CORNWALL, N.Y. (December 23, 2020) – Cornerstone Family Healthcare is pleased to announce that it has started administering its first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to its staff on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at the Kaplan Family Pavilion in Newburgh, N.Y.
The first doses of the vaccine were given to Dr. Alban Burke, Chief of Dentistry at Cornerstone Family Healthcare; Noelle Ziemins, Family Nurse Practitioner and Cornerstone’s Chief of Urgent Care; and Enrique Bullon, a Medical Interpreter at Cornerstone.
“To be at this phase, is very exciting. It’s almost a sense of relief,” shard Ziemins. “With all the research that’s been done and the information that’s out there, you can make an informed decision to get the vaccine and feel safe doing so.”
“Everyone is nervous at the beginning of something,” shared Bullon. “It is important to get the vaccine, not only to protect myself, but to protect other people as well.”
“I’m incredibly proud of the entire Cornerstone team,” shared Linda Muller, President and CEO of Cornerstone Family Healthcare. “They have shown tremendous bravery, courage and compassion during these unprecedented times. I’m excited to say that we are one step closer to claiming victory over this pandemic.”
Cornerstone Family Healthcare received a total of 1,800 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in this first phase of distribution. Studies have shown the Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID 19 through a two-dose injection, administered three weeks apart. It was authorized by the FDA and approved unanimously by the Clinical Advisory Task Force on December 18, 2020.
Cornerstone has been planning and preparing to receive COVID-19 vaccines for weeks. “I’m thrilled that the vaccine is here and have full confidence in the science behind it,” said Dr. Avi Silber, Chief Medical Officer at Cornerstone Family Healthcare. “We are prepared to do our part to educate and protect our employees, patients and community from the threat of COVID-19.”
The COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available to the general public. Based on guidance by the CDC and New York State Department of Health, the first New Yorkers to receive the vaccine will be high-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff), nursing home residents, nursing home staff, followed by all long-term and congregate care residents and staff, EMS workers, other health care workers, coroners and medical examiners.
“It’s important to understand that even though we are in the initial stages of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, we are not in the clear yet,” Dr. Silber continued. “We’re seeing a post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the United States and anticipate that number will only continue to get higher after the holidays.”
Cornerstone urges the community continues to continue taking the necessary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19: wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth; stay at least 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with; limit gatherings with others who are not in your immediate household; avoid indoor gatherings; and wash your hands often.
Since March 2020, Cornerstone has tested more than 8,000 people and cared for more than 2,000 COVID-positive patients in the community—with a focus on the most vulnerable and at-risk members of our community. Cornerstone will continue to keep its patients and community informed as vaccines become more widely available to the general public, based on the recommendations and guidelines from state and federal public health officials.
For additional information, please visit:
- New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Program
- CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Information
- Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Recipient Overview
- 8 Facts About the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccine Program
Now that there are authorized and recommended vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States, here are 8 things you need to know about the new COVID-19 Vaccination Program and COVID-19 vaccines.
1. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority.
The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Learn how federal partners are working together to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
CDC has developed a new tool, v-safe, as an additional layer of safety monitoring to increase our ability to rapidly detect any safety issues with COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe is a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines.
2. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. Two doses are needed.
Depending on the specific vaccine you get, a second shot 3-4 weeks after your first shot is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer against this serious disease. Learn more about the benefits of getting vaccinated.
3. CDC is making recommendations for who should be offered COVID-19 vaccine first when supplies are limited.
To help guide decisions about how to distribute limited initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccine, CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have published recommendations for which groups should be vaccinated first.
Learn more about who should be vaccinated first when vaccine supplies are limited.
4. There is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, but supply will increase in the months to come.
The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as large enough quantities are available. Once vaccine is widely available, the plan is to have several thousand vaccination providers offering COVID-19 vaccines in doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.
5. After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection.
The side effects from COVID-19 vaccination may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about what side effects to expect and get helpful tips on how to reduce pain and discomfort after your vaccination.
6. Cost is not an obstacle to getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot. Vaccination providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
7. The first COVID-19 vaccine is being used under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many other vaccines are still being developed and tested.
If more COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved by FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will quickly hold public meetings to review all available data about each vaccine and make recommendations for their use in the United States. Learn more about how CDC is making COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.
