Dec. 16, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Elmhurst Hospital — once seen as the epicenter of the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. — became the first public city hospital to administer the vaccine in the five boroughs.
The hospital was the scene of a photo-op Wednesday as two staff members were vaccinated in front of elected officials and members of the media.
The occasion was quite a different picture than at the height of the pandemic — when images of body bags being loaded onto trucks from Elmhurst Hospital made national news. The hospital saw 13 patients die of coronavirus within a 24-hour period in mid March.
One of the staffers vaccinated Wednesday, Veronica Delgado, a lead physician’s assistant in the Emergency Department, compared the moment to “that first bit of sunlight in the morning after a very long, dark and frightening night.”
Delgado and William Kelly, a service aide in the Environmental Services Department, were the first staff members to receive the vaccine within the city’s 11 public hospitals. On Monday, a Queens nurse at a private hospital became the first American to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
The two Elmhurst Hospital employees are among the more than 1,600 health care workers vaccinated for COVID-19 in the city since Monday.
All staff members at Elmhurst Hospital are expected to be vaccinated in the next three weeks, the head of the city’s public hospital system, Dr. Mitch Katz, said.
“How great that we can be here to make the pain go away, to be able to protect the heroes of Elmhurst,” Katz said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was no more fitting place to administer the vaccine than Elmhurst Hospital.
“We’re celebrating such an important moment here — the first ever vaccination at a New York City public hospital,” he said. “And there’s no more fitting place than here. This is the place where it should be because this is the heroic place.”