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PARIS, Tenn. (December 28) – Henry County Medical Center (HCMC) received its much-anticipated first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning, December 23 and by 1 p.m. the healthcare facility began the process of vaccinating frontline healthcare providers.
At 10:30 a.m., Pharmacy Director Paula Bell unboxed 600 doses of the vaccine, which were produced by the Massachusetts biotechnology company Moderna. Approximately two hours later, Bell was transporting the vaccine down to the terrace level of the hospital where an injection clinic has been set up. After the vaccine is injected, the patient moves to an adjacent room to relax for 15 minutes to ensure there are no adverse effects.
HCMC Chief Executive Officer Lisa Casteel said that the hospital is following guidelines set forth by the Tennessee Department of Health, which states that healthcare workers at HCMC and providers from the community who have direct patient interaction will receive the first doses of the vaccine.
“We’re unsure when the vaccine will be available for broad, community distribution, though we are thoughtfully planning and working closely with state health authorities to ensure we are ready as soon as such availability is realized,” said Casteel. “We are committed to ensuring the residents of our community have access to this lifesaving vaccine.”
Casteel stressed that the arrival of the vaccine to the community is a turning point in the fight against COVID-19, but it is not time to become complacent, especially as cases in the facility and community continue to rise and resources are being stressed.
“We continue observing safety protocols such as wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and practicing social distancing,” she said. “We will provide more updates as details become available about COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Henry County.”
During the first two days of distribution, over 250 doses were distributed to partners and providers. HCMC has also received word that a shipment of approximately 900 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines is being distributed to the facility.
“We continue to vaccinate and move through our phased vaccination process,” said Bell. “With the arrival of additional vaccine, we will begin to reach out to the community to provide vaccinations based on this process. Continue to watch for announcements on our website and social media about the availability of the vaccine to each phase. With today’s turn of events with COVID-19 in our facility and the community, the vaccination couldn’t come at a better time.”
Monday morning, December 28, HCMC’s CCU and PCU/COVID-19 unit were both full and all ventilators were in use, with three anesthesia machines being converted to ventilators to serve COVID-19 patients. Some of the Emergency Department rooms are being converted to ventilator rooms to care for COVID-19 patients. All elective surgeries for the week of December 28 have been cancelled due to the need to have resources available to care for COVID-19 patients.
“As evident by today’s changes in our facility, we urge our community to stay committed to following safety protocols,” said Neely Ashby, Chief Nursing Officer. “Our staff are tired and our resources are being taxed. We need everyone in our community to stay the course and keep everyone safe so that we can care for not just COVID-19 patients, but others who need care at this time.”
HCMC continues to offer COVID-19 testing with a provider’s orders. Additionally, the Henry County Health Department continues to provide free COVID testing with new self-tests provided on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday by appointment. Regular nose swab tests will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. by appointment only.
HCMC Outpatient Infusion is offering by physician order only monoclonal antibody therapy, bamlanivimab as well casirivimab/imdevimab, for treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults with positive COVID-19 test results who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. These treatments are seeing great results for patients in our community who meet criteria.
How you can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses such as Coronavirus:
* Stay home when you are sick.
* Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then discard in a trash.
* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
* Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
* Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
To view our video of providers and staff receiving the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine and the reasons they took the vaccine, view here: https://youtu.be/I7ErPHKo9zQ
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your health care provider. To learn more, go to our website at www.hcmc-tn.org or go to the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html
Located in Paris, Tenn., Henry County Medical Center is a progressive, integrated healthcare organization committed to serving the healthcare needs of Henry County and the adjoining region. Including a 142-bed hospital and other facilities, the medical center provides a variety of outpatient services, as well as inpatient care. Additionally, HCMC owns and operates 8 provider clinics in various specialties. Henry County Medical Center is a county-owned and operated nonprofit institution. For more information: www.hcmc-tn.org.