All ACIP-recommended vaccines will be included in the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program. CDC continues to work at all levels with partners, including healthcare associations, on a flexible COVID-19 vaccination program that can accommodate different vaccines and adapt to different scenarios. State, tribal, local, and territorial health departments have developed distribution plans to make sure all recommended vaccines are available to their communities.
8. COVID-19 vaccines are one of many important tools to help us stop this pandemic.
It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often.
We will continue to update this website as vaccine recommendations and supply change.
Last Updated Dec. 22, 2020
Blog by Robert Hixon, BSN,RN, AEC, Lead Nurse Primary & Preventative Care
The coming of winter in the northeast is evidenced by gray skies, falling temperatures and a chilling wind. These changes often encourage us to retreat back into the warmth and safety of our homes. However, this winter, much like this entire past year, has been quite different. Across the globe, all human beings have been touched by the same unyielding reality. This reality caused many of us to seek shelter, long before the onset of cold weather, to wear masks on our face before harsh winds came in, and to cause fear of the unknown.
COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus) is certainly a name that is known by everyone at this point. As a nurse, my colleagues and I have swabbed more than 7,500 people over the last several months, collecting specimens that are then tested for COVID-19. More than testing, we have listened to our patients’ stories. So many families just in our local community have been effected by this virus in devastating ways—ways that have literally reshaped their families. I want to remind this community and others, the resilience you have shown under the incomprehensible situations many of you faced is nothing short of inspiring. Your ability to push on and keep moving forward through illness and uncertainty is a testament to our community’s indomitable spirit.
When speaking with these families, one theme emerged as more prevalent than any other. The word that best describes this sentiment is helplessness—the sense that beyond wearing masks and isolating, what can we do to fight back? This new virus seems to have confounded many of our brightest minds, creating more questions than answers. While specialized medical teams comprised of virologists, epidemiologists, immunologists, and the like diligently work towards an end to this pandemic, what do we, as individuals, do? Many medical experts speculate an effective vaccine against COVID-19 may come around the end of spring 2021. That means it could be well into the summer before we may start to return to something that resembles a pre-COVID world, if ever.
I have thought and reflected on the feelings of my community and of my own family. As many nurses and medical staff can attest, the concerns of our patients often resonate with us, long after our encounter in the office. This idea that we are helpless and we have no proactive way to respond to our current situation is not accurate. Among the few things we know for sure about COVID-19 is that those with chronic illness or a weakened immune system have significantly increased risk of poor outcomes if they become infected. Some of these risk factors can and should be addressed in order to greatly reduce the risk of a severe illness and poor health outcomes.
Through various processes, COVID-19 is able to attack our lungs, often resulting in a type of pneumonia. This pneumonia impairs gas exchange, which is our bodies’ primary mode of expelling waste (carbon dioxide) and delivering energy (via oxygen). This process, cellular respiration, is imperative for normal body function as well as healing. Viruses, such as COVID-19, can increase our natural inflammatory process, causing excessive immune response. While COVID-19 presents risks to healthy individuals, the body’s responses to the virus are amplified by certain comorbidities.
Some of the most severe COVID-sensitive comorbidities—which also happen to be among the most prevalent in the communities Cornerstone serves—include COPD, heart conditions, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and asthma, as well as being over the age of 65. The good news is community health centers such as Cornerstone are in an ideal position to address these comorbidities. Reducing these risk factors through routine care and vaccination can significantly lower your susceptibility to poor outcomes, should you contract COVID-19.
We have adopted a method which mitigates risk while addressing the needs of our communities during these turbulent times. This proactive approach addresses reducing risk of contracting the virus, as well as promoting best outcomes for those who do. The CDC, WHO and our local Department of Health, among others, all emphasize the importance of managing chronic health conditions and routine vaccinations to maintain overall health and help avoid the risk of major complications if you are exposed to COVID-19. With our communities in mind, let’s review some vaccines that may be most beneficial:
Based on public health data for our area, it is likely that many who are reading this article live with conditions such as asthma, liver or lung disease, and/or diabetes. If you smoke cigarettes or are just older than 65, you might want to inquire about pneumococcal vaccines. There are currently two pneumococcal vaccines (PCV 13) and (PPSV23). If indicated, these vaccines can drastically reduce your risk of pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and even some types of meningitis.
