Nursing home staff waiting on vaccine


Scheduling dependant on state contracts with CVS, Walgreens


Nursing staff at both nursing homes in Washington County are still waiting for their turn to get the COVID vaccine. While many frontline medical personnel in the county have received their first – and even second – dose of the COVID vaccine, those who work at Centennial Homestead and Linn Community Nursing Home must wait to be vaccinated until CVS or Walgreens shows up to vaccinate nursing home residents and staff.

“As of today, we have not gotten ours and have not been contacted with our projected arrival date,” said Centennial Homestead’s Haely Ordoyne. “On the vaccine front, we’re kind of frustrated. It again seems as if we aren’t a priority. We are seeing lots of other individuals being offered the vaccine and seeing some people in other cities and states just being able to drive right on up and get it. It’s frustrating feeling like we’re not a priority for our state and governor.”

Centennial Homestead is waiting for its COVID vaccine from CVS or Walgreens, whichever one can administer the vaccine first, Ordoyne said. She said she contacted pharmacist Dustin Rogge, but he was not able to help her because the COVID vaccines were awarded on contract to CVS and Walgreens.

“The guidance we’ve been given by the state is that we will have to wait until it is our turn though the program as the funding for it has been allocated for our specific use,” she said. “So while others are getting it, we have to wait for the i’s to get dotted and the red tape to be worked through.”

Ordoyne said the COVID vaccine is not mandatory for employees or residents at Centennial Homestead.

Linn Community Nursing Home has chosen to receive its vaccines through Walgreens, and the first clinic for those vaccines is Jan. 15, according to Sarena Rosebaugh, director of nursing. Nursing home staff and residents at LCNH will be vaccinated on the same day.

Hanover Hospital administrator Brittni Oehmke said she has not received any information on when the COVID vaccine will be available to the Long Term Care residents there. She said that all staff at the Hanover facility who chose to receive the COVID vaccine have now received both doses.

Oehmke said Hanover’s Long Term Care has been “very fortunate to not have any COVID positive residents during the pandemic.”

She said three staff members have tested positive, though each case was unrelated to the other and did not affect the facility.

Rosebaugh said LCNH has had only two asymptomatic residents test positive for COVID-19, and no residents have tested positive since the middle of November. Thirteen staff members have tested positive since testing began.

Ordoyne said Centennial Homestead has not had a positive COVID case since early December, and the facility has been cleared of the virus since Dec. 18. The facility has recorded 18 residents and 15 staff members who have tested positive.

Testing at the local nursing homes is based on the county positivity rate. Washington County moved below 10 percent last week, and if that rate is maintained for two weeks, testing at the nursing homes can be reduced to once a week and in-person visitation can be offered again, officials said.

Testing options

“We have learned not to trust the rapid tests as they are not as accurate as the PCR tests,” Ordoyne said. “We have worked with the county and state to try to obtain oral saliva swab tests and are hopeful that we can proceed with these. The frustrating part that we are facing now is that people will be starting to have surveillance testing again after being positive. Our state policy is that once you test positive for COVID-19, you aren’t supposed to be tested again for 90 days. The thought was that the antibodies will remain in your system for up to 90 days. What we are finding though, and what research is proving, is that antibodies are actually present for closer to 6 months. Where this is a problem is that we are having people being tested after 90 days that will turn a test positive with their antibodies, not an active infection. When this happens, the person and all members of their household will have to re-quarantine and will possibly run into issues with Cares Act funding pay or PTO.”

Ordoyne said that they are being sent some testing supplies, but it is not enough. They are purchasing additional testing supplies at an average cost of $30 a test.