House calls helping homebound residents become vaccinated in Lake, Cook counties

Coronavirus

LAKE COUNTY, Ill. – Seniors and other residents in Lake County, who were unable to leave their homes, are becoming vaccinated against COVID-19 through a unique push by health officials.

The county is bringing shots to them.

Harry Leventhal and his wife Lois have been married for 52 years, but Wednesday marked another milestone in their story – her COVID-19 vaccination.

Leventhal says his wife suffered a stroke that left her unable to walk. With the threat of COVID-19 lingering, it was paramount that Lois’ shot came to her.

Lois Leventhal gets her COVID-19 vaccination shot

Roshani Patel, owner of Prime Care Physicians, a home health care company, says in addition to treating her 2,000 regular patients, she’s partnering with Cook County and Lake County to make vaccine house calls.

“We vaccinated some people who are quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down, some people who were on ventilators,” she said. “There is no way they would have gotten a vaccine if we weren’t able to come to their home.”

She says limited resources and logistical challenges, especially with the 2-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, make it tough.

“We have to stick to that same route, same number of patients,” Patel said. “Like, if we vaccinate eight people today, three weeks from now, those eight people have to agree to be vaccinated.”

Wednesday’s doses from Lake County’s Health Department are Johnson and Johnson, which Patel says frees up much-needed time.

“Now that we have some supply of Johnson and Johnson coming in, we’re able to equip these mobile units in the county to go out and reach some of those hard-to-reach individuals and communities,” said Hannah Goering with Lake County Health Department.

Not all counties in the Chicago area have started vaccinating people who are homebound. Will County tells WGN News its homebound vaccination program will be dependent on wider availability of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

DuPage County says it’s working on several options for homebound people, including equipping EMTs and firefighters with doses. A statement read, in part, “DCHD is partnering with various healthcare providers and pharmacies, including those who currently provide care to homebound patients, to ensure they have access to vaccine and staff resources to administer vaccines to individuals in their homes.” 

Cook County and Chicago already have programs up-and-running, but the demand is high.

We are expanding all our mobile operations to meet the needs of this and other populations that may lack mobility. Homebound residents or their caretakers may call  833-308-1988 to register to receive a vaccine.  CCDPH will call back at a future date to either collect more information or schedule a dose.”

Cook County Health officials

“I’m getting lists of patients even from Chicago because their list is months long,” Patel adds. “It’s challenging, but I know that what we’re doing, it’s making a difference for a lot of people and that’s pretty much what keeps us going.”

Roshani Patel

Her work has made a difference, especially for the Leventhals, who both survived COVID-19 hospitalizations in December.

“It’s everything,” Harry Leventhal said. “I mean, it means a lot.”

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