Queens councilman calls for better communication regarding COVID-19 vaccine

Councilman Robert Holden seeks better vaccine rollout for seniors after his mother Anne got COVID-19 at her nursing home. (Photo courtesy of Holden's office)

A Queens councilman is calling for better communication between the city, state and senior facilities after claiming his mother was denied a vaccine inoculation at a Middle Village rehabilitation facility.

Councilman Robert Holden has criticized New York’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, pointing to the lack of supply, a plethora of scheduling programs and miscommunication.

Holden said his 96-year-old mother Anne tested positive for COVID-19 after she was denied a vaccine inoculation at Dry Harbor Nursing Home in Middle Village late last year.

“My mother wasn’t permitted to have the vaccine when it was being distributed at Dry Harbor Nursing Home before Christmas, supposedly because of New York State policy that I’ve found out did not even exist,” Holden said. “I was told she couldn’t have it because she was a short-term resident. The virus doesn’t care if a senior in a nursing home is a short-term or long-term resident.”

As his mother recovers, Holden is looking at the larger problem of the COVID-19 vaccine’s rollout.

“This isn’t just about my mother, it’s about all seniors like my mother, who need the vaccine as quickly as possible, no matter where they live,” Holden said. “Blaming it on supply doesn’t cut it because they had plenty of supply weeks ago, but no coherent plan to distribute it. And there will be supply again soon, but there’s still no plan. The current system of making appointments is difficult to use, especially for seniors.”

Holden represents District 30 which includes the neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, and parts of Woodside and Woodhaven.

“There is a very large population of seniors living in my district, yet we have no vaccination sites,” Holden said. “Twenty-nine other council members have signed on to my letter to the Mayor asking the city to plan to use our senior centers as vaccination hubs. It makes sense because the centers are an existing lifeline for many seniors, for information and social interaction.”

Meanwhile, the Dry Harbor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center recently underwent a survey conducted by the New York State Department of Health at its facility, according to a Dry Harbor spokesperson.

“It concluded on January  25, 2021, and sought to determine Dry Harbor’s compliance with Article 28 of New York State’s Public Health Law, as well as Federal Medicare and Medicaid long term care facility program requirements, and it specifically reviewed Dry Harbor’s COVID-19 resident’s vaccination program policy and procedures and determined that Dry Harbor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center was in substantial compliance with all Federal and State program requirements and that, notably, no deficiencies at all were cited,” the spokesperson said.

This story was updated with a comment from Dry Harbor Nursing Home at 4:00 pm on Friday, Feb. 5.


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