanksgiving.

The outbreak is at the Hemphill Care Center in Sabine County. The center is home to nearly 70 residents, and all but seven have tested positive for COVID-19. Half of their 84 employees have been positive for the virus.

Friday, the facility received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I told them that I was going to meet them on the back porch with one side of my pants down and one sleeve rolled up ask them which end they wanted to get it on,” Bill Ener said. “It didn’t matter with me. I was really excited about it.”

Billy Ener was one of the 41 residents at Hemphill Care Center who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Friday.

“I told them the way I look at it is, you know the Lord gives them the knowledge enough to make the stuff, and I trust Him,” Ener said. “That’s why I was ready to take it.”

Administrator Tiffani Bradberry says 13 employees also received the vaccine administered by Walgreens as part of the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.

“I believe we could have saved lives if this had been available to us a few months ago,” Bradberry said. “But we are excited to take it today, and we’re taking it for the ones that didn’t get the opportunity and for the ones that we want to live, get through this time and get back to some normalcy.”

“It’s been bad,” Ener said. “We’ve had an outbreak and it’s winding down now. I hope nobody else gets it.”

They say their faith, hope in the vaccine, and support of the community have created a renewed sense of optimism.

“I think we’re going to be good now. I really do,” Ener said.

“We’re claiming victory today,” Bradberry said.

Bradberry says they still have about a dozen active cases, but that count is declining. She says once more people recover and are willing to take the vaccine, the next round will be administered in February.

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