On March 11, Hebrew Home staff gathered in Riverdale New York: the coronovirus had arrived.
“We’re on our own,” said President and CEO Daniel Reynold, who immediately began securing PPE for its 1,200 staff members and as much Clorox as possible.
Without testing and proper PPE, nationwide long-term care centers were largely left to themselves, especially in the early days, and the virus subsequently isolated residents. These facilities have killed more than 110,000 people, accounting for about 39% of the total COVID-19 deaths in the US
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But help will arrive on Monday. As part of a federal-private partnership, thousands of Walgren and CVS pharmacists will deploy approximately 55,000 nursing homes to launch a historic effort to provide nationwide assistance to 4.5 million residents and staff.
In fact, Valgrens began vaccinations at long-term care centers in Ohio and Connecticut on Friday.
Members of the Walgreens pharmacy team will provide COVID-19 vaccinations on December 12 at approximately 800 long-term care facilities in 12 states throughout the week.
Vaccinations will arrive in pharmacies, then the team will deliver them to facilities to administer. This process would need to be completed twice at each center, as both Pfizer and modern vaccines require two doses. Walgreens is confident it is up to the logical challenge.
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“We alone have 27,000 pharmacists who are raising their hands saying that I am ready to offer the vaccine right now,” said Reena Shah, vice president of pharmacy operations and services. “We still need more vaccines so that we can continue to vaccinate as many people as we can to help our communities.”“
Walgreens will arrive at New York’s largest nonprofit care center, Hebrew Home, on Monday to begin vaccinating its 600 residents and 1,200 employees.
“We’re going to start with our residents who suffer from dementia because those residents are least able to follow social disturbances, masking and hand washing,” Reynold said.
They expect Walgren pharmacists to go to the room for residents, but staff will be vaccinated in a centralized location. Vaccination for employees will take place in three waves, ensuring that only one third of employees are vaccinated at a time.
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“That way we can monitor the side effects to make sure everyone is safe,” Reingold explained, “so that we don’t run the risk of people getting ill for any reason because we have to be here by our frontline workers Is required.”
The Hebrew Home has lost 54 inhabitants in COVID-19.
85-year-old Harriet Krakowski remembers that she lost both of her neighbors. “I lost two people on either side of me,” she said. “It was a scary, terrible day.”
Although she admits that she is a little nervous, she said she is ready to vaccinate so that the isolation can end.
“I became a great grandmother twice this year,” Krakowski said. “I haven’t seen babies yet, which is hurting my heart. It really is.”
In the Hebrew Home, by now all the residents have decided to receive the vaccine. The bulk of the questions are about whether they will have a reaction to the vaccine. However, there is more apprehension among employees.
“There are mixed feelings at some place, yes,” Ellen Dunion, a nurse who works in the Hebrew home for 30 years. “Me personally, I believe I have had vaccines all my life.”
Dunion became infected with COVID-19 while caring for its residents, five of whom died of the virus. She believes that vaccinations are important for frontline workers to set an example.
“They know us and trust us as their family, and if we are getting them to help them, they will feel more confident,” she said.
The American Health Care Association, which represents long-term care facilities nationwide, has set a goal to have everyone vaccinated by March 1.
Dr. David Gifford stated, “We are seeing about 2,000 deaths a week from nursing home residents, so every week we are waiting for what is going to be truly devastating. Medical Director at AHCA.
No one in the Hebrew Home has been sick since June with COVID-19. But it has been 10 months.
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“When I see one of my residents hugging his family for the first time, nothing good will happen to us,” said Emotional Reingold.
“We’re thumbing up, hitting a lot of elbows, but we really missed the opportunity to hug each other and our staff has been just phenomenal.”