Lawmakers Want NYC Nursing Homes to Serve as Vaccine Hubs

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FILE - In this April 17, 2020, file photo, emergency medical workers arrive at Cobble Hill Health Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York. New York state is now reporting more than 1,700 previously undisclosed deaths at nursing homes and adult care facilities as the state faces scrutiny over how it’s protected vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

By: Ilana Siyance

 

Elderly citizens are having trouble finding an appointment for the potentially life-saving Covid-19 immunization.

 

As reported by the NY Post, a  group of 27 City Council members are pushing the city to utilize senior centers as vaccination hubs for the elderly.  On Friday, the bi-partisan group of lawmakers penned a letter to Mayor de Blasio,  urging the use of the hundreds of NYC senior centers as hubs for COVID-19 inoculation.  “Senior centers are already a trusted lifeline for many elderly New Yorkers, providing them with social interaction and information,” says the letter, written by Queens Democrat Robert Holden.

 

Scores of NYC seniors, who are eligible for the shot, say they can’t find an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, and complained about the online sign up process.  “I am computer savvy, but there’s people my age that have no clue about getting online and making an appointment. All these people are being left out,” said Frank Rodgers, 71, of Staten Island.

 

Lawmakers say the nursing homes should be able to take their own appointments and administer the vaccines to local elders, rather than directing seniors to jump over multiple obstacles online or by phone.  “While many seniors do not necessarily have access to the Internet, they are in frequent contact with their local center,” the councilmembers’ letter says.  “This would allow the centers to communicate with seniors very effectively and arrange appointments for them to receive the lifesaving vaccine in a familiar, comfortable environment.”

 

Seniors seeking assistance getting an appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine can reach a group of volunteers who can help by calling 501-510-0251 or emailing  [email protected].  Tech savvy Good Samaritans can also call the number to join as a volunteer in the effort to get eldery residents appointments.

 

In the meantime, a Queens nursing home withheld the vaccine from its own rehab patients.  Councilman Holden says his 96-year-old mother was sent to Dry Harbor Nursing Home in Middle Village, some four months ago to recover from a fall. He says his mom has since tested positive there for the Coronavirus.  Some 43 other residents there also tested positive for COVID-19 since Dec. 22.  Before Christmas, the nursing facility chose to only vaccinate its long-term residents, but not patients admitted for short-term care following discharge from hospitals.

 

“It doesn’t make any sense to leave patients out. They’re just as vulnerable as permanent residents,” Holden told The Post. “It’s in the best interest of the nursing home to vaccinate everyone so there’s not a spread.”  Holden said there was no evidence that the nursing-home lacked enough doses to  vaccinate everyone at the 360-bed facility.