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Evangelical offers vaccines, gets overwhelming response

Evangelical Community Hospital, located in Lewisburg, the seat of nearby Union County, announced it would offer COVID-19 vaccinations to those qualifying under the Jan. 19 expanded eligibility starting Monday morning.

However, its telephone system had been overwhelmed and was not accepting calls at noon Monday — four hours after the line opened up.

A press release sent by the hospital’s communications team instructed eligible recipients of either COVID-19 vaccine to call 570-522-4530 and press option 1 Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

However, from as early as noon through the afternoon on Monday, callers who called that line were met with a message saying the line was no longer in service.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, the hospital was able to physically answer 1,700 calls, according to Deanna Hollenbach, Evangelical Community Hospital’s communications manager.

“We recognize a significant number of calls still went unanswered,” Hollenbach said in a press release. “The public is asked to have continued patience with scheduling processes at not only Evangelical, but at all vaccine provider locations.”

Evangelical Community Hospital’s phone lines are being fully operated by a human staff, Hollenbach said.

Hollenbach emphasized that anyone who has been confirmed for a vaccination appointment should keep the appointment, or call and cancel as soon as possible to allow other eligible patients to schedule to receive the vaccination.

“This allows for the most efficient use of the vaccine to reach the greatest amount of people in the community,” Hollenbach said.

Although Evangelical Community Hospital stood out as a resource for regional patients seeking a vaccine who cannot schedule via an app or the internet, the hospital is also collecting an administrative fee “due to the number of individuals now qualifying for Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination plan.”

“Vaccination is another tool in our toolbox in our fight against COVID-19. Once vaccinated the community is encouraged to continue to practice other mitigation efforts,” Hollenbach said.

Those precautions include wearing a mask when one leaves his or her home, washing one’s hands regularly, remaining six feet from others while in public places and staying home if one is ill.

According to data released by the state Department of Health last week, the state allocated Evangelical Community Hospital almost 3,000 Pfizer vaccine doses and 800 Moderna vaccine doses.

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