Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox has been among the more active providers administering vaccines for COVID-19 over the past several weeks.
So far, workers at Silver Cross have administered about 12,000 shots going back to December with the hospital’s own staff. Since Illinois advanced to Phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan, the hospital began vaccinating other eligible members of the community.
That’s included about 4,000 teachers in Will County, according to Dr. Frank Butler, the administrative director of pharmacy at Silver Cross.
The hospital has worked with the Will County Health Department, which acts as a middleman to get vaccines to providers, as well as school districts and community organizations to find eligible recipients.
“It really is kind of a team effort,” Butler said.
The hospital is also well equipped to handle the complex process of not just administering shots, but also storing the doses, some of which need extremely low temperatures for safekeeping. The hospital invested in a deep freezer to store vaccines.
Silver Cross has the nurses to inject patients and the physicians to monitor if anyone has a bad reaction.
Debra Robbins, a spokeswoman for Silver Cross, said the hospital has also begun vaccinating residents age 65 and up. Last week, about 800 older residents received a vaccine at Silver Cross.
Butler said the hospital first started with patients who already have a history with Silver Cross to offer them the vaccine, but they’re starting to broaden the efforts.
Several entities in Will County have been working to vaccinate residents in recent weeks.
The Joliet Fire Department and a doctor from AMITA Health set up a clinic at Joliet West High School. The Will County Health Department has also been vaccinating older residents at its facility in Joliet, though public health officials stress the effort will take time with an insufficient supply of doses.
There has been good news recently with Will County seeing its lowest COVID-19 test positivity rate since last summer. Robbins said this week, Silver Cross has fewer than 20 COVID-19 patients, much lower than when it saw 125 patients as cases surged late last fall.
But an end to the pandemic will require more vaccinations.
With tens of thousands of older residents registering with the county health department, Butler said the clinic at Silver Cross will be operating through April.
“It’s going to be an ongoing thing,” he said. “As long as there’s demand for our clinics, we’re going to be offering our services.”