Boothbay Region YMCA and LincolnHealth are gearing up for the first round of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for Lincoln County’s 70 and older population beginning Jan. 25. LincolnHealth Director of Operations Brian Blethen and BRYMCA Executive Director Andy Hamblett observed one of the last dry runs Jan. 21.
When approached by LincolnHealth for use of the Marylouise Tandy Cowan Fieldhouse, Hamblett said yes was not the easiest answer, due to social distancing and limited space for Y patrons. But it was the right answer, he said. “That's a culture that’s part of this Y … Whether it's Sue Burge talking about Set for Success or the school needing overflow parking, whether big or little – this is about as big as it gets … And when we saw what it could do for the community, that made the decision even easier.”
There will be about 25 staff counting nurses, doctors and other personnel, said Blethen. Some of the roles are team captain, host, outdoor attendants, screeners, check-in people and vaccine administrators as well as EMS and law enforcement. Several medical necessities and amenities will be on site such as defibrillators, oxygen, counteracting medication, an enclosed area for private consultations, cots and a pharmacy where the doses will be prepared. Many doctors will donate time beyond their clinic hours to help administer doses.
Blethen said the original plan was to take no more than two months, but as the only vaccination center in Lincoln County, it has become clear the undertaking is far bigger. “Now that we've addressed healthcare workers and first responders and those folks, now we get to sort of go out to the community at large and start with 70 and older folks … (However) we're quickly learning that we're going to have to phase dose one and dose two – this could be anywhere from six to nine months that we'll need to provide this service.”
While Blethen acknowledged the pressure a long stay will put on the Y, Hamblett said the Fieldhouse doors are open to LincolnHealth for however long it takes to get to the last dose of the second round.
“Any time you disrupt a program or a service, that impacts the constituents that you're serving, sure, but this is bigger than playing tennis or racquetball or basketball,” said Hamblett. “We'll do this as long as it's needed because the sooner this all happens, the sooner we'll all get back to more open living.”
Hamblett said Central Lincoln County YMCA has agreed to host or integrate Y members who participate in programs like tennis and pickleball which normally occupy the Fieldhouse. He also said the overhead indoor track will remain open.
Blethen and Hamblett said the goal in all the preparations is about fast-tracking the process as much as possible, and about community and providing the best experience under the circumstances. “We don't want it just to be a triage event. We do want to get as best customer service as we possibly can … It's all these details that go into hopefully making this a positive event for everybody.”