Coronavirus vaccinations have begun at the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s retirement facility in Woodland Hills, and will begin on Monday at The Actors Fund Home in Englewood, NJ. Both of the entertainment industry’s retirement homes were hit hard in the early months of the pandemic, where the MPTF facility saw the deaths of six residents and The Actors Fund Home saw the deaths of 10.
The experience of the residents and essential staff on receiving the vaccine “is one of total joy, relief, and elation,” said MPTF president and CEO Bob Beitcher. “It’s a great unburdening of frustrations. But we realize that this is not the end. We’re still wearing masks and social distancing, knowing that the vaccine is not 100% effective. We’ll keep on protecting our residents and staff, but this really does feel like the end of the beginning.”
“We are very excited,” said Joe Benincasa, president and CEO of The Actors Fund. “On Monday, we begin vaccinating residents and staff.”
At the MPTF’s skilled nursing home in the Valley, which is home to 240 industry retirees, administration of the first round of 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine began on Dec. 23 for residents, care-givers and essential staff. But the life-saving shots arrived too late to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak there in November and December, which saw the death of one more resident and the infection of 12 others, all but one of whom has since recovered after being placed in the facility’s isolation ward. Second doses of the Moderna vaccine will be given later this month.
Beginning Jan. 14, the Pfizer vaccine will be given to the rest of the MPTF home’s residents and essential staff who come in frequent contact with residents. A second round of those shots will be administered 21 days later, administered by CVS Pharmacy because the Pfizer vaccine requires storage at much colder temperatures than the Moderna vaccine.
“By the end of the program, everyone on campus will have been vaccinated, except for administrative staff who don’t come into contact with residents,” said Beitcher, who noted that the roll-out has been “choppy.”
“There’s a lot of complicated paperwork,” he said. “There’s a lot of pre-registration and registration, and complexity around older residents who need family authorizations. It’s choppy, but we’re getting through it. I’m feeling very positive and optimistic.” Beitcher, who has also received the vaccine, said that he has been tested 15 times for the virus – each one negative.
Benincasa, meanwhile, said that there have been no new cases of Covid-19 among the staff and 140 residents at The Actors Fund Home since April. “In New Jersey, we are pleased with the vaccine roll-out,” he said. “Governor Phil Murphy’s leadership and our partnership with Walgreen has been reassuring, and we are really happy to begin vaccinations on Monday.”
Over at The Actors Fund’s Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, which is a partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital, doctors and staff began signing up for vaccinations yesterday, Benincasa said, “and we hope they are vaccinated in the next few days.
“In New York City at the Friedman Health Care Center, our partnership with Mount Sinai has offered the kind of good guidance we are fortunate to enjoy.”
And in Los Angeles, he said, “The care demonstrated by our staff for residents at The Palm View in West Hollywood is remarkable, where not one resident contracted Covid through a complicated $10.4 million renovation.” The Palm View is a 40-unit apartment complex that provides homes to low-income people with special needs.
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