Residents, staff get vaccinated at Maple Pointe

Jill Nossa for LI Herald

January 20, 2021

Originally published in Long Island Herald on January 20, 2021.

After about a month of trying to secure a date for the Covid-19 vaccination, residents and staff at Maple Pointe Assisted Living in Rockville Centre were finally inoculated on Monday. A clinic was set up at the facility by CVS Pharmacy, which administered the vaccine.

“I’m overjoyed for our residents and staff,” Shari Stein, director of health services for Maple Pointe, said on Monday morning. “It’s been a long couple of months here. We lost a lot of residents and it’s been really hard on all of us. It’s good just knowing that they can get the vaccine and be able to eventually see their families again…hopefully, this means we’re moving in the right direction.”

Executive Director Tammy Marshall was the first staff member to receive the vaccine. “I’m very comfortable with getting the shot,” Marshall said. “I think technology is so far advanced. I’m not nervous at all — I’ve seen a lot of buzz and people saying, ‘no, not me,’ but I feel so comfortable with science.”

She explained that, as a nurse who has studied and “believes in” science, she has confidence the vaccine can help overcome the Covid-19 virus, and was glad to have the CVS clinic at the facility. “I’m so happy and honored that they’re here,” Marshall said. “I’m so excited that it feels like we might get back to a sense of normalcy very soon. It’s early in the year, and we’re off to a wonderful start.”

Marshall had been trying to set a date for the clinic soon after the vaccine became available last month. While she was on vacation over the holidays, she spent a lot of time on the phone trying to work out the logistics for bringing the clinic to Maple Pointe. She said she saw other assisted living facilities posting about the vaccine clinics on social media, while Maple Pointe did not yet have one scheduled. “Then I started making phone calls to different authorities – Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office, Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s office, Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran – and reached out to all of them to try to make this happen.”

Getting the government officials and the county health department involved seemed key to getting it done, and Kaminsky said his office worked hard to help make it happen.

“We had to coordinate with CVS to make sure Maple Pointe was on their radar and it was something that was scheduled,” Kaminsky said. “Vaccine rollout has really been difficult –- and that’s putting it mildly. But getting it right in assisted living facilities and nursing homes is an absolute must. That can’t get messed up. We worked with the assemblywoman’s office day and night until we got that scheduled.”

Finally, on Thursday Jan. 14, Maple Pointe was confirmed for a clinic on Monday, Jan. 18. Pharmacists and pharmacy interns set up a clinic for staff in a room on the main floor of the facility, while others went directly to the residents’ doors to administer the inoculation.

Haseeb Shah gave the shot to Marshall on Monday morning. Shah, a pharmacy intern with CVS who is in his fifth year at Long Island University’s College of Pharmacy in Brooklyn, said this was the seventh clinic he had been a part of over the past month. The clinics he has been a part of have gone to nursing homes or long-term care facilities around New York City and Long Island.

“We spend a lot of time making sure we have the sites ready to go, and then once we come on,” Shah said, “we can just give the vaccines.”

Getting the shot itself is quick — it’s the paperwork involved that takes most of the time. The clinicians spend a couple of hours going over the paperwork before giving the shots. “Typically, about a week ahead of time, someone from our end reaches out,” Shah said. “We need names and consent forms before we come.”

Prior to administering the vaccine, Shah said, students in the LIU pharmacy program attended two separate continuing education workshops to learn more about the vaccine and how to answer questions from patients.

“A lot of people are concerned because it is something new and it got expedited approval, which is not a common,” Shah said. “We want to make sure the patients feel comfortable. Having the knowledge about how the vaccine operates helps ease some of the stress that patients have.”