Hospice not receiving as many COVID-19 vaccines

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 6:23 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WILX) - Melissa Holtz of Charlotte cares for her husband who is in hospice. Because many hospice companies don’t have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, Holtz was told she would have to take her husband to a clinic to receive it.

“He’s in bed for the rest of the day because it just exhausts him. He can’t breathe. It’s just too much for him,” said Melissa Holtz. “I just want to know why they couldn’t get it, and get it to the homes of the patients that need it. With his condition, even a common cold could take him. We haven’t been out of this house in a year.”

With his oxygen in tow, she and her granddaughter took him to a facility in Hastings to get the shot.

“We had to take him out and there was probably 40 some people there. How do you know that one of them isn’t a carrier?” she said.

Anne Barna, the planning, promotion, and evaluation unit manager of the Barry-Eaton District Health Department says they’ve been working on a way to get the vaccine to people who can’t leave their homes.

“Individuals that are over age 65 and currently eligible and are homebound, we have been having conversations with the Tri-County Office on Aging to learn a little bit more about who those folks are and how we can best serve them,” said Anne Barna.

“There’s a lot of planning that needs to go into being able to go into someone’s home and deliver a vaccination. We have to make a plan to do at least 10 of those visits in a day. We also have to follow the rules for the storage and transportation of the vaccine,” Barna added.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, hospice nurses are allowed to give the vaccine. However, they must coordinate with local health departments in order to be allowed to do so.

“Really, the issue is having the staff capacity to be able to do those types of services out at people’s homes. We recognize that it’s a need and we’re looking forward to meeting that need. But, currently, it’s not something that we’re able to do right now,” said Anne Barna.

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