HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Westminster Canterbury of Richmond says they are “frustrated and extremely disappointed” after a clinic to vaccinate roughly 525 senior citizens was abruptly canceled by CVS. The facility says CVS agreed to vaccinate their independent living residents in mid-February.
“We know that you are shocked and disappointed to hear this news. Our team that has been working tirelessly on the vaccination details is certainly feeling the same way, but we are not done working to find a solution for you. Please know that we have been and will continue advocating for you with all our energies,” said CEO John Burns in an online blog to residents on Tuesday.
“We have additional calls scheduled today and tomorrow where we hope to learn more about possible other partnerships. At this time, we have no confidence that CVS will fulfill their obligation to us as CVS has not worked with us in good faith,” Burns wrote.
Under a federal agreement, CVS was contracted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to vaccinate Skilled Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities. However, that agreement does not include Independent Living Facilities, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Westminster Canterbury of Richmond has several different functions under one roof, including assisted living, skilled nursing, and independent living. Those in assisted living and skilled nursing do qualify under the federal agreement with CVS. They have already received their first doses, according to Burns.
So what “agreement” has CVS allegedly broken?
A spokesperson for the pharmacy group, Tara Burke, said though they are not required to, they will vaccinate residents in independent living facilities on a “case by case basis”. However, Burke would not expand on why Westminster Canterbury was convinced that their independent living residents were guaranteed vaccines in mid-February.
On that, Burns said “as the program has been implemented, most continuing care retirement communities around Virginia, especially those that are smaller than Westminster Canterbury Richmond, were able to get residents and staff at all levels of care vaccinated through the partnership, despite the fact that Independent Living was not supposed to be included.”
VDH says they are working with local health districts and local pharmacies to arrange vaccinations for residents, like those in independent living facilities.
However, Burns said the Richmond and Henrico health department is tasked with vaccinating thousands of people at 51 other independent living communities as well. He worries about how long that may take.
“Westminster Canterbury Richmond has been transparent about our numbers in the different levels of care and has advocated aggressively for our Independent Living residents to be included in this partnership. CVS confirmed a vaccination clinic for February 15 and 16 that we have been promoting. Assisted Living residents and employees who received their first doses this week will be able to receive second doses on February 15-16,” Burns wrote.
He said the residents are now at the mercy of “other partnerships” and the local health department.
“They have said they plan to start vaccinating in Independent Livings later this week, but we do not know how long it will take for them to get to us yet. They are using resident age and outbreak data to determine where to go first. Our residents and employees have done a great job of proceeding with an abundance of caution, and we have avoided an outbreak in Independent Living,” Burns said.