Hinsdale Hospital readies for vaccine

Amita’s health care workers first in town to receive breakthrough COVID treatment

Amita Medical Center Hinsdale was expecting delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, with hopes of administering inoculations to its frontline healthcare staff Wednesday or Thursday.

The first injections vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were given in Illinois on Tuesday. Phase 1A of the state’s distribution plan prioritizes health care workers and long-term care facility residents.

Speaking on Tuesday, Adam Maycock, president and CEO of AMITA’s hospitals in Hinsdale and La Grange, said personnel have been preparing to receive and administer the vaccine.

“Over the last several weeks AMITA as a whole has been planning for the rollout of the vaccine for our associates and providers,” he said.

That has involved simulated exercises to ensure the process goes smoothly.

“We’ve done virtual dry runs making sure that the systems we use to register our employees are working appropriately and that we have the necessary resources and sharps containers (for disposal) and have alignment of our efforts through all the departments,” Maycock said.

Details on the timing of the vaccine’s arrival and the number of doses being delivered were unclear on Tuesday.

“We are expecting to have the typical allocation,” he said. Allocations are based on staff size.

Third-party vendors that work in the hospital are also included in the first wave of inoculations because of their potential direct exposure to COVID patients.

With 19 facilities across Chicago and the suburbs, AMITA Health has tried to standardize its procedures as much as possible while accounting for any county health department-based differences, Maycock related

“We coordinated at the regional level to make sure that it was being done relatively the same way,” he said.

Employees are not required to get the vaccine and Maycock acknowledged not everyone will sign up.

“Some are ready and willing, others are still unsure because of preexisting health conditions or because they haven’t gotten enough information,” he said.

Maycock, for his part. said he’ll get his — if there’s any left.

“I will likely be at the end of the line and happy to defer to our true frontline associates,” he said.

As for long-term care facilities, Julie Beckert, spokeswoman for ProMedica, which operates ManorCare in Hinsdale, said the company is still awaiting guidance from the state on vaccine delivery.

“We do not have a time frame for vaccines for any of our Illinois centers yet. We are partnering with CVS Health to deliver and administer the vaccine in three pop up clinics for each location,” she said.

Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday hailed distribution of the vaccine, manufactured by the drug company Pfizer, as the “beginning of the end” of the pandemic. The two-dose vaccine had an effectiveness rate of 95 percent among a study of 30,000 volunteers.

“Today marks only the beginning of the national vaccination rollout,” he said at his briefing in Chicago, reporting that Illinois is receiving about 109,000 doses this week. “Nationally, there are approximately 24 million people who the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) classifies as Phase 1A. Our destination is clear, but the road ahead will be long.”

Also at the briefing, Dr. Michael Olson, an assistant professor of medical microbiology at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine and member of the state’s independent vaccine review board, said the board included experts in immunology, epidemiology and infectious disease among others.

“We have independently reviewed the available scientific data supporting the authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. “We are in full agreement with the FDA authorization and CDC recommendation of the vaccine.”

Maycock said he expects the second doses of the vaccines to be administered in about 20 days. He looks forward to the vaccine becoming more widely available later in 2021.

“At whatever point we’re able to support the community with the vaccine, we will be ready to support it in that regard,” he said.

— Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

contributed to this story.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean