MILES CITY — The Montana VA Health Care System (MTVAHCS) administered the first Moderna vaccines to Veterans in MTVAHCS’s Miles City Community Living Center. The long-term care facility serves 18 Veterans who served in World War II, Vietnam and Korea with 27 staff members.
Residents and staff have been screened daily and tested every two weeks for COVID-19 and no residents have contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic. Residents and staff have observed the strictest safety protocol to safeguard residents’ lives.
“The past nine months have not been easy for the residents, family members, and staff,” said Nurse Manager Jennifer Kransky. “Since March 6, our residents have not seen their spouses, met new grandchildren, or been able to go out in the Miles City community. We have found ways to create connection and interaction such as setting up separated visits at our glass entryway, using Skype calls, and taking small groups of Veterans outdoors for picnics. That said, nothing can replace touch. All our residents want to receive the vaccine and we are so excited for what this means for them. We cannot wait for the day where they can hug their families and this vaccine means we are one step closer.”
Transporting the vaccines involved unique MTVAHCS coordination. The Moderna vaccines were transported in ultra-cold containers Monday from the Fort Harrison VA Medical Center to Billings. Billings VA staff then drove the vaccines to Miles City and administered ten vaccines on Tuesday.
“It has taken incredible sacrifice by these residents and our Community Living Center staff to reach this moment,” said MTVAHCS Executive Director Judy Hayman. “Across the state, our most vulnerable community members have endured the strictest safety restrictions to stay healthy. Today, all our MTVAHCS staff celebrate and honor the sacrifices they’ve made these past nine months. We are so grateful they can receive the vaccine and be safe!”
Even after receiving the two required COVID-19 vaccinations, employees and Veterans should continue wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing and washing hands often.
As vaccines become available for more groups of Veterans, MTVAHCS care teams will reach out to enrolled Veterans who are eligible to receive the vaccine based upon age and other risk factors to schedule an appointment. At the time their first vaccine is administered, Veterans will be scheduled to receive the second and final dose 28 days later to complete their COVID-19 vaccination. Veterans can get up-to-date information on VA’s VA COVID-19 vaccine webpage and sign up to receive regular updates on the vaccine on the VA’s Stay Informed page.
MTVAHCS’s overall trust scores—which derive from Veteran rankings of their health care experiences—are at a historic high. MTVAHCS provides healthcare to Veterans across Montana through a series of community-based clinics, the Miles City Community Living Center (Montana VA’s only nursing home), an acute care medical center, a nationally acclaimed sleep center, and robust telehealth services.
The MTVAHCS serves over 47,000 enrolled Veterans across Montana—an area roughly 147,000 square miles in size. Veterans are cared for by a staff of 1,400 at 17 sites of care across the state. One third of Montana VA employees are Veterans.