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At a time when Illinois and healthcare providers are challenged to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine, Friendship Senior Options will have administered its 2,000th vaccination on February 5. As of January 28, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported that although 496,100 doses of the vaccine have been allocated for Long Term Care (LTC) facilities, only 131,284, or just over 1/4 had been administered.
Friendship Senior Options operates two premier senior living communities in the Chicago area, Friendship Village in Schaumburg and GreenFields of Geneva.
“Despite the apparent large numbers of vaccines available, securing the vaccines for our residents and associates has been a prolonged challenge,” said Stephen Yenchek, president and chief executive officer of FSO. “The integration of the public and private sector has left numerous gaps between vaccine production and final vaccination. There are many moving pieces and a lot of ambiguities in trying to secure the inventory that we need. We’ve devoted a lot of resources to the process, including but not limited to collaborating with the pharmaceutical partners, area legislators, Governor Pritzker’s office, and LeadingAge Illinois. We are extremely grateful to those who responded to our call. The challenges have been difficult, but we’ve learned, not insurmountable, as we prepare to deliver our 2,000th vaccine.”
Friendship Village and GreenFields are Life Plan Communities, offering independent living, assisted living, memory support, short-term rehabilitation, and skilled care. “It was important to us to secure vaccinations for all levels of care in our continuum,” said Steve.
FSO started working to combat COVID at the very beginning of the pandemic by following mitigation guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and other infectious disease experts. The organization has also taken the lead on COVID testing of residents and associates. “Since September, we have had twice-weekly testing for staff and once a week for residents in licensed areas of both communities,” said Josh Flaim, human resources director. To date, there have been approximately 34,000 tests conducted.
Dave Dattilo, a resident of GreenFields and president of its resident advisory council, stated, “It is due to FSO’s management and the staffs’ tireless efforts that we have been kept safe and provided with the vaccine. We are eternally grateful for their leadership and the protection that has been provided to our residents over the last ten months. Because of their determination, we are looking forward to the day when we can put this all behind us.”
Steve concluded that FSO’s advocacy on behalf of the residents was integral to securing the COVID-19 vaccinations. “There’s a lot in the imperfect process that needs to be navigated and challenged, but our milestone shows that there’s success possible.”