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Long-Term Care Facilities Worried About Getting Left Behind As State Moves From Phase 1A

UPDATE: After this story aired on KDKA News, the PCA Pharmacy called Grandview Estates and offered to vaccinate the remaining residents and staff. The facility tells KDKA it is so very grateful.

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - When it comes to states with the oldest populations, Pennsylvania ranks third. As we prepare to leave phase 1A in the rearview mirror, some personal care homes say, "hold up."

KDKA's Meghan Schiller visited one facility in Elizabeth that reached out for help in vaccinating new residents and staff.

The management at Grandview Estates says they feel there's been a breakdown in the system. They want to know who can help them vaccinate new residents and staff. The federal pharmacy partnership already left town and there's no nearby pharmacy that will agree to come inside.

Take a walk down the hall of Grandview Estate and you'll finally see smiles again, but behind closed doors, two women spend hours on the phone.

"I have been trying for weeks to get number one, the second vaccine for the two residents that had it, and then our new residents," said Director of Operations Jeannette Swaney.

"What happens is the four that aren't are always at risk. We can't isolate them, they can't be kept in their room, so they're at risk because we have visitors coming now," said co-owner Lori Lasosky.

The federal pharmacy partnership helped to vaccinate the majority of the home's 40-plus residents, but Lasosky needs to hire more people.

"And it's hard enough to be able to find people as it is. It's very difficult in this field and to not be able to offer the vaccine, people are afraid, they have kids at home," said Lasosky.

It's a problem President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association Zach Shamberg has talked about for months.

"Since day one, since the vaccine first arrived in Pennsylvania on Dec. 14, we've been asking for some sort of plan to ensure that new residents and new staff members can continue to be vaccinated," said Shamberg.

He told Meghan Schiller, "We can't leave every long-term care provider to find for itself," adding not circling back leaves an incomplete job.

"One, you won't see new staff coming to long-term care. You won't see new residents being admitted to long-term care, and if you do, we could see new cases again," he says.

Meghan Schiller asked the state's Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres if there's a plan.

"That's been an ongoing concern. What I can tell you, this past Tuesday, the subcommittee on aging, that's a subject matter we've been discussing," said Torres.

But for Jeannette and Lori, every day is a risk. They're calling any and all pharmacies, near and far. They say their residents are so happy to see their families, and they just want them vaccinated.

This personal care home says it had a great relationship with a local pharmacy, but it didn't make the cut when the state cut back on providers, so it doesn't have any doses. They're hoping another pharmacy will hear their pleas and come help.

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