By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – A Colorado-based company managing senior living communities across the state says it is mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for its residents and staff, except for medical or religious reasons. Solera Senior Living says this policy keeps with the approach they’ve taken since the start of the pandemic to stay extra cautious when it comes to safety.

(credit: Solera Senior Living)

“More so than anything, protecting our residents and our team members takes precedent,” said Jamie Ranzan, the President of Solera Senior Living. It’s really important, and we owe it to our families and our residents to protect them as best as we can and the vaccine is the best way to protect them.”

The group of locations in Colorado have already administered the vaccine to 85% of its residents and staff with the help of Walgreen’s. They are still working on future dates to get the rest of their communities vaccinated in the next couple months.

“Here in Colorado, the residents have all been very receptive, the families have,” she told CBS4 on Monday. “I’d say the majority of the team members are on board and understand the position that we’ve taken.”

Ranzan says there seems to be more acceptance in this state than from families in communities outside of Colorado, but they hope to work with anyone concerned about the vaccine.

(credit: CBS)

“It’s our best defense. It’s the best way we can protect one another and get back to normal, have families be allowed to come back into the communities and see their loved ones,” she said on a video conference call. “Be able to hug our parents and grandparents again.”

Solera has always taken an approach that may not be common in its industry, but it believes is necessary for its communities. Ranzan says they stopped allowing visitors and hosting tours before others and stepped up their cleaning process before it was required of them.

“We took a very conservative position, it’s much easier to turn things back,” she said. “As a result, I do think we truly did save lives with that position with begin so proactive and being ahead of the protocols.”

If a resident does not want to take the vaccine and does not have a qualifying exemption, staff will work with the resident and their family on the issue. Ranzan says further education on the benefits and safety of the vaccine could change the minds of any concerned residents and get them to take the vaccine. She also says they’re working on getting visitors back to their communities as they continue vaccinations.

“To get the families back in to see the residents whether it’s outdoors only, whatever we can do, we’re going to do,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

As for staff, without an exemption, they will not be able to keep working for the company if they decline the vaccination. The company knows how much their employees have already done to keep their communities safe and hope that the vaccine will help them return to their previous routines at work and home.

“The vaccine gives our frontline workers a chance at getting their normal lives back,” Ranzan said. “The sacrifices they’ve all been taking to care for our seniors and our residents, it’s just unfathomable.”

LINK: Solera Senior Living

Shawn Chitnis