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High-volume vaccine site opens in Auburn Mall

From CMH

 AUBURN – The new regional high-volume COVID-19 vaccination site launched by Central Maine Healthcare, the City of Auburn, the City of Lewiston and the State of Maine vaccinated its first patients last week as operations began at the Auburn Mall.

“It’s been absolutely phenomenal how the community came together with determination and enthusiasm for this cause,” said Jeffrey L. Brickman, FACHE, president and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare. “Together, we are amping up our vaccination efforts to protect even more Maine people from the coronavirus. It’s a wonderful day that turns the page in our fight against this pandemic.”

Lynn Cummings, 61, of Lewiston, receives her first injection for the CoVID-19 vaccination at the new high-volume vaccination site opened in Center Court of the Auburn Mall last week. (Photo courtesy of CMH)

After its ramp up, the site aims to vaccinate 1,000 people each day of operation – or 4,000 per week – as vaccine supplies allow. The site is expected to operate for six months.

Amy Lee, Chief Operating Officer for the medical group for Central Maine Healthcare said she has “an amazing team of people who are supporting this, and having been working on this very hard for quite a few months!”

 At any given time, there will be about 60 people working at the clinic, with from 20 to 40 volunteers, and the rest being CMH staff members, Lee said.

“The vaccinations, for the most part, are done by our staff,” she said, with the State of Maine providing some nurses to help. “We also have community volunteers, like doctors and nursing staff” who are helping with the vaccinations.

Central Maine Healthcare President and CEO Jeffrey L. Brickman, FACHE, (center) cuts the ribbon for the high-volume vaccination site opened by the health system, the City of Auburn, the City of Lewiston and the State of Maine on Wednesday. From left to right: John Alexander, MD, MHCM, FACEP, CMH chief medical officer; Brickman; Steven G. Littleson, DBA, FACHE, senior vice president of operations, CMH, and president, Central Maine Medical Center; Amy E. Lee, MBA, MBHA, MJ, FACMPE, vice president and chief operating officer, Central Maine Medical Group, CMH. (Photo courtesy of CMH)

Central Maine Healthcare has so far administrated 21,028 doses of vaccine at its hospital-based vaccine clinics. The partnerships around the high-volume vaccination site extends resources to increase volume and expands the reach. CMH exceeded its own expectations a couple of weeks ago when it was able to vaccinate around 1,100 people in one day at the hospital facility in Lewiston.

The high-volume site in Lewiston, which serves the central Maine area, has moved from the Central Maine Medical Center facility to the mall, while the sites at the Bridgton and Rumford hospitals remain in place.

Vaccinations will take place at the Center Court of the Auburn Mall. The entrance will be through the south entrance, near Thatcher’s.

Stores in the mall will be open to customers, with entrance on the north side of the mall. The clinic has been segregated from mall traffic.

“Since the pandemic began, I have watched our community pull together to fight this thing head-on. And as a community, we have shown unity, strength and resilience,” said Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque. “A strong community partnership brought this vaccination site to fruition, and that partnership will make a truly meaningful difference in people’s lives. My sincere thanks to the team at Central Maine Healthcare, to the City of Lewiston and to St. Mary’s for working to make this site possible.”

On Wednesday last week, the partners, community leaders and volunteers gathered at the mall to mark the site’s first day with a ribbon cutting and a tour before operations began. On the first day of operations, all 312 available appointments were filled. The number of appointments is based on vaccine availability.

“I am pleased that the residents of the LA region will now have access to this life-saving vaccine through a local high-volume vaccination site,” said Lewiston Mayor Mark A. Cayer. “It is yet another example of community partners working together for the health and well-being of our residents. I encourage folks to take advantage of this public health opportunity.”

Lynn Cummings, 61, of Lewiston, and Steve Damien, 67, of Auburn, were the first two people vaccinated Wednesday of last week, opening day of the high-vaccination site launched by Central Maine Healthcare, the City of Auburn, the City of Lewiston and the State of Maine at the Auburn Mall. Cummings, a Lewiston resident who has a business making handicrafts, said she looks forward to the time when people will be able to socialize again. “It will be nice to be with friends and family without worrying,” she said.  Getting the vaccine himself provides some peace of mind, said Damien, a public works worker, adding, “If everybody has it, that is really peace of mind.” (Photo courtesy of CMH)

The clinic will be open 8 a.m.-6 p.m., with bookings for appointments dependent on the availability of vaccines. Currently, CMH only has the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but expects to use the Janssen vaccine from Johnson & Johnson when it becomes available, Lee said.

Patients receiving the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine must get their booster shots at the same location they received the initial injection.

In addition to operating the site at the mall, community partners are coordinating to ensure that vaccination efforts reach all members of the community. Central Maine Healthcare and leaders from Auburn, Lewiston and the State of Maine are working with Androscoggin County Emergency Management Agency, St. Mary’s Health System, Tri-County EMS, the National Guard and the Auburn Mall.

“This high-volume community vaccination clinic helps get shots into the arms of Maine people as quickly and fairly as possible,” said Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav D. Shah, MD, JD. “As we await more doses coming to Maine from the federal government, we stand ready to vaccinate more residents in Lewiston-Auburn, western Maine and throughout the state. We thank our partners involved in this important effort to protect the health of Maine people.”

Volunteers, both clinical and non-clinical, and donations, both financial and in-kind, can support COVID-19 efforts such as the high-volume site. Please visit cmhc.org/how-to-help for more information.

Information about the vaccination clinic, along with links for making an appointment, can be found on the CMH website at cmhc.org/get-covid-vaccine/ . Appointments may also be made by phone at (207) 520-2917.

Maine DHHS is offering free transportation to anyone needing a ride to a vaccination appointment. Managed by ModivCare (formerly LogistiCare), with contracts to CAPs & other agencies, individuals with vaccine apppointments can schedule rides Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling 1-855-608-5172

Patients must call at least 48 hours before their vaccine appt. Drivers will leave patients for the appointment, and return in about 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

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