Lakeland leading the way in vaccinating homebound patients

NOW: Lakeland leading the way in vaccinating homebound patients

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NILES, Mich. -- For people who are homebound – whether that be through disability, compromised health, or even being a caregiver – getting the vaccine has been a challenge.

But, Spectrum Health Lakeland has been working to bring that care right to people’s homes, and nurses are taking the extra time to make sure patients know their health is prioritized.

“As we grew and expanded, we needed more help from nurses,” said Sam Felton, Manager of Supporting Care Services at Caring Circle.

When the vaccine first became available nationwide, health officials had to spring into action to meet the demand of the highly enthusiastic group that was eligible, but over time, a group of people just as medically vulnerable were feeling forgotten.

Spectrum Health Lakeland’s Caring Circle had already been reaching out to their patients about in-home vaccination, but realized they were going to need more help.

“The first time the idea came to me was when I was trying to get my father, who’s 94, in for his vaccine and when I realized how many medical people you’re going to need to give the shots, I just thought there’s not going to be enough, so, I may not have given a bed bath in a long time but I can still give a shot,” said Judy Hamel, a volunteer nurse with Caring Circle.

Hamel, a retired nurse, was instrumental in the rollout.

With decades of experience in home care, she knew how daunting of a task attending a vaccine clinic could be. 

“Some would have to be with an ambulance, they can’t get out of bed, some can’t even get in there with a wheelchair,” she said. “Some of these people are very sick, but they don’t want to get COVID-19 on top of it, they want to see their grandchildren or even get out of the house.”

Caring Circle has fully vaccinated over 1,200 patients and caregivers so far, but won’t stop until no one is left behind.

“We know there are more people out there we can help, it’s just a matter of identifying these folks,” said Felton.

Any patient or caregiver in hospice, palliative, or home-based primary care can contact Caring Circle for an in-home vaccination by calling 269-429-7100 or going to their website.

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