Why some senior living communities are struggling to get COVID-19 vaccines for their residents


  • Residents at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina, Tom Rathman, left, Matthew Richardson, and Gene Trinaystich, right, wait to get their COVID-19 inoculations from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Peggy Weickert gets her COVID-19 inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Healtat the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

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  • Nurse Breanna Silveira holds Dorothy Vetting’s hand as she receives her COVID-19 inoculations from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Epafanio Felix gives a thumbs-up after receiving his COVID-19 inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • John Humphrey receives his COVID-19 inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Epafanio Felix gives a thumbs-up after receiving his COVID-19 inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Nurse Breanna Silveira holds Dorothy Vetting’s hand as she receives her inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Peggy Weickert gets her COVID-19 inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Kimberley Humphrey looks on as her husband John receives his inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Joan Youmans gets her COVID-19 inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Dee Rathman accompanies her husband Tom to get his COVID-19 inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Howard Navaraez watches as his mother-in-law, Cruz Hernandez, receives her coronavirus inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Dee Rathman accompanies her husband Tom to get his inoculation from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health at the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Residents of the Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina wait to get their COVID-19 inoculations from a vaccination team coordinated by the L.A. County Department of Public Health on Sunday, February 21, 2021. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

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General Manager Sachiko “Koko” Woods struggled for weeks to get the COVID-19 vaccine for dozens of mostly elderly residents living in her San Gabriel Valley retirement community.

While some residents at Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community in West Covina were taken by family members to vaccination sites, the vast majority don’t drive and had no way to get vaccinated on their own, she said. After “screaming and yelling” for weeks — and after losing two residents to COVID-19 this year — a mobile team coordinated by L.A. County’s Department of Public Health arrived Sunday, Feb. 21, to offer residents their first Moderna vaccine dose.

“One thousand pounds have been lifted off my shoulders,” Woods said by phone Sunday after 53 of her residents and six employees were vaccinated by Curative Inc.  “It was great. Everyone was excited.”

Bridgecreek is an independent living and unlicensed retirement community, and thus was not eligible for the first COVID vaccines offered to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care sites granted the highest vaccination priority by the state. Some independent senior communities during this pandemic have fallen through the cracks, forced to reach out to hospitals, pharmacies and county public health officials on their own in an effort to get the life-saving vaccines for their elderly and vulnerable residents.

Two of Bridgecreek’s sister communities, Valencia Commons in Rancho Cucamonga, and Rancho Village in Palmdale, are still waiting for their residents to be vaccinated, Woods said.

“I need to help them now,” she said, adding that some of her sister communities in other counties have been able to get their residents vaccinated.

When asked last week about the Bridgecreek retirement community,  L.A. County’s public health director Barbara Ferrer, said they have “dozens and dozens of requests from independent living sites” for vaccinations.

The county started rolling out mobile vaccination teams for the first time last week — the city of Los Angeles also has its own — “and we are in fact targeting independent living sites, especially in the hardest hit communities,” Ferrer said during a Tuesday news conference.

“These are exactly the sites that I think our mobile teams are meant to be in service of but there are lots of them,” she said, adding someone from the department would be in touch with the community to see what could be done.

Unfortunately, residents of independent senior communities weren’t afforded the highest vaccination priority, said Fred Buzo, associate state director of AARP California.

“We’ve been trying to advocate for prioritization of people 65 and older regardless of where they live, realizing some aren’t going to be able to drive themselves or take public transit,” Buzo said. “We’ve been asking the state to really figure out ways to get the vaccine to people understanding that mobility is a problem for a lot of older adults.”

The state of California largely followed national guidelines on vaccination priorities, which is why independent living retirement communities were not included in the highest priority tier, Buzo said. But “now it’s really up to the counties” to determine how they will vaccinate older adults who have fallen through the cracks.

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“I am aware in some counties where they’re just doing a better job at it,” he said. “They are going out to locations to provide the vaccine but again, it’s really a checkerboard right now.”

AARP California has been asking the state to provide “some sort of consistency” to avoid situations like the one that Bridgecreek was facing, he said.Meanwhile, while the number of people getting vaccinated every day is growing, vaccine supply is currently still a challenge in California, he said. State officials, however, have said that they expect that to turn around in the future.

A representative from California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office could not immediately be reached Sunday.

When Bridgecreek’s Woods kept hitting obstacles, she turned to West Covina Councilman Tony Wu for his help. Wu, who had befriended many of the residents and staff at Bridgecreek,  then contacted Dr. P. Basil Bassantachart, a volunteer medical consultant for the city, who reached out to local hospitals in an effort to get the vaccine.

Wu expressed relief when he learned Saturday that the county had arranged a mobile team to vaccinate the residents at Bridgecreek.

“Squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Wu said in a text message, adding that “it’s really late but better than never.”

Wu, however, said he regrets that he “can’t save Nancy Fox.”

Nancy Fox

After avoiding COVID infections all last year, a dozen Bridgecreek residents became infected with the virus within one week in January, Woods said. Two infected residents, including 89-year-old Fox, who Woods described as her healthiest resident, died on Jan. 22.

“Nancy was the poster child for my building…She pretty much was the cheerleader, the most active, the most vocal,” Woods said, adding that Fox had a personal connection with Wu and called him when the community needed help with something. “She was the one person you never would have thought something like this would happen to.”

The pain she felt after losing Fox — and later another resident — pushed her to fight hard for her residents, the manager said.

“It wasn’t easy,” Woods said. “I think if I wouldn’t have reached out to Tony Wu, if I didn’t write that email with Nancy’s picture on it (and send it to city and county officials),  if I wouldn’t have just kept yelling, I wouldn’t have been a priority.”


Tags: Health, Business, News, Education, California, Government, Los Angeles, Sport, Fox, Soccer, Community, John, Nancy, Woods, Gavin Newsom, Southern California, State, Tom, Ferrer, Wu, Garcetti, San Gabriel Valley, Palmdale, West Covina, RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Matthew Richardson, Barbara Ferrer, Sachiko, Tony Wu, Nancy Fox, John Humphrey, Top Stories LADN, Top Stories IVDB, Top Stories Breeze, Top Stories LBPT, Top Stories WDN, Top Stories SGVT, Top Stories PSN, Axel Koester, L A County Department of Public Health, AARP California, Related Articles Newsom, Coronavirus, Coronavirus Vaccine, Curative Inc, Tom Rathman, Bridgecreek Holiday Retirement Community, Gene Trinaystich, Peggy Weickert, Breanna Silveira, Dorothy Vetting, Epafanio Felix, Bridgecreek Retirement Community, Kimberley Humphrey, Joan Youmans, Dee Rathman, Howard Navaraez, Cruz Hernandez, L A County 's Department of Public Health, Bridgecreek, Valencia Commons, Rancho Village, Fred Buzo, Buzo, Riverside County Disneyland

Source:  https://www.dailynews.com/2021/02/21/why-some-independent-senior-communities-are-struggling-to-get-covid-vaccines-for-their-residents/



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