Retirement facility has to bus residents 30 minutes to Bojangles Coliseum for vaccine shots

DAVIDSON, N.C. — A retirement living facility in Davidson told Channel 9 it is having to bus residents to Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte in order for them to get their COVID-19 vaccination.

A representative with Hawthorne Senior Living, the company that owns Williams Place Gracious Retirement in Davidson, told Channel 9 anchor Susanna Black that they are having to ferry elderly residents 30 minutes each way after the facility learned it had been removed from the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care program -- a joint effort between the U.S. government, CVS and Walgreens.

The representative said the facility enrolled all of its communities in the program on Oct 27 and was told if there were any issues, they would be notified.

In January, he said the pharmacies began contacting the assisted living communities, but not the retirement communities. When they reached out to learn why, they discovered the CDC had removed all retirement communities from the program.

[READ: Mecklenburg County’s vaccine information page]

The representative said the facility now has to bus approximately 35 residents to the Bojangles Coliseum vaccination site on Wednesday.

While he said he’s thankful to Mecklenburg County for allowing them the opportunity -- even creating 14 new spots for them -- he expressed concerns about transporting so many residents together while the facility is experiencing positive COVID-19 cases.

“The county is fully aware that we have positive cases in our community and still insists that we travel from our community in Davidson to Bojangles Coliseum,” the representative said. “Our residents have taken COVID-19 tests that we keep on-hand, will wear masks and will socially distance to the best of their ability on our bus for the 30-minute drive each way.”

The representative also said that 46 of their residents have been able to access the vaccine on their own.

Channel 9 has reached out to the CDC to find out if retirement communities were removed from, or ever considered a part of the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care program. They confirmed that retirement facilities were never a part of the partnership.

Below is a statement issued by Mecklenburg County’s deputy health director:

“We spoke with a representative from their corporate office this morning and offered to provide transportation support for these residents to allow for better spacing of residents as well as offered to adjust appointment times. They assured us that the property manager would reach out to coordinate – I gave them my direct cell phone to call to coordinate this support. I have not heard from them but we stand ready to assist. We have strike teams that are providing vaccines to residents at long-term care facilities that were eligible, but not enrolled in the federal program. We are also hosting special events at low-income senior living sites as a part of our equity plan/allocation. In partnership with MTS, we are coordinating free transportation for residents who are unable to transport themselves and making sure senior living communities are able to access appointments, and as reported, making accommodations as vaccine supply allows.”

We spoke to the general manager of Shad’s Landing and she said she feels retirement residents need the vaccine to come to them.

“Just the peace of mind it would bring to the ninety residents here - the staff here - the families - whoo! - it would definitely be a peace of mind”, said General Manager Kayla Cline.

>> Have questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Carolinas? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak -- CLICK HERE FOR MORE.