With a swifter response, “we could have had more nursing home residents vaccinated more effectively four to six weeks earlier,” said Dr. Michael Wasserman, a geriatrician and past president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine. “That’s a lot of deaths that could have been prevented.”
Future business students may scrutinize this plan for years. “This was never going to be easy, with 30,000-plus facilities and millions of residents and staff,” Dr. Grabowski said. “States and the federal government were happy to push this over to the private sector.”
Early on, facility administrators grappled with cumbersome consent forms, a problem that has since been resolved. CVS and Walgreens executives also report having to contact some facilities multiple times simply to schedule clinics.
Administrators, for their part, questioned the three-visit plan. How would these clinics reach staff members who worked night and weekend shifts? Or newly admitted residents, those returning from hospitals and those who were discharged after only one dose? The C.D.C. is reportedly working on a transition plan.
Moreover, although the chains post updated numbers daily, “we don’t have the level of information we’d like, even now,” said Tricia Neuman, executive director of the Program on Medicare Policy at Kaiser Family Foundation. The aggregate numbers don’t show which facilities the companies visited or the proportions of residents and staff members they vaccinated.
Residents have responded enthusiastically. The C.D.C. has estimated that during the program’s first month, in nursing homes with clinics, a median 77.8 percent of residents received their first doses.
“People who live in nursing homes would do just about anything to reconnect with the outside world and the people they love,” said Dr. Kathleen Unroe, a geriatrician at the Indiana University School of Medicine who also practices at Northwest Manor, a nursing home in Indianapolis.