In the summer of 2021, the Knollwood community reported it had become a herd immunity community against the COVID-19 virus. It was no small feat to achieve this significant COVID-19 milestone, which is defined as, “enough people in the population have been vaccinated against the disease and have developed protective antibodies against future infection.”

“We are exceptionally proud of our community because early on we had a very high adoption rate among our 600 residents, staff and even vendors,” said Margo Buda, Clinic Nurse Manager and Lab Manager. “We knew this achievement was possible because our community culture is one which thinks and acts beyond oneself.”

Knollwood was among the first senior living communities in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. to receive COVID vaccines in January of 2021. The initial adoption rate kept growing through six different vaccine clinic events for residents, staff, Waiting List members, and contractors, such as fitness and art instructors. As the months passed, the number of vaccinations continued to tick upward, and by late summer, herd immunity was achieved—with more than 95%  of the population fully vaccinated.

According to the Mayo Clinic, using the concept of herd immunity, vaccines have successfully controlled contagious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, rubella, and many others.

After the virus first took hold in the eastern U.S. in March of 2020, Knollwood banded together to comply with CDC guidance and follow all the necessary internal safety protocols to keep the senior living community’s residents, staff, and contractors health as protected as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to resident and Advisory Neighborhood Commission representative John Higgins, “It was a selfless effort with significant personal sacrifices made by everyone. Isolating, quarantining, adhering to regular COVID testing, reducing in-person and off-campus visits, finding engaging activities at home, all became the norm for residents.”

Staff surged by quietly taking on exceptionally long, physically and mentally exhausting workdays and some faced 7-day workweeks. They also flexed and took on additional daily responsibilities, such as delivering newspapers and grocery orders to resident doorsteps. All dining was free to discourage the need for grocery shopping. Traditional health and wellness programs were adapted to virtual platforms to sustain resident engagement.

“The community was also kept abreast of the latest happenings with regular update meetings and weekly detailed written communications from leadership for residents and family members,” according to Nancy Roderer, Knollwood Resident Association president. “The residents really appreciated all the responsiveness and precautions taken at Knollwood during this time of flux.”

The commitment of caring about one another is simply part of the Knollwood culture. “It is innate to who we are as Americans. We have served and sacrificed on behalf of each other and America and act in the best interest of the greater good at Knollwood,” added Priscilla Cunningham. “This is a special place with truly special people. I’m so glad to call it my home.”