WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Long term care facilities are working quickly to prepare for the first vaccination of their staff and residents, as the second surge continues to slam roughly one third of the state’s nursing homes.
Masonicare in Wallingford had a deadly COVID outbreak the week following Thanksgiving, but the CEO says they have quickly managed to control the spread. With a vaccine finally in sight, there is light at the end of a very long tunnel.
Masonicareis are preparing to roll out vaccinations by the end of the month.
“I was thrilled. I want to be first in line,” said Masonicare resident Charlene Rohloff, “Just to give me back part of a life that I have given up for the last nine months. I figure at my age how many more years do I possibly have left, so I’d like to spend them as freely as I can.”
Her enthusiasm is shared by CEO J.P. Venoit and his frontline staff, moving fast to prepare for vaccine rollouts.
“Our staff have done an absolutely amazing job. but they are under extreme stress knowing there’s no end in sight until a vaccine comes out,” said Venoit.
Masonicare is partnering with CVS Pharmacy to source, ship and administer the Pfizer shots once they are approved. With roughly 5,500 patients and staff, and two doses to phase in, there is a lot to plan for.
“We’re trying to be as prepared as possible to have a smooth rollout,” said Dr Ronald Schwartz, Masonicare’s VP of Medical Services.
Masonicare is already in constant communication with families, patients and staff — even the town of Wallingford itself. The nonprofit is embarking on an educational offensive.
“Explaining to families the data, the reality and the safety of this vaccine,” said Dr. Schwartz.
Officials say they plan to give frontliners and residents time to get comfortable with the research, but eventually, hope to make the vaccine mandatory similar to the flu shot.
“A similar policy will be in effect for COVID-19, but giving people a chance maybe a sixth month period of time to understand what’s happening,” said Dr. Schwartz.
Officials say they are already hearing from patients like Charlene–and families–eager to be first in line.
“The key to going back to some normalcy for our residents and family members,” said CEO Venoit.
And because it is not certain if the vaccine will roll out quickly enough to combat community spread from Christmas and holiday gatherings, Masonicare, like so many healthcare and frontline workers, is pleading with the public to do what they can to lower covid rates–because inevitably that spread lands on their doorstep.