Published in the Orange County Register
Written by: Lous Ponsi
Photo by: Mindy Schauer
Published on: February 1, 2021, at 4:44 pm

With the coronavirus disrupting most aspects of their everyday life for nearly a year, the residents of the Morningside senior living community in Fullerton are more than a little eager to regain a sense of normalcy. They entered the week one shot-in-the-arm away from doing exactly that.

After receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks ago, Morningside residents on Monday began receiving their second and final dose.

With CVS Pharmacy supplying the vaccines, the roughly 400 residents and 300 staff members of the community are expected to be fully vaccinated by midweek.

“We are more than ready to get it behind us and move forward,” Morningside marketing director Liz Nelson said. “A lot of people are looking forward to getting back to the social aspect of the community.”

That getting back to normal will probably start happening mid-month and into March as immunity builds up in residents and staff members and communal spaces can begin to reopen and some activities resume.

“After we wait the two weeks to get up to the 95% immunity, that is when I’m looking forward to opening up …. and start moving toward that direction,” said Richard Nordsiek, Morningside’s executive director. “And the residents understand that and they think it is a good plan too, just to make sure everyone is safe.”

Since March, residents have had meals delivered to their apartments, where they eat alone or with their spouses.

“It will be nice to sit and have a nice dinner with people,” Joy Jones, 85, said.

Ted Jones, 90, Joy’s husband for 63 years, said the dining room is where he gets to learn more about his neighbors.

“Getting to know all these people from different backgrounds,” he said. “Dinner is an event, rather than just going to eat.”

Since all this started, Sally Friesen, 78, has had to be satisfied with drive-by visits from her children. She’s looking forward, she said, to “hugging them and kissing them, all the things that families do that love each other.”

In-home visits by family and friends ceased completely; a distanced visit in the courtyard was an option.

Patsy Zima, 86, is also looking forward to more human contact. “I miss the touching,” said Zima, a Fullerton resident since the fourth grade. “People need people and we need to touch each other. That is part of life. You can pet your dog, but you need people to hug. I miss my family.”

Throughout the pandemic, the Morningside staff has found some creative ways to hold classes and activities, Nordsiek said.

They have been taking place online or on television, through Morningside’s in-house channels, he said. And entertainment has been staged in the community courtyard, where residents could watch from their balconies.

But even when in-person classes and activities resume, Nordsiek anticipates paring them down to smaller-sized groups.

Reservations, hand sanitizers, and temperature checks will be the new normal, he said. “We know things aren’t going to change overnight.”

Second shots have residents of a senior community planning to be social