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Rochester hospice staff hopeful as they receive COVID-19 vaccine

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STCROIXHOPSICEPIC

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Staff at St. Croix Hospice in Rochester eagerly lined up Tuesday to get their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

St. Croix Hospice provides end-of-life services at nine different locations in six different states. Care workers provide services to people in assisted living, at home or in the hospital.

It can be a challenging job as staff work hard to provide comfort to patients and their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made that the job more difficult.

Staff need to wear full protective gear, which includes face masks, face shields, and gowns, gloves and booties. The protection serves as a barrier to the virus, but an unfortunate side effect is that it can create a barrier to effective communication to patients and families. Staff are hopeful the vaccine will soon change all of that, and they will be able to once again comfort their patients with a smile or a hug.

"I am looking forward to being able to be more personal with my patients," Manager of Hospice Services Betsy Bellock said. "And, my patients' families, giving them hugs, being able to smile at them. Let them see my face, not having a face shield over my face that fogs up. So I feel that kind of fogs up communication as well."

Eleven hospice employees received the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday. They will need to get their second dose in three weeks. For now, staff will continue to get tested for COVID-19 twice a week.

Bellock said the experiences of this past year have strengthened the bond between employees.

Megan Zemple

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