EMRMC named a regional vaccine site

A vaccine site has been granted to Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville. Gov. Andy Beshear made the announcement during his daily address to Kentuckians concerning COVID-19 updates Thursday afternoon. Three other sites were also announced including Kroger Health which will open its first regional vaccination site at the Kentucky Horse Park; Western Baptist and Lourdes Mercy hospitals, both in Paducah.

Ephraim McDowell Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Bunch said, “We are very pleased with the announcement from the governor’s office to make EMRMC a COVID-19 regional vaccination center. This will improve the vaccine availability for our citizens in our quest to end this pandemic. We encourage everyone in our community to get vaccinated.”

According to Bunch, EMH has only one center approved at the moment, which will be located on the second floor of the Gilcher Building, 230 West Main Street in Danville. The vaccination center entrance is adjacent to the parking structure.

EMRMC has been guaranteed 300 doses per week of the vaccine, Bunch said. But the hospital is able to administer 500 doses a day, he added.

Kentucky vaccine centers mandates state: “On Feb. 1, 2021, the COVID-19 vaccination priority will be phase 1B, which is for persons age 70 years or older. All vaccination sites are asked to prioritize this population until further notice. Other persons from Phase 1A and 1B remain eligible for vaccination.

“As vaccine quantities and available appointment times allow, persons in phase 1C may also be scheduled to ensure each vaccination site administers 90% or more of all vaccine doses received within seven days of arrival.”

Bunch said vaccinations will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Residents who want to find out the most up to date information about local vaccination availability at EMRMC should go to the hospital’s website at www.emhealth.org. No online registration will be available, but there will be a call center phone number listed which will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting today (Friday, Jan.29.)

Bunch said they are also lining up volunteers for clinical and nonclinical positions to help with administering the vaccines, especially when doses become more abundant later in the spring and summer.

Bunch said, “Thank you to everyone who advocated for Ephraim McDowell Health to become a COVID-19 vaccination center. Boyle, Lincoln, Mercer, Garrard, Washington and Casey County residents and our local officials were instrumental in bringing vaccinations to our communities. Today, Ephraim McDowell was accepted and listed as a KY COVID-19 vaccination center because of your efforts.”

However, Bunch added, “We will receive at least 300 doses a week starting Feb. 1. We expect these baseline levels to increase over time. Beginning Tuesday, we will have 300 first doses to administer. You must be in Tier 1A or 1B, as outlined on KyCOVID19.ky.gov to receive a vaccine.”

After learning of the announcement, Hunt said, “We thank Gov. Beshear and Secretary Gray for responding to our request that EMRMC be designated a vaccination distribution site.  This is a tremendous move forward in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in our area.”

Hunt said the county offices had received many calls and emails from local residents who were frustrated and concerned that they were not given convenient access to the vaccine. “I want the public to be reassured that both Boyle County and city of Danville officials are committed to caring for our citizens. Offering our community the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly and safely as possible in their home community is a tremendous move forward to helping get our lives back to normal,” Hunt said.

 “With EMRMC now designated as a vaccination site, I can publicly share with the community another example of how our governments are working together daily to mitigate this virus and its impact on our citizens.  This is a victory for Boyle County and for that, I am pleased.”

Hunt added, “Patience is requested. EMRMC will need time to implement a system for registration and distribution so patience is requested. Please do not call Ephraim McDowell to try to schedule a vaccine.”

The announcement came just three days after Kentucky Director of COVID Vaccine Distribution Jim Gray, along with state representatives from the public health department, emergency management and transportation experts met with hospital officials Monday morning, Jan. 25, to evaluate the feasibility of having a vaccine center there. The visit was in response to a letter sent to Gray by Boyle Judge-Executive Howard Hunt, Mayor Mike Perros and Boyle County Emergency Management Director Mike Wilder last week asking for Ephraim McDowell be named as a regional vaccine site.

The Governor also unveiled a new state website, vaccine.ky.gov, and hotline that help Kentuckians determine if they are eligible to receive a vaccine and then helps them find one in their region. The hotline – 855-598-2246 or TTY 855-326-4654 – is available 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.

Gov. Beshear stressed that Kentucky, like other states, receives its vaccine doses from the federal government and due to limited supplies it will take time before everyone can be vaccinated. But, he said, everyone will get a turn.