HAMPTON, Va. (November 23, 2020) – Sentara Healthcare and the Hampton University School of Nursing & Gerontology Center are working together to provide free, preventative flu and shingles vaccines to residents of Forrest Pines Senior, a senior independent living community in Newport News, Va.
“Hampton University is always excited to partner with Sentara Healthcare to serve the Commonwealth and the community. These very important vaccines will help to ensure older adults receive the necessary care to stay healthy, especially during these uncertain times,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
Dr. Ethlyn Gibson, Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Director for the Hampton University Gerontology Center for Excellence, reached out to Iris Lundy, Director of Health Equity for Sentara Healthcare, to ask about providing flu shots and the Shingrix vaccine to some of the community’s 123 residents. The initial request came from the building manager, who was concerned about residents’ increased vulnerability to COVID-19 from preventable viruses.
“The goal of this community outreach effort is to avoid a possible outbreak of a preventable virus that could easily spread to others in their living community. Many older adults are medically vulnerable and at increased risk of developing deadly health complications from both shingles and the flu,” said Lundy. “These community prevention measures are especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Many older adults in the southeast area of Newport News live below the federal poverty line, have other multiple health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular health issues, and cannot easily access the health services and resources they need to live healthy lives.
“The southeast region of Newport News is also designated as a ‘food desert,’ which translates to poor access to fresh food. That, as well as barriers to accessing healthcare including transportation issues and fear of contracting COVID-19, may also further compromise their health statuses,” said Gibson.
Lundy worked with volunteer faculty from the Hampton University School of Nursing to administer 60 flu shots, provided by Sentara Leigh Hospital, to Forrest Pines residents on Monday, November 23, 2020. She and Gibson are also coordinating an opportunity for Sentara Medical Group nurses to administer 30 Shingrix vaccines in the near future. The Shingrix vaccine, which is being provided by Sentara Careplex Hospital, requires two doses given two to six months apart.
“We are glad to have community partners like Hampton University School of Nursing & Gerontology Center who can help us reach the communities that need us most,” Lundy said.