Delco debuts Wellness Center as COVID-19 vaccination effort intensifies

The new facility will serve as a vaccination and testing site — and eventually the headquarters for the future county health department.

The new wellness center in Yeadon will eventually be the 'hub' of Delaware County's future health department. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

File photo: The wellness center in Yeadon. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

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After a grand opening and ribbon-cutting in Yeadon Wednesday morning, Delaware County got down to the business of health care.

“And so this Wellness Center is going to serve right now as a vaccine and testing site, and then it will eventually be the hub for our county Health Department,” said Dr. Monica Taylor, vice chair of the County Council.

The 11,235-square-foot building at 125 Chester Ave., once a supermarket, is now the second vaccination site in the county; the other is at the Aston Community Center. The Yeadon center is staffed by a variety of medical professionals and volunteers.

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“We’ve hired new personnel that are nurses, logistics managers,” Taylor said. “We also have our Department of Emergency Services that’s working, and we have our wonderful Citizens Corps and Medical Reserve Corps volunteers who are also here.”

Elected leaders from across the county were present for the grand opening and tour of the facility. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

Delco received 2,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week and is projected to receive another 2,000 next week, according to Taylor. However, the county has the ability to inoculate many more than that.

“Once we get enough vaccine and we can open up all of our sites around the county, our capacity is around 10,000 a week,” Taylor said.

The Yeadon vaccine site is open to anybody who qualifies for Phase 1A (health care workers; EMS and coroners, medical examiners and funeral personnel; long-term care residents; those age 65 and older; and people ages 16 to 65 with certain high-risk conditions) — but only after signing up online or using the new call center to register.

After an appointment is confirmed, the individual can come to the center. The vaccine process itself is pretty straightforward: another round of registration, waiting, receiving the vaccination, and then waiting an additional 15 minutes while being monitored, in case of an adverse reaction.

‘Our community will be safer’

In Yeadon, WHYY News had a chance to speak to the first vaccine recipients during their brief stay in the Wellness Center’s monitoring room.

Amy Zoll is a non-medical volunteer for the Citizen Corps of Delaware County. She was the first person to be vaccinated at the new facility, where she will now work.

“I’m very excited. It means that it gives me an opportunity to start volunteering at this facility … knowing that I’m safe, and the clients that are going to come in here are going to be safer for us having the protection that we need,” Zoll said.

Amy Zoll, a volunteer with the Citizen Corps of Delaware County, becomes the first person to be vaccinated at the ribbon cutting for the new Delaware County Wellness Center. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

Zoll will be providing support services and registration assistance on site.

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Renee Dole is a new volunteer with the Citizen Corps. In fact, she did all of her training in January.

After becoming the second person to get vaccinated, Dole said she couldn’t wait to start helping her community.

“Now there’s hope that our community will be safer. Lives will be saved, and [we] specifically can safely volunteer to help get the community vaccinated now with this site,” she said.

Taylor said there were a lot of kudos to go around. From Rosemarie Halt, Delco’s COVID health policy consultant, to the Department of Emergency Services, Taylor wanted to thank everyone for their help in pulling off the Wellness Center opening.

She even made sure to shout out the contractors.

“It took them 12 weeks. They transformed this [from] basically a slab and an empty shell to what it is today in 12 weeks, and so I really need to thank them, because they were amazing in this process,” Taylor said.

Delco gets permission to form a Board of Health

With a population of 565,000, Delaware County is the largest county in the country without a health department. Chester County has largely been leading Delco’s COVID-19 response.

In the meantime, Delco has been working with the state to create a health department.

Though the opening of the Yeadon site is quite the milestone, the county also achieved another major goal in the process of forming that department.

“We got the approval from the state today to go ahead and move forward with our resolution to create a Board of Health,” Taylor said.

The county plans to have this board created by the end of February. Board members will play an important role in selecting the leadership of the new department.

“The Board of Health will be doing a national search for our Health Department director, and then once our Health Department director is in place, he or she will then start the process of hiring out all of the staff that we need for the Health Department,” Taylor said.

The county will simultaneously be holding listening sessions with the community.

“We’re talking to everyone from municipal managers, to school officials, to universities and colleges in the county to get their input on where they see the needs are for the county,” Taylor said.

The county hopes to have a fully functional Health Department by January 2022.

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