COVID-19 vaccine hits substance abuse/addiction recovery (OASAS) homes

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DANSVILLE, N.Y. (WROC) — Some of the first people getting the COVID-19 vaccine in New York State include those struggling with substance abuse and addiction in state-run OASAS homes. There are just twelve of these homes (Office of Addiction Services and Supports) throughout the state, one is CASA-Trinity in Dansville.

These state-run facilities are high on the list to get vaccines, simply because they’re what Governor Cuomo calls “congregate settings.”

“Congregate facilities are problematic,” Cuomo said. “It’s where you have a lot of people in concentration.”

Ann Domingos is chief executive officer and CEO at CASA-Trinity. She says their facility offers in-patient/out-patient services as well as residential services for those struggling with addiction and substance abuse. With everyone in close quarters, much like nursing homes, there has inevitably been COVID-19 spread.

“Once it starts it’s difficult to stop the spread,” Domingos said.

Domingos says regulations and preventative PPE measures help, but a vaccine is the relief she’s been waiting for.

“It’s been really exciting I feel relieved, I feel deeply for my clients we serve, and this gives a layer of security. Everybody still needs to continue to wear masks, all of that will continue to happen.”

Right now there’s no in-person visitation allowed at these OASAS homes, and Domingos says patients are eager to return to that. Any change in protocols comes from the state, but until then – she says this vaccine is a step forward for sure.

“We really want it to be different, and this vaccine indicates this could be coming sooner rather than later,” she said.

Domingos says they met with all the clients to ask if they were interested in not – it was fully their decision. Appointments were made from there. Staff transport patients to a local health provider that administers the vaccine privately.

“Like anybody, these patients are vulnerable, they have comorbid illnesses, like diabetes, heart disease, all kinds of things,” she said.

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