Written by Eric Kearsely, Willow Street. This piece was first published here, the LancasterSpeaksUp.com blog, on February 11, 2021 with permission from the author. It has been submitted to LancasterOnline/LNP for consideration as a Letter to the Editor.
NOTE: Update from the author added on February 16, 2021.
Vaccines are being distributed throughout the county by relying on private institutions such as hospitals, pharmacies, and retirement communities, all institutions one would think were committed to the well-being of the public.
Unfortunately, as we learned in Sunday’s LNP, some of these same institutions have chosen to vaccinate their own employees, regardless of the type of work they perform, rather than working to ensure that the most vulnerable receive the vaccine at the earliest possible time. It was shocking to learn that all three hospitals in this county have provided the vaccine to “their employees, including those working remotely.” The owner of a local pharmacy is even planning to hold a “friends and family vaccination event” while presumably turning away needy individuals.
On Thursday, January 28, Willow Valley Communities (2400 residents, 1400 employees) announced that they had made the vaccine available to its employees, not just those who provide support in their healthcare buildings. This action bypasses residents in independent living, many of whom are well over 75 years of age with many chronic illnesses qualifying them as the most vulnerable. I hope the LNP will investigate and report those institutions that have so flagrantly failed us in this way.
Update: Shortly after this letter was shared with Willow Valley executives, they repeated their policy that all 1400 Team Members, regardless of the jobs they hold (e.g., marketing, management, etc.) were considered healthcare workers and were considered to be immediately eligible for the vaccine. However, for the first time, they began to offer the vaccine to a large group of independent living residents. They also announced their goal of completing the first round of vaccinations for the rest of Willow Valley residents by February 19.
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