Three administrative employees at the Windemere nursing home have tested positive for Covid-19, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital officials announced Wednesday, as the hospital continues the early phases of its vaccine rollout. Although more than 200 frontline healthcare workers have now been vaccinated, delays in federal vaccine distribution have pushed vaccinations for staff and residents at the Windemere facility to mid-January. Vaccines for Windemere residents and staff were initially expected by the end of December.
Hospital officials also confirmed that they had admitted one Covid patient in recent days, marking at least the fourth coronavirus patient to receive treatment since the start of the month. The patient has since been released in good condition.
At a briefing Wednesday morning, hospital CEO Denise Schepici and head of operations Claire Seguin confirmed the three new positive cases at Windemere and said no other staff or residents have tested positive for the virus.
“Since our last briefing, we’ve had three additional employees test positive for COVID,” said Ms. Schepici. “We have done additional testing, and no residents or staff have tested positive.”
All three employees hold administrative positions at the care facility, with no direct patient care responsibilities, Ms. Schepici said. The three cases were identified about two weeks ago, she said.
The new cases mark the fifth positive cases identified in staff members at Windemere since the pandemic began. Two traveling certified nursing assistants assigned to the nursing home tested positive in the first week of December.
A hospital affiliate, Windemere regularly tests its staff and residents on a weekly basis in accordance with state public health requirements for care facilities. The nursing home has also re-upped its health guidelines for staff members and tightened its visitation policies since the initial positive cases.
Additional testing of staff and residents since the three diagnoses last week have shown no new positives, Ms. Schepici said.
Meanwhile, the first delivery of Covid-19 vaccinations for the nursing home — scheduled to arrive at the facility by the end of the month — have been delayed nearly two weeks due to hiccups in the the federal government’s distribution plan, Ms. Schepici said.
“This program is regulated and distributed through the federal program, so there’s been delays in receiving the vaccine and coordinating people to come over and administer them,” she said.
According to a new timeline, the vaccination program will now begin Jan. 12 with a first dose, followed by a second round set to arrive on Feb. 2. The vaccine, both provided and administered through CVS Pharmacy, will be available to all staff members and residents at the nursing home.
Ms. Schepici said she believes all 40 residents in the facility will elect to be vaccinated.
“Hundred per cent of staff and residents will be vaccinated,” Ms. Schepici said. “In talking with the families and also with the residents, we believe everybody’s going to get it.”
Vaccinations at the hospital are also underway, Ms. Seguin announced Wednesday, with 212 frontline hospital employees already vaccinated and remaining workers slated for the first dose of vaccine in the coming months.
“The vaccine program at the hospitals things have been running very smoothly,” said Ms. Seguin. “We expect to be able to give all of our frontline staff, those in contact with Covid-positive patients, their first dose of vaccine by sometime later in January.”
Ms. Seguin said of the 212 already vaccinated, 127 workers have received the Moderna vaccine, while the remaining 85 have received the Pfizer. Both vaccines require two doses, administered within 20 or so days of one another.
Vaccinations have yielded positive results so far, Ms. Seguin said, although a handful of employees reported mild symptoms, including headaches and arm discomfort, and one employee has missed work as a result of the vaccine.
The hospital hopes to finish administering first doses of vaccine to frontline staff in the next few weeks and move next to hospital workers not in direct contact with Covid patients, Ms. Seguin said. The Island general public can expect widespread availability of the vaccine in the spring, she said.
The hospital’s vaccination distribution plan has been designed in conjunction with the Mass General Brigham vaccine team, based on supply and state guidance. The plan was also informed by vaccine criteria released by the Department of Public Health.
“We are committed to working with an established eligibility criteria for the vaccine and doing so in a fair and equitable way to our team here at the hospital, and will continue to do so when the vaccine is rolled out to more and more individuals,” said Ms. Seguin.
Even with vaccinations on the horizon, Ms. Schepici and Ms. Seguin urged caution and vigilance in the coming months, particularly as the aftermath of the holidays brings worry over additional spikes in case counts.
“This is such a hopeful sign of progress, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” said Ms. Seguin.