Frontline team members set to receive vaccination
December 18, 2020 — In a historic event, Englewood Health has received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which it began administering to its frontline team members earlier today.
“Since day one of the pandemic, our team never hesitated for one second to care for the many communities we serve and stood tall in the face of an unknown and unpredictable new virus,” said Warren Geller, president and CEO of Englewood Health. “Today, by beginning to administer the first round of vaccines to our team members, we turn the page to the start of a new chapter in our efforts to combat COVID-19, and we could not be more excited.”
Frontline members of the emergency department—which has seen nearly 3,000 COVID-19 patients during the course of the pandemic—as well as the intensive care unit, other inpatient units, and specialty services such as infectious disease and pulmonology, are among the first to receive the vaccine today. The vaccine is being offered in a phased approach following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health as the supply becomes available.
“It is so important to get the vaccine once it’s available to you in order to reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill,” said Kathleen Kaminsky, MS, RN, NE-BC, senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Englewood Health. “It’s the right thing to do to protect not only ourselves, but also one another.”
The first injections of the vaccine were administered in unison earlier this morning to four team members from different disciplines in recognition of the teamwork and all-hands-on-deck approach that continues to help Englewood Health navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After a very long and trying year, today we take a collective sigh of relief and we celebrate,” said Hillary Cohen, MD, vice president of medical affairs and chief of the emergency department at Englewood Health. “We are not just celebrating the miracle of science that has brought us a safe and effective vaccine in record time, but we also celebrate the bravery and selflessness of our frontline healthcare workers. Today we thank our team members as we vaccinate them. The vaccine will make sure they are protected and can go home to their families at night and not worry they will bring home this disease, which is now taking 3,000 lives a day in this country.”
“Throughout the course of this pandemic, we’ve seen glimmers of hope. But what we are seeing today is more than a glimmer. It’s true light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, it’s extremely important to remind everyone that this does not mean it’s okay to let our guard down,” said Stephen Brunnquell, MD, president of the Englewood Health Physician Network. “Even after receiving the vaccine, individuals must continue to wear masks, social distance, and practice hand hygiene—everything we all have been doing since the start of the pandemic in the spring. If we continue to keep our foot on the gas pedal, we’ll be that much closer to coming out the other side of this unprecedented series of events.”
The first recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were Craigh Bryan, MD, a hospitalist; Brianna Cioffi, a patient care associate in the main COVID unit; Cody Lallathin, RN, a nurse in the cardiac unit; and Eric Maldonado, RN, an ICU nurse.
“I’m proud to be from the ICU, and to be one of the first recipients,” said Maldonado. “It’s a sign of hope, a glimpse of going back to normal. “If the nurses get sick, who is going to take care of the patients?”
Dr. Bryan added, “The fact that we have a vaccine that we know is effective and safe is astounding. I’m very hopeful that from here on things are going to change for the better.”
Englewood Health expects to offer the vaccine to patients and the general public in 2021. More information will be posted on the Englewood Health website when those details are available.
The New Jersey Department of Health has set up a website for individuals to learn more about the vaccine and the vaccination process. Visit covid19.nj.gov for information.