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PARIS (January 5) — In a very busy rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Henry County Medical Center distributed all of its vaccine against COVID-19 in one day and is awaiting its next shipment. The hospital is at capacity and working diligently to end this pandemic.
At a press conference Hospitalist Dr. Amanda (Mansfield) Finley said healthcare workers were administering about two vaccines per minute. That’s in great part to the staff, volunteers, and retired medical personnel who assisted during the day.
Attending the news conference were Marketing Representative Steve Parker, Director of Marketing Tory Daughtery, Director of Pharmacy Paula Bell, CEO Lisa Casteel, new County Mayor John Penn Ridgeway, and Dr. Finley.
Those same patients will return in a few weeks to receive the second and final dose to insure immunity from the COVID-19 virus. Patients must receive the same brand on the second vaccination as the first.
The facility can administer either the Phizer or Moderna vaccines, depending on availability. The hospital has a new deep freezer that is necessary to store the Phizer vaccine.
HCMC Public Relations Director Tory Daughrity said all 765 doses of the vaccine were administered Tuesday. “We administered 765 doses in five hours,” she said.
The drive-through clinic had been scheduled to last to Friday, but with no more vaccine, the remainder of the week’s rollout was cancelled. Henry County Health Department is also administering the vaccines.
People started lining up in their cars two hours before the drive-through began and lines of cars stretched all the way from the hospital and to the NAPA store and beyond on Mineral Wells Avenue.
Director of Pharmacy Paula Bell said most everyone was complimentary of the efficiency of hospital staff and volunteers. She said each dose had to be drawn into a syringe and then administered to the patient, who sat in his or her car during the process. That process required lots of coordination to register the patients, draw the vaccines and administer them safely. Vaccines were only administered to Henry County residents.
Hospital CEO Lisa Casteel said another round of vaccines would be administered to school staff members (both Henry County Schools and Paris Special Schools staff) on Wednesday, January 6.
Casteel also said the hospital is currently at capacity with patients, in large part, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Elective surgeries are also postponed as the medical facility attempts to manage its load of existing patients. Casteel encouraged everyone to follow the guidelines of social distancing, washing of hands, and wearing of masks. “It will take everybody to stop this,” said the CEO of the pandemic.
She said the hospital’s 70 beds are filled with patients with some held in reserve for emergency or maturity care. Of the 70 beds, 46 are reserved for medical/surgical and critical care patients. The hospital has six ventilators with two more on backorder since April or May 2020.
Statewide, 91 percent of all ICU beds are occupied, said Casteel.
Dr. Finley said, due to the lack of availability of beds in the area, the hospital has difficulty transferring patients to other facilities.
Casteel said the pandemic has put a financial strain on hospitals. While the facility received PPP money and stimulus of $10 to $15 million, Casteel said the facility is uncertain how the government wants the facility to account for those funds on its profit and loss statement.
And just as U.S. citizens are still vaccinated for diseases such as polio and mumps, Dr. Finley said vaccinations will probably continue for years to guard against another coronavirus pandemic.