Shots For Homebound New Yorkers Have Lagged. A Vaccine Pause Didn’t Help. | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors
“I only have him, he is my second half,” he said of his caseworker, Albert Bencosme. “I don’t have nobody else. Just him and God.”
A travel nurse provider called Aya Healthcare has been supplying the nurses for the Fire Department’s effort. The city has also begun contracting with other companies, including the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and Zeel, a tech-focused wellness company, in order to speed up vaccinations to thousands of people already on waiting lists. The Northwell Health and Mount Sinai hospital systems each have also made around 550 visits to people already receiving at-home care through their systems, they said.
But the city’s vaccination program also been hindered by red tape, Ms. Brewer and several community-based organizations working with older New Yorkers said.
People wishing to register for a homebound vaccine through the city must fill out an interest form. Then someone from the city is supposed to reach out to each senior to verify they are “fully homebound,” meaning that they cannot leave their home, even with assistance. Then, the representative can schedule a vaccination.
This multi-step process has proved difficult to navigate, and does not line up with the reality of many homebound New Yorkers, said Maria Muniz, program director at Casabe Houses for the Elderly, a subsidized senior building in East Harlem. There are about 30 homebound people in her building, she said, and she filled out a form for each of them. She then gave her office phone number for each, because her residents, many of whom do not speak English well and have health impairments, do not always answer their phones.
Vaccinators sometimes call in the evenings when her office is closed, or on the weekends, she said. They have not been leaving messages, or they want to speak to each resident individually.
“Their response is really bad, I’m not getting anywhere,” Ms. Muniz said.
She has started talking with a local community clinic to see if she can get them to visit her residents directly. One of her homebound residents, she said, is 99; two others are in their mid-90s.