NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island Reaches Milestone in the COVID-19 Pandemic With First Staff Vaccinated

Rabbi Jonas Gruenzweig, hospital chaplain providing spiritual care to patients, received first vaccination

Dec 16, 2020

Brooklyn, NY

In the fight against COVID-19, NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island has reached a significant milestone – its first employee vaccination.

Rabbi Jonas Gruenzweig, one of the medical center’s chaplains who served patients in the Emergency Department (ED), Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and throughout the hospital with spiritual care throughout the pandemic, received the hospital’s first vaccination this morning. The first shipment of vaccines were offered to staff members 60 years and older who work in any capacity in the hospital’s ED and ICU.

“As the delivery trucks carrying the COVID-19 vaccinations arrived to our facility yesterday, I began to breathe a sigh of relief for the first time in 9 months,” said Svetlana Lipyanskaya, chief executive officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island. “Although our staff will continue this grueling but important work providing exceptional care for the residents of South Brooklyn, it is comforting to know that they will soon have this important, and miraculous layer of protection.”

Rabbi Grunezweig, a resident of Williamsburg, has served as chaplain at the hospital for five years. After receiving the first dose of the vaccine, he said, “I decided to take it today because I would like to be protected for myself, my family, my loved ones, my congregants, my patients, hospital staff, or any other person I come together with.”
“I hope this injection, which comes in two parts, will get rid of this pandemic and we should all be able to move on with our lives and eradicate COVID-19,” said Rabbi Grunezweig.

President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, Mitchell Katz, stated today that the health system hopes to have enough vaccine for everyone who works in Health + Hospitals’ 11 acute care hospitals in the next three weeks as vaccine supplies become available and following the priority population guidance of federal and state authorities. The COVID-19 vaccine is available at no cost to staff and although it is not mandatory for anyone, Katz believes it is healthcare workers best defense against the deadly virus.
“After nine long months fighting this virus, today was a day of hope for our staff,” said Lipyanskaya.

This morning, Mayor de Blasio joined colleagues at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst to document some of the first vaccines administered there. You can catch that coverage here and here.

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