Urgent vaccine distribution response
It should come as no surprise that Haymarket Center is in a unique position with regard to vaccine distribution. Our facility is distinguished by the extraordinary risk that the pandemic poses to our patients and staff. Like the hospitals and skilled nursing facilities that are the City’s top priority for receiving vaccines, our residential treatment programs serve hundreds of patients at very high risk every week—including much-experiencing homelessness. Our programs are staffed by physicians, physician assistants, nurses, medical assistants, and other front-line workers.
Through our successful advocacy to make sure our patients and staff have vaccine access, we have been able to collaborate with the Chicago Department of Public Health and Walgreens to bring vaccine resources on site.
We are proud to report we have achieved a very impressive vaccination rate at Haymarket Center. As of the first week in March, 82 percent of our residential patients and staff have now received the vaccine. We are hearing that this rate exceeds the norm for area hospitals and residential facilities by about 20 percentage points.
Our approach has involved two equally important strategies: first, assuring access to the vaccine, and second, respecting the need for each patient and staff member to come to their own informed decision as to whether to vaccinate.
One of several critical steps taken by Haymarket Center was to encourage staff to engage through a series of town hall style events with physicians, including our Medical Director Dr. Michael Baldinger, Psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Tilkin, Haymarket Board Member, Dr. William Martin, III, and south suburban internist, Dr. Lenny Robinson. While attesting to the safety and importance of the vaccine, the doctors encouraged staff to explore their doubts and deepen their knowledge so that they could come to their own conclusions about the vaccine.
As CEO Dr. Dan Lustig noted, “both access to the vaccine and access to information are critical as Haymarket Center continues to its provision of outstanding medical and behavioral health care for some of the most disadvantaged residents of city and region.”