Residents at Mariposa County care facility reunite with families

MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A moment of pure joy in Mariposa.

This long-awaited embrace comes now that Mae Haste is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Well, I haven't seen my mother in one year and two days, and I get to give her a hug," says Sue Distaso.

While many nursing homes across the country were hit hard by COVID-19, that was not the case for the John C. Fremont long-term care facility.

Not one resident or staff member contracted the virus.

They were also among the first in the state to receive the vaccine. Action News was there to capture that exciting moment as well.

After being locked down for the past year, the facility has now started lifting restrictions, allowing Distaso to finally greet her mother face-to-face.

Another long-term care resident, Patricia Wildt, told Action News back in January she simply wanted to kiss her husband again.

Well, she, too, got the opportunity to seize that special moment.

Distaso says these reunions are priceless after missing so much over the past several months, including her mother's 99th birthday.

"In November, none of us could come in," she said. "You know, she would cry, I would cry. It's been a long, hard year."

Officials say the pandemic has not only caused pain and suffering for the residents who are separated from relatives, but also burnout and exhaustion for many staff members.

Still, at this facility, they never stopped showing up.

"They came to work every day and provided the physical and emotional care of our residents that they needed throughout this pandemic," says Katrina Anderson. "We didn't lose anybody, not a team member, not a resident and they're amazing. They're the true healthcare heroes throughout this pandemic."

Twenty percent of the population in Mariposa County has now received a first dose of the vaccine, with more than 2,000 individuals fully vaccinated.

Still -- Anderson says everyone must stay vigilant.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel, now we're seeing it with the visitation opening up," Anderson said. "We're seeing it with the quarantines being less restrictive, there's hope. We just got to make it through and keep pushing."
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