From HSHS Press Release
(BREESE, IL) – Yesterday, December 16, 2020, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Breese administered the first COVID-19 vaccine dose to hospital colleague Mary Fitzgerald, RN, from the hospital’s emergency department. All vaccines were administered smoothly and safely. The doses were administered to clinical colleagues providing direct patient care, all of who voluntarily consented to receive the vaccine. At this time, Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) is not requiring its colleagues to receive the vaccination, although they are recommending colleagues receive the vaccine when it is available to them. HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital will be following the CDC guidelines to determine during which phases their colleagues will receive the vaccine. Locally, they will continue to work closely with the Clinton County Health Department.
Fitzgerald shared why she wanted to get the vaccine. “I chose to get the vaccine because I want to keep my family and patients safe. I hope having the vaccine will help us get back to some normalcy sooner than if we didn’t have this available to us.” Dr. Brian Klostermann, HSHS Medical Group family and sports medicine physician in Highland and Breese, was the first physician to be vaccinated at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Breese.
He shared, “I wanted to get vaccinated because I believe the vaccine is safe and a huge step in our progress back to a normal existence. I want my children to be able to see their grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins without fear of a virus. I want to see the smile of a friend without a mask, and to give a hug without reservation.”
“This pandemic is like nothing we have experienced in health care, from a near complete halt of care back in the spring, to our ever-evolving knowledge about the virus. This has been the most trying year of my career, and something I hope to never experience again,” Dr. Klostermann shared. “This vaccination is our opportunity to move forward, past the restrictions at schools, businesses, churches and gatherings. I believe that the vaccine is safe, my family will be getting the vaccine when available to them and I hope our community takes the opportunity, when available, to get the vaccine.”
HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Breese Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Vinay Bhooma shared, “This is an exciting time for our hospital as we are thrilled to be able to provide an additional level of protection for our colleagues who continue to provide exceptional and compassionate patient care in the midst of this pandemic. It is the first of many steps to come, but the journey begins with one step,” he said. “We are grateful to have this a tool in our tool chest to combat this virus.” St. Joseph’s Hospital still encourages people to do their part to decrease the number of COVID cases in the community. “Even though some doses of the vaccine have arrived, and more will be coming, we want to remind the community that the pandemic is not over,” Bhooma said. “We must continue to be diligent with hand washing, social distancing, masking and staying home when we are ill. For those who need care, we are always here so we are also encouraging community members to not delay their care.”