Miles from big vaccination websites such because the Nassau Coliseum, tens of hundreds of Lengthy Islanders have been receiving their COVID-19 vaccines on the similar nonprofit well being facilities the place lots of them get their medical care.
Napoleon Coronel Zhiminaicela, 50, acquired his first COVID-19 vaccine dose on Wednesday at Solar River Well being Patchogue, the place he has been a affected person for greater than 19 years. Zhiminaicela, of Medford, mentioned he trusts and likes the medical doctors and nurses there.
“They take superb care of me for not some huge cash,” Zhiminaicela mentioned in Spanish moments after a nurse administered a dose of the Moderna vaccine.
The ten federally certified well being facilities in Suffolk County and 6 in Nassau are a key a part of the vaccination effort, specialists and FQHC officers mentioned. Greater than 41,000 doses have been administered on the 16 Lengthy Island facilities, which obtain a patchwork of funding, together with from affected person charges, Medicaid, Medicare, non-public insurance coverage and authorities and personal grants.
Federal guidelines require that FQHCs present care on a sliding scale primarily based on skill to pay and that they be situated in medically underserved areas. A lot of their sufferers are uninsured or underinsured, and a few are within the nation with out authorized authorization and will not belief mass vaccination websites the place police or Nationwide Guard troops assist with logistics, mentioned Carlos Ortiz, who oversees the Suffolk facilities for the nonprofit, Peekskill-based Solar River.
They’re “a great car” for vaccinations, mentioned Dr. Brian Harper, a former Suffolk County well being commissioner.
“These well being care facilities have been there for various years, they usually’ve developed a superb rapport with the neighborhood, so belief could also be much less of a difficulty,” mentioned Harper, chief medical officer and vp for fairness and inclusion on the Previous Westbury-based New York Institute of Expertise.
Many individuals served by FQHCs would have a tough time accessing well being care elsewhere, he mentioned.
In February, the Biden administration started sending vaccines on to a few of the greater than 1,300 FQHCs nationwide.
Facilities calling sufferers to get them in
Ortiz, Solar River’s vp of operations, mentioned the facilities have been calling, texting, emailing and sending letters to sufferers to allow them to know concerning the on-site vaccinations, and medical doctors and nurses have been selling the vaccines when sufferers are available for different medical causes.
That’s a great alternative to encourage sufferers to get vaccinated, mentioned Reginale Craig, nurse supervisor on the Westbury well being heart, which, together with the opposite Nassau facilities, is run by Westbury-based Lengthy Island FQHC.
“After all, like anybody, they belief their medical doctors, they usually’re in a position to communicate with their medical doctors and ask them questions with regard to the vaccine,” Craig mentioned. “And their medical doctors are in a position to advise them and to simply reassure them, to present them that kind of training, so that they really feel comfy so far as receiving the vaccine, and know that if they’ve any points, they’ll at all times return right here to us.”
Many sufferers don’t have vehicles and will not have the ability to journey to mass vaccination websites like Jones Seashore, and a few aren’t tech-savvy and might’t make appointments on-line, Craig mentioned.
Petrona Lopez, 58, of Franklin Sq., was keen to drive to a mass vaccination website, however, like many different Lengthy Islanders, she had a tough time getting an appointment by way of the state vaccine web site, regardless of hours of attempting. A pal instructed her concerning the Westbury well being heart, and he or she referred to as for an appointment on March 31. She acquired her first Moderna dose the subsequent day.
Lopez, who has been wanting to get vaccinated as a result of she’s a public-facing safety guard at an workplace constructing and has been working all through the pandemic, mentioned she was so impressed by her expertise on the heart — and the way it presents care on a sliding scale — that she’s planning to modify from her physician to the Westbury FQHC.
“They’re very good right here,” Lopez mentioned after getting her second dose on Thursday.
Though lots of these getting the vaccines on the facilities are FQHC sufferers, others aren’t. The vaccinations can be found to anybody, FQHC officers mentioned.
In Suffolk, a van has been bringing vaccines to homeless shelters and to farmworkers, and 600 seniors have been vaccinated in Patchogue at an occasion geared towards residents of senior unbiased residing housing, Ortiz mentioned.
Affected person was ready for name
Gloria Bonilla, 53, of East Patchogue, mentioned she at all times had deliberate to get vaccinated however was ready for a name from the Patchogue well being heart, as a result of she needed to get the vaccine there, the place she’s been a affected person for greater than 20 years. She acquired the decision on April 27 and obtained the shot the subsequent morning.
“They’ve at all times taken excellent care of me right here,” Bonilla mentioned in Spanish simply earlier than getting her first dose.
Specialists are involved that widespread vaccine hesitancy — nationwide polls present between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 adults don’t plan to get inoculated — will stymie efforts to achieve herd immunity, when so many individuals are vaccinated that the unfold of the virus turns into way more troublesome.
Craig mentioned that, on the Westbury well being heart, there’s been little resistance to getting vaccinated, a sentiment she attributes to sufferers’ belief and luxury degree with workers.
“We haven’t seen an excessive amount of hesitancy,” she mentioned.