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Northwest Florida Community Hospital gets COVID Vaccine

K. William Boyer
Washington County News

CHIPLEY - In a momentous occasion at Northwest Florida Community Hospital, the first round of vaccines for the COVID-19 virus were delivered to the community, bringing with them relief to the communities of Washington and Holmes Counties. 

Michael Kozar, CEO of NFCH, said  the vaccines were the the power to people.  

"For more than 50 years vaccinations have saved more than a billion lives and prevented countless illnesses in the United States," Kozar said.  "The COVID-19 Vaccine is the tool that we have to stop the spread of the virus, reduce the infection rate, reduce hospitalizations, and ultimately deaths associated with the virus!" 

Hospital Pharmacist David Eaton, presents COVID -19 Vaccines to Chief Executive Officer Michael Kozar, and COO, Janet Kinney, CNO Connie Swearingen, and CFO Steven Lisenby.
Shots administered to Sarah Thomas, RN, Emergency Department Director, Michael Kozar, CEO and Dr. Annette Porter, Hospitalist and ER Physician.

Kozar said the the vaccine will not eliminate the virus but is a step to continue to make progress in controlling the pandemic. He said everyone should continue to be diligent in protecting ourselves and others, continuing to wear mask, social distance, and practice good handwashing.

As the hospital begins to administer the vaccine, Kozar said the CDC has set fourth guidelines for administration of the vaccine, beginning with healthcare workers and long term care residents. After those are vaccinated and CDC designates, the hospital will move to the next tier, which includes essential workers including non- healthcare, adults with medical conditions who are at higher risk, and adults 65 years and older. 

As the county continues to monitor the virus, Kozar said that in the last 30 days out of 4678 samples 15.8% were positive these samples. However he said not all those results came from Washington County.

Kozar said the hospital is constantly trying to improve their method for testing for the virus, testing over 11,000 individuals with their drive-thru since May.

"We instituted a state of the art PCR molecular lab to be able to turn the COVID test around in 24 – 48 hours to better serve our community," he said. "Our NFCH Infusion Center is administering monoclonal antibody treatments to positive COVID patients meeting the FDA guidelines. We are fortunate to have purchased an ultra-cold freezer a few months ago so we actually have the capability of storing the Pfizer vaccine." 

Kozar said theu are the only hospital of our size that we are aware of with this capability and are constantly striving to provide innovative, accessible, and comprehensive healthcare.