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

As Pennsylvania prepares to leave Phase 1A, some long-term care facilities are saying "not so fast." KDKA's Meghan Schiller reports.

Video Transcript

- And as Pennsylvania prepares to leave phase 1A in the rearview mirror, some personal care homes are saying, not so fast. New at 6:00, our Meghan Schiller visited one facility in Elizabeth that reached out for help in vaccinating new residents and staff.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: The people here at Grandview Estates say, they fear that there's been a breakdown in the system, and they ask, who can come vaccinate their new residents and new staff? The Federal Pharmacy Partnership already left town, and they say, they can't find a local pharmacy to agree to come inside.

Take a walk down the hall at Grandview Estates, and you'll, finally, see smiles again.

- He eats carrots, not jelly beans.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: But behind closed doors, these two women spend hours on the phone.

JEANNETTE SWANEY: I have been trying for weeks to get, number one, a second vaccine for the two residents that had it, and then our new residents.

- 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.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: The Federal Pharmacy Partnership vaccinated most of the homes 40 plus residents, but since left town. And Lori needs to hire more people.

- It's hard enough to find people as it is. You know, it's very difficult in this field, and to not be able to offer the vaccine, people are afraid. They have kids at home.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: It's a problem Zach Shamberg's talked about for months.

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

MEGHAN SCHILLER: He tells me, we can't leave every long term care provider to fend for itself, saying, not circling back leaves an incomplete job.

ZACH SHAMBERG: 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.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: Today, I asked the state's Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres, is there a plan?

ROBERT TORRES: That's been an ongoing concern. What I can tell you is, again, this past Tuesday, the subcommittee on aging, that's a subject matter that we've been discussing.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: But for Jeannette and Lori, every day is a risk. They're calling any and all pharmacies near and far.

- We just opened back up, and the residents are so happy. Because their families-- the families are ecstatic. Because they get to see their family members and talk to them. We just want them vaccinated. That's it.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: This facility tells me it had a great relationship with the local pharmacy, but when the state cut back on providers that received doses, they didn't make the cut. That's why they're hoping any other pharmacy will hear their pleas and agree to come help. Reporting in Elizabeth, tonight, Megan Schiller, KDKA News.