The first on-site Pfizer vaccinations have been given to staff and residents – who have not tested positive for COVID-19 – at Maple Manor long term care facility in Tillsonburg Tuesday morning.
“(Tuesday) morning, we had several residents and staff that were vaccinated at Maple Manor Nursing Home,” George Kaniuk, president of Maple Manor, confirmed.
“We hold our hands together in thanks… that we were able to access those vaccinations,” said Kaniuk. “And what you will see as time goes on is that there will be more and more of this. So we are terrifically grateful.”
It’s a significant milestone in the Southwestern Public Health region’s fight against the COVID-19 virus, resulting from a partnership with London Health Sciences Centre, Oxford County Emergency Medical Services, the staff of Southwestern Public Health, and long term care homes in Oxford and Elgin counties.
In total, 118 vaccines were administered Tuesday at Maple Manor, Extendicare in Port Stanley, and PeopleCare in Tavistock.
The region has a total of 1,378 long term care home residents to vaccinate in addition to more than 500 residents in local retirement homes.
“We are so happy to share a good news story during an otherwise difficult time,” said Dr. Joyce Lock, Medical Officer of Health for the region.
“As a result of significant planning and strong partnership, the Pfizer vaccine was transferred London Health Sciences Centre to homes in our region assessed to have an urgent need. Yesterday (Jan. 12) was an exciting first step in protecting the most vulnerable in our community.
“We appreciate the flexibility, organization and enthusiasm of our long term care home partners who made yesterday possible.”
Vaccination for staff at the long term care homes, including Maple Manor, began in December 2020 for those who could travel to the Western Fair Agriplex – and is ongoing. Southwestern Public Health is working closely with London Health Sciences Centre, which houses the region’s supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, to ensure first doses of the two-dose vaccine are administered to eligible long term care and retirement home staff, residents, and essential caregivers by mid-February.
Due to a very limited supply of the Pfizer vaccine, Tuesday’s initial allocation was prioritized for individuals who have not yet tested positive for the COVID-19 illness. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 will have a level of natural immunity upon recovery.
Southwestern Public Health will return to long term care homes that have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 virus when vaccine supplies increase.
Wednesday’s COVID-19 report showed 362 active cases in Oxford-Elgin, including 40 new cases today.
Tillsonburg’s active ongoing case total is 117. That includes Maple Manor residents, and staff who live in Tillsonburg.
Maple Manor, however, shows 80 residents and 48 staff have had COVID. That number is cumulative (since mid December) and is not an accurate representation of current active COVID numbers in the nursing home.
There has been a turnaround, said Kaniuk, in that some staff members who tested positive in December have safely resolved their COVID-19 while in 14-day isolation (quarantine away from Maple Manor), and a group of them are returning to work.
“We’re working as a unified group, in that the health unit, the local hospitals in Tillsonburg and Woodstock, their staff – in combination with mine – are absolutely incredible human beings. The effort that they’re making to turn this thing around… the extraordinary diligence. Hard work. Everybody is focused. They’re laser-focused on every resident in that facility, I cannot find enough superlatives.”
A doctor visits Maple Manor every single day, said Kaniuk, and monitors residents with Maple Manor’s nurse practitioners, RNs and health care agents (PSWs).
“The work that they are doing, it’s just beyond words.
“We had great difficulty, but by getting the people from the hospitals, volunteers, registered nurses coming in, housekeepers coming in, these people volunteered their time to help us out, and I can’t tell you the enormous debt of gratitude that I have for those people.
“It’s been extraordinary.”
Learn more about local COVID-19 immunization at swpublichealth.ca/covid19vaccine.