Vaccinations begin at nursing homes with hope to soon reunite residents and loved ones

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – It’s a huge day for nursing homes across Rhode Island as the vaccine begins shipping out, bringing hope to so many who have waited so long.

The Department of Health says roughly 1,500 doses will be administered in nursing homes Monday and that number will continue to grow throughout the week.

Berkshire Place is one of five nursing homes to get the vaccine Monday morning. The facility received 240 doses, which means about half of the residents and staff will have the first shot within the week.

“CVS had a team of representatives come in and they’re going to inoculate half the staff today and then half another day and then follow up with a second shot,” Kenneth Rotella, Administrator at Berkshire Place Nursing Home said.

Rotella says it’s been a rough year for residents and staff. Back in the spring, the facility saw a major outbreak of the virus where nearly 100% perfect of residents tested positive including several staff members. Only 5 residents out of 163 did not contract the virus. Now, he says there hasn’t been a single case since July.

“To see all the suffering this building has gone through, it’s a great relief to get this done and we’re just hoping that everyone is healthy and safe going forward,” Rotella said.

Staff member Courtney Poirier received the first dose at the facility. That moment marked the light at the end of the tunnel, bringing relief to those inside and their loved ones on the outside.

“It helps both physically and mentally for residents and their family members and that’s one of the best things that has happened as a result of the vaccine,” Rotella said.

According to Rotella, 75% of residents have agreed to get vaccinated, but they’re still working on getting in touch with some family members and expect that to near 100%. He also says 50% of staff members have agreed, but they’re hoping to convince more.

Once residents get both shots, Berkshire Place hopes to ease restrictions and reunite loved ones.

“We’re waiting for guidance from the State and Health Department on when we can have visitors and people come back to see their relatives,” Rotella said.

Berkshire Place, like many others, has been at level 3 for months, which means no visitors at all. Starting Monday, they moved to level 2, which means family can schedule appointments to visit.

According to the Department of Health, the vaccine will be delivered to the hard-hit communities first, with the goal of getting all first doses administered within three weeks. The roll-out process will go as follows:

Monday: 5 nursing homes

Tuesday: 6 nursing homes

Wednesday: 5 nursing homes

Thursday (New Years Eve): 1 nursing home

There will be no vaccinations on New Years Day. The vaccinations will pick back up again on Saturday.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island