Lt. Gov. Coleman Helps Open Center
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman visited Ephraim McDowell’s Regional Vaccination Center in Danville on Tuesday, Feb. 2. McDowell Health officials say she was instrumental in the state government’s decision to designate Ephraim McDowell as a Regional Vaccination Center.
“Our health care system is very appreciative of the actions taken by Lt. Gov. Coleman to allow us to provide the covid-19 vaccine to the public,” said Daniel McKay, president and chief executive officer of Ephraim McDowell Health. “As a health care system that serves more than 120,000 people in a six-county area, we were very pleased to earn designation as a Regional Vaccination Center.”
Ephraim McDowell had initially been told it would not be selected as a vaccination center. Leaders and employees of the health care system quickly appealed to legislators in the six-county area. Lt. Gov. Coleman, who is from Burgin, worked with Transportation Cabinet Secretary James Gray to change the state’s decision.
On Tuesday, Coleman said it was important to provide access and opportunity to rural Kentuckians. But, for Coleman, there was more to it than that.
“I was born in this hospital,” she said. “This means a lot to me.”
Tuesday was a busy day for Coleman. Earlier, she had introduced the first person to receive a vaccination at the regional vaccination center located at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
During her trip to Danville, Coleman met members of McDowell’s covid-19 team. She said it was important to provide vaccinations to the health care workers who she said have “shouldered much of the burden of the pandemic for an entire year.”
“To say they’ve gone above and beyond is an understatement,” she said.
The decision to name McDowell as one of four regional vaccination centers was announced last Thursday. Jeremy Cocanougher, director of marketing and public relations at Ephraim McDowell Health, said they had received 187,000 calls by the end of Friday, including one lady who said she had called 255 times. Cocanougher said she was one of the first to get the vaccination.
“She was extremely happy,” Cocanougher said.
Also happy was Bruce Nichols of Danville, who was among the first to be vaccinated Tuesday. Nichols said he had called several elected officials, including State Rep. Kim King, to lobby them for a vaccination center in the area.
“This is tremendously good news for our community and the more than 150,000 Kentuckians served by Ephraim McDowell in neighboring counties like ours. I appreciate Secretary Gray’s attention to this matter and hope we will see more vaccines reach our rural communities in the near future,” said Rep. Kim King.
Nichols wasn’t exactly overjoyed to be photographed while getting his shot, but he said it was important to get the word out.
“This is great,” Nichols said.
Ephraim McDowell expects to receive 300 doses of vaccine weekly for at least the next three weeks and hopes additional doses will be made available as vaccine supplies increase. Vaccines will be given only to individuals who schedule an appointment to receive a dose. Cocanougher said the first two days are all booked.
Vaccinations are seen as key to reopening the economy. Real gross domestic product—the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year—decreased 3.5 percent in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. It’s the worst contraction of the national economy since World War II.
Last week, President Joe Biden announced he intends to use the Defense Production Act to expand the manufacturing and purchasing of vaccines and other coronavirus-related items. The president has set a goal of delivering 1.5 million vaccinations a day. Former President Donald Trump invoked the act last year to increase production of ventilators and personal protection equipment.
The Ephraim McDowell Vaccination Center is located on the second floor of the Gilcher Building (Surgery Center), 230 West Main Street, behind the City Parking Garage. At the center, a team of nurses are providing the Moderna vaccine to individuals who have scheduled appointments. Currently, vaccines will be available for individuals in Tiers 1A (long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and healthcare personnel) and Tier 1B (first responders, anyone age 70 or older, and K-12 school personnel).
Most appointments have been filled, but Ephraim McDowell is also compiling a waiting list of individuals who want the vaccine. Individuals can join that waiting list by calling (859) 936-8350 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or by going to www.emhealth.org and completing an online form.
Kentuckians can visit vaccine.ky.gov to learn if they are eligible for a vaccination and be directed to a map of available vaccine sites across the state. Kentuckians not currently eligible for a shot are encouraged to sign up for text or email updates by entering their name, county of residence and an email or phone number. The sign-up will provide alerts when a person’s eligibility changes or when vaccines are available in the area.
Kentuckians who do not have internet access can call 855-598-2246 or TTY 855-326-4654 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information, including daily reports and state statistics, visit kycovid19.ky.gov.