Dr. Erin Bearss, a family and emergency medicine physician at Mount Sinai dons prepares to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Erin has been leading a Sinai Health team providing vaccines in long-term care and retirement homes.
“It’s inherent in my nature to try and help when I see a solution to a problem that can be solved,” says Dr. Erin Bearss, Associate Chief of Family Medicine at Mount Sinai. Right now, for Erin, stepping up to help means leading the Sinai Health ‘vaccine squad’ as it delivers second doses to residents, employees and essential care partners in long-term care homes. Erin first got involved in this project in late December. With cases of COVID-19 climbing, and outbreaks in health care facilities on the rise, she saw a need to take action. After shadowing another hospital’s vaccination team at a long-term care home, Erin quickly implemented a plan for Sinai Health to visit six long-term care homes, three retirement homes as well as complex care patients and alternate level of care patients at Bridgepoint and Mount Sinai. They administered a total of 1,513 first doses in just eight days in early January. One thing that’s made this job easier for Erin is the number of her colleagues willing to help. “The response to sign up and assist has been phenomenal. Many physicians from all areas of the hospital volunteered.” For Erin, bringing the vaccine to the highest-priority groups brings hope. As they administered the first doses, it was especially meaningful for physicians who went back to long-term care homes they supported during difficult outbreaks in the first wave of the pandemic, “It’s been very moving for physicians to go back months later, to provide the vaccine—that additional piece of safety—to these residents they had previously cared for,” she says. Now, the second doses are on their way. Erin and the vaccine squad are donning their personal protective equipment to do it all again.