Former Heddington Oaks nursing home to be temporarily re-purposed as COVID-19 vaccination site

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WEST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Local health officials are hoping a new initiative will help vaccinate more of the population while keeping COVID-19 cases trending downward.

During the tri-county area’s weekly health press conference Tuesday, both Peoria city and county health officials announced the former Heddington Oaks nursing home in West Peoria will be used as a site to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The former nursing home is now vacant after the county closed the facility a few months back and voted to sell it in November.

Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson said there are a lot of healthcare providers outside of the hospital system and health officials want to get them vaccinated as soon as possible.

“With that, we opened up what is known as a closed point of dispensing — or a closed pod,” Hendrickson said.

She said the facility will be used as a hub to first vaccinate those who are in group 1a for vaccination distribution. Hendrickson said in addition to frontline healthcare workers who live in Peoria County, this site is for those who don’t work in hospitals such as EMS workers, clinical facility staff, and dentists.

Peoria County Administrator Scott Sorrel said the facility will be used as a hub for at least two months where they hope they can eventually vaccinate those outside of group 1a.

“We hope to continue to use this facility as a closed pod for a period of time where we can also get into the 1b group as well which will be essential workers in the community,” Sorrel said.

Hendrickson said both Woodford and Tazewell county will offer a closed pod site for COVID-19 vaccines at a later date. She also said Heartland Health Services and Advance Medical Transport will assist in running the site.

She said due to county allotment both OSF Healthcare and UnityPoint received more vaccine shipments. OSF HealthCare received 4,900 from Peoria and UnityPoint got 2,000 from Peoria and 1,000 more doses from Tazewell County.

Dr. Gregg Stoner, Heartland Health Services Chief Medical Officer, received his first dose Moderna vaccine during the press conference.  He said he felt no immediate negative reactions to the vaccine and recommends the public get vaccinated when eligible.

“I really encourage people to do this,” Stoner said. “It is safe, it is effective, there’s no microchip injected, there are none of these conspiracy kinds of things out there.”

Additionally, Hendrickson said the downward trend for COVID-19 cases continues for the tri-county area. She said the 7-day average has gone down by 100 cases from 279 to 179.

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