Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey (LSMNJ) is helping older adults register and receive the COVID-19 vaccine despite technological hurdles.
Currently, residents and workers of long-term care and high-risk congregate care facilities in New Jersey fall under “Group 1a,” and are therefore eligible for vaccination. By the state’s definition, this group includes residents of skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and personal care homes. However, older adults enrolled in the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) were initially excluded from the priority list. Despite their eligibility for nursing home care, PACE participants in most cases remain in the community and receive comprehensive medical and social services outside of a long-term care facility.
LSMNJ bridged this gap, working with the state and hospital association to obtain vaccinations for PACE participants. Then, when it became clear what technological requirements might prevent PACE participants from registering - internet access and an email address - LSMNJ completed the process for them.
They have also made vaccination easy for their affordable housing residents through community-wide clinics. As of last week, 66 percent of LSMNJ affordable senior housing residents - 375 seniors - have received the vaccine in their own apartment building. In a video posted to the LSMNJ website, residents Walter and Lorraine Flynn pointed out the excellent and proactive care staff have taken to keep residents healthy. Walter acknowledges that seniors in other communities are still waiting online to receive the vaccine, and states, “We didn’t have to wait online. We were given the time and we got our shot… They saved our lives.” Lorraine added, “We’re very lucky to be in the hands of the Lutheran social ministry, because a lot of people haven’t gotten their vaccines yet.”
Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey is a member of Lutheran Services in America, a network of more than 300 health and human service organizations providing services in over 1,400 communities in the U.S. Learn more about Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey on their website, www.lsmnj.org.
By Emily Gross, Senior Manager of Program Development and Outreach