Shingles and Seasonal Influenza Vaccines
If you believe you have had chicken pox and/or you live in this region during flu season, you may want to review the benefits of both the shingles and seasonal influenza vaccines. Those who have had chicken pox, if it was decades ago, might not realize they are presently living with a shingles virus. That virus can come to the surface as a painful rash, brought on by stress, illness or another variable. This virus can leave you with pain and burning in your nerves known as post-herpetic neuropathy.
Finally, we are entering influenza season. While some may liken the flu to a common cold, those inflicted know this is not the case. The flu hospitalizes hundreds of thousands during a modest influenza season. These numbers are expected to be dwarfed if flu and COVID-19 surge simultaneously.
In conjunction with immunizations, ensuring certain health conditions are well managed is a central tenet of our plan for community health and well-being. Tight control of diabetes, hypertension, asthma and others are critical to our patients’ safety. This can be accomplished by ensuring medications supplies are available for a minimum of 30 days. Patients should understand symptoms and changes in their condition and have a plan of action if this occurs. Asthmatics should have an asthma action plan and understand how and when to administer their medications. Finally, patients and providers should explore their comfort levels and needs and decide what is required to achieve patients’ health goals.
It can be easy at times to become transfixed on those things which loom so large. They can take over your thoughts and make it difficult to focus on what is in front of you. For many of us, COVID-19 has become one of those things. Reflecting on those 7,500 patients and of our shared experiences over the last several months leaves me with a distinct feeling. However, it isn’t one of sadness or helplessness. It is pride in the values that our community has exhibited—spirit, strength, appreciate and optimism—that has stayed with me. It is our hope that these same qualities are reflected in the care you receive from Cornerstone Family Healthcare.
Wearing a face mask is more important than ever as our community continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Wearing a face mask can save lives,” shared Dr. Avi Silber, Chief Medical Officer at Cornerstone Family Healthcare. “When you practice physical distancing, wash your hands frequently and wear a face mask when social distancing is not possible, you are doing your part to stop the spread of the virus. We encourage everyone to wear a face mask to support our medical workers, help prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 in our community, and keep local businesses open.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures – 6 feet or more, indoors or outdoors – are difficult to maintain. Cloth face masks are not required or recommended by the CDC for children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove the mask without assistance.
How To Wear a Face Mask
Face coverings should be placed over the mouth and nose, allowing for breathing without any restriction, and fit snug – but comfortably – against the side of your face. It should completely cover both your nose and mouth. Follow these tips to properly use a face mask:
- Always wash your hands before putting on your face covering.
- Do not touch the front of the mask. If you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
- Use the ear loops or ties to put your mask on and take it off.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing.
- If you live in an apartment or shared space, put your mask on and take it off when your inside your home. Elevators and stairwells can be high-contamination areas.
- Wash and dry cloth masks daily.
- Disposable paper face masks should be used for one outing outside the home. They cannot be properly cleaned.
Masks with Exhalation Valves or Vents
Masks with exhalation valves or vents should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others, according to the CDC. The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. However, masks with one-way valves or vents allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets that can reach others. This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others. Click here to learn more.
How to Make A Face Mask at Home
Professional masks should be reserved for health care workers on the front lines caring for patients. Simple cloth face coverings can be made at home and may help prevent the spread of COVID-19. There are many local shops where you can purchase cloth masks or you can make one at home following these simple instructions from the CDC –https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html
If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or muscle aches – please call Cornerstone Family Healthcare at (845) 563-8000. Our staff will help determine if you need to be seen and provide you with instructions for seeking medical care. If one of our physicians determine that you need to be tested for COVID-19, you will be sent to a site and asked to let them know when you’ve arrived by phone. Patients generally remain in their cars for evaluation and drive-up testing in order to best protect other patients and our staff. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.
- CDC Information on Wearing Face Masks – https://bit.ly/39GCoZa
- A User’s Guide to Face Masks – https://nyti.ms/32EEQ2q
- For Important Coronavirus Updates and Information – including symptoms, steps to prevent illness, guidance for public gatherings, and common questions – please visit https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/