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New movement on HCHS

Seeking to restart process, trustees choose Roanoke design-build team to scope out future of high school

Hypothermia led to deaths of father, son, examiner finds

No explanation for why Bethel Road residents were outdoors for days

First day back, under a different normal

Difficult choices for some as in-person school begins


Football opener punted to Saturday

Comets get Bassett at home at 2 p.m.






South Boston News
Frontline health care providers at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill received the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Thursday. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Dr. Desiderio Rimon of South Hill, getting his shot from Stacy Davis. / December 23, 2020
As Americans head into the winter months and COVID-19 infections increase across the country, a glimmer of hope is on the horizon as the prospect of vaccines becomes a reality. In Virginia, COVID-19 vaccines for high-risk front-line health care workers became available this week. Select staff at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) received their first dose on Thursday, Dec. 17.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Desiderio Rimon, MD, of South Hill.

Curtis Poole of Wake Forest, N.C. is the director of food and nutrition services and he explains, “I want to set a positive example for the community.”

Maryann Johnston of Halifax County, N.C. is the director of perioperative services and she said, “I am taking all the precautions I can.”

Ikenna Ibe, MD, MPH, MBA, FACP, is the vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at VCU Health CMH. When he received his vaccine he said, “This represents hope. Hope that fewer people will die from this virus. Hope we can get back to normal. I did not do it just for myself but for everybody. I hope everyone will get it for this reason.”

VCU Health is one of a limited number of facilities in the Commonwealth that meets the equipment and storage requirements to safely receive and store the COVID-19 vaccine. Here, we share what you should know about VCU Health’s preparations for the COVID-19 vaccine.

What is VCU Health’s plan for distributing the vaccine?

Weeks ago, VCU Health created an internal vaccine distribution task force to develop a plan that ensures equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Initial vaccine supply is low, and our first priority is the safety of our team members and patients.

Following guidance from the CDC and in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health, we are offering the vaccine in phases.

We are now offering the vaccines to interested front-line medical workers so they can safely care for all of our patients during the pandemic. This includes those who provide care to known or suspected COVID-19 patients, such as in our COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit or our emergency department. It also includes employees who regularly work in long-term care facilities.

VCU Health CMH is receiving a daily shipment to be used each day to interested high-risk, front-line medical workers following the same protocols on a tiered basis.

After that, the distribution phases are flexible as we get a better understanding of availability and continue to learn more about the new vaccines. The plan will include distributing the vaccine to an expanded pool of VCU Health employees, patients and hopefully, the broader community.

Though exact timing is uncertain, we will always make decisions with the safety of our team members, patients and the community in mind.

How will we store the vaccines?

VCU Medical Center — VCU Health’s downtown Richmond hospital — meets all of the requirements to safely receive, store and transport the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine must be stored in extremely cold temperatures. It can be stored up to six months in special ultra-low temperature freezers set to -80 degrees C. The Moderna vaccine — which was approved last week for emergency use by the FDA — can be stored up to six months in a standard freezer that maintains a temperature of -20 degrees C.

As an academic medical center, VCU Health already has a number of these ultra-cold freezers, as well as the freezers and refrigerators necessary to store chemical medications and sensitive vaccines. We also have a new freezer to create extra storage space to ensure we are as prepared as possible to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to whomever needs it.

How much vaccine will VCU Health receive?

The state of Virginia is receiving an estimated 480,000 doses of vaccine for health care personnel and long-term care residents. We are working closely with the Virginia Department of Health, and expect to receive approximately 3,800 doses for initial distribution across the VCU Health System.

Learn more about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine at

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