Hospital holds first vaccine clinic

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The Deep River and District Hospital (DRDH) held its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic over the weekend.

Staff and physicians from the Four Seasons Lodge and North Renfrew Long-Term Care Centre (NRLTCC) were the first people of the day to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

A collaborative effort between DRDH, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), and the Renfrew County and District Health Unit, Saturday’s clinic was the first of a number of scheduled clinics for groups in the hospital’s catchment area who have been prioritized to receive the vaccine at this stage of the vaccine rollout.

Prioritized individuals at this stage include long-term care staff, essential caregivers for long-term care residents, and health care workers at high risk.

“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine across our region provides optimism and confidence to everyone that the spread of the virus can be controlled,” said Janna Hotson, incoming president and CEO of DRDH.

“The launch of our clinics has been a significant milestone for everyone involved, and we are now one step closer to controlling the virus and keeping our community safe from COVID-19.”

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, the North Renfrew Long-Term Care Centre, Algonquin College, and community volunteers partnered with the team from DRDH to give the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to approximately 300 eligible people at Saturday’s clinic.

Tabitha Kearney, incoming DRDH chief nursing executive, credited the work of all those involved for making this first clinic happen.

“We are so thankful for the close community we are a part of, and the strength of our partnerships with such supportive organizations in our area,” she said.

“Working with our health unit, CNL, students from Algonquin College, NRLTCC, and the many others in our health care community who stepped up to provide assistance allowed us to stand up these clinics quickly, and ensure we can provide excellent and compassionate health care to our patients, residents, and community.”

Kearney described preparation for the launch of the clinics as an “all hands on deck” collaborative effort involving many throughout the organization and beyond.

“Hosting clinics for our healthcare partners, our staff, and eventually, for the public means a lot to those who have been working very hard behind-the-scenes over the past year to care for our community,” Hotson said.

“The first clinic on Saturday ran exceptionally smooth, and sets the stage for the team to continue to deliver further vaccinations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Across Renfrew County, in alignment with the provincial framework, all reasonable steps are being taken to complete first-dose vaccinations for the populations in the “immediate priority” groups.

After the “immediate priority” groups have been completed, vaccinations may be made available to the remainder of the province’s “phase one” populations, which includes adults 80 years of age or older.

Dr. Rob Cushman, acting medical officer of health for Renfrew County and District, said vaccine shipments are now arriving quickly in the region.

With clinics beginning to be held across the county, Dr. Cushman said that the healthcare sector has “pulled together like never before for priority number one, to control the pandemic by vaccinating as many residents as quickly as possible.”

“The commitment and the enthusiasm are unparalleled. On behalf of the general public, I want to thank all those involved.”

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