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Ohio Nursing Homes Begin Vaccinating Residents And Staff

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine watched as the first vaccine was administered at a Parma nursing home. [Lisa Ryan / ideastream]
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine watched as the first vaccine was administered at a Parma nursing home. [Lisa Ryan / ideastream]

Nursing homes across Ohio are starting to vaccinate residents and employees with the new COVID-19 vaccine. Pleasantview Care Center in Parma started vaccinating today, and Gov. Mike DeWine stopped there Friday morning to watch via livestream as the first employee received a shot.

“This is the day we have been waiting for since this pandemic started,” DeWine said.

Nursing homes and congregate living facilities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, often seeing outbreaks of the virus. Some nursing home workers have said they don't have enough personal protective equipment, and they worry about their health, their families' health, and the health of their patients.

“This has been one of the saddest stories of this pandemic, is the number of people who have died in nursing homes in Ohio and across the country,” DeWine said.

“This is something that weighs very heavily on me, and I know it does on everyone.”

Pleasantview Director of Nursing Emily Mahnen was the first person to receive the vaccine at the facility, and she said she was a little nervous to get the vaccine on camera, with the governor watching, but she was mostly excited.

“I was absolutely going to get the vaccine. It was never a question,” she said. “I want to make sure I’m doing the best thing for myself, for the patients, for the staff, for my family, so I was absolutely going to.”

The start of vaccinations not only means residents will be safe from the coronavirus, it will also mean they are closer to being able to see their families, Mahnen said.

“They haven’t been able to see their families,” Mahnen said.

“We’ve gone since March with a lot people not seeing their moms, their dads, their grandmas, their grandpas.”

The employees do their best to connect families through phone, video calls, and even some outside visitation when the weather permits, but Mahnen said it takes a toll on people to not be able to see their loved ones in person, and it takes a toll on the employees who want residents to be happy.

“It’s a struggle for everyone, knowing that they’re going through this,” she said.

Pleasantview Care Center has about 200 residents total, and with employees, they plan to give 300 doses of the vaccine.

“We’re grateful, we’re excited, and we’re hopeful that this is the beginning of the next chapter as this pandemic will hopefully come to an end,” said Eliav Sharvit, the CEO of Legacy Health Services, which runs Pleasantview and other long-term care facilities.

“This is clearly a large effort that’s going to take a little bit of time before it’s completed. It’s nice to be at the beginning of this stage, at this point.”

The rollout to vaccinate everyone at nursing homes will take about 3-4 weeks, and then they will move on to other congregate-care facilities, like people in assisted living, DeWine said.

Ohio might receive 500,000 vaccine doses in December, fewer than previously thought, he said.

“We thought at one time it was 660,000,” DeWine said. “But before any of us get too excited one way or the other, I think we just take it one week at a time and we see exactly what it is. It gives us some general idea of what is coming.”

The Moderna vaccine may arrive as soon as Monday or Tuesday in Ohio, DeWine said.

“For first few weeks at least, 70 percent of that will go to our hospitals, 30 percent of that will go to our local health departments,” DeWine said. “So, next week you're going to see in Cuyahoga County and in other counties across the state the health departments starting to get the vaccine.”


lisa.ryan@ideastream.org | 216-916-6158