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Thompson Hospital gets ready for COVID-19 vaccine with special freezers

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As part of preparations for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine UR Medicine Thompson Health recently installed an ultra-cold freezer at F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua.

The 19.4-cubic-foot freezer, which is kept at minus 80 degrees Celsius, was manufactured by Thermo Fisher Scientific. It has inner doors to provide extra insulation, as well as continuous temperature monitoring and alarms should the temperature go out of range.

The Finger Lakes region is expected to see a little more than 11,000 vaccines in the first wave of distribution after FDA approval.

Installation of the ultra-cold freezer means Thompson is prepared for vaccine delivery, with allocation and distribution at the discretion of the state Department of Health. Thompson also has a tiered plan in place for vaccinating its employees, based on their risk of workplace exposure to the virus. An internal team will oversee the process. The model they create will be scalable to other target populations and venues as the vaccine becomes more widely available.

“At a time when COVID cases are climbing at an alarming rate throughout our region and our dedicated hospital staff members are caring for more COVID patients than ever, Thompson Health is excited to be a part of helping our local communities begin to work their way toward a return to a pre-pandemic sense of normalcy,” said President/CEO Michael F. Stapleton, Jr.

Stapleton noted the health system is well prepared for the COVID patients it will treat in the coming months, with an ample supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as tiered surge plans in place. In addition, he noted, Thompson is equipped to help community members with essential preventative care, urging them to consider telemedicine when appropriate and reassuring them that Thompson provides safe environments for in-person care.

“As we await the time when the vaccine is widely available, we are imploring everyone to please continue practicing social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the spread of this deadly virus,” he said. “We have a light at the end of the tunnel and we want to be able to reach it and celebrate it together.”