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Winner! Hartford HealthCare Opens 7th Mega-Vaccine Site at Foxwoods

March 08, 2021

Hartford HealthCare opened its seventh mega-vaccine site Monday at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, adding the capability to vaccinate 800 to 1,000  Connecticut residents a day in Eastern Connecticut.

A host of officials from the casino, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Hartford HealthCare and the state of Connecticut were on hand Monday morning to officially open the clinic. Even before its opening, the clinic had vaccinated 1,000 schoolteachers a day earlier at the site inside the Rainmaker Casino.

And before the press conference was even over, residents from across Eastern Connecticut were lined up at the vaccine clinic check-in desk for their scheduled appointments.

Jerrilyn Goodwater of Norwich had been trying repeatedly to get a vaccine appointment since the state opened up the eligibility to 55 and older on March 1.

“I was online, I was making calls, I signed myself up on different sites, I put myself on VAMS,” she said. “As soon as they opened Foxwoods to appointments, I got in.”

Goodwater wanted to be vaccinated because over the last year she knows many people who have contracted COVID “and that is something I do not want to experience,” she said. “I’m looking forward to my second shot and getting immunity.”

At the press conference, Donna Handley, President of Hartford HealthCare’s East Region, Backus and Windham hospitals, thanked Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler for his immediate and emphatic “yes,” when she called him a few weeks ago to float the idea of a mega-clinic site at Foxwoods.

“The day I called you, you never hesitated,” she said, looking at Butler standing off to the side. “And our teams created a partnership that made this work. This will enable us to reach those in our communities who have difficulties with access.”

Butler said the Pequots’ decision to host the site at the casino was another example of the “community-first” mantra the tribe has long held. Jason Guyot, Interim CEO & SVP Resort Operations at Foxwoods, said he was pleased to be able to work with Hartford HealthCare to bring the site to fruition.

“We have worked tirelessly since the onset of the pandemic to ensure the safety of everyone,” he noted. “Hosting this mega-site is a critical piece in our commitment to the local community.”

“This virus knows no boundaries, and neither should we,” said Dr. Setu Vora, Chief Medical Officer of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. “We created testing, tracing and safety protocols at the beginning, and now our focus is building community immunity. Here we can help distribute the vaccine safely, quickly, efficiently and equitably.”

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong praised the collaboration between Hartford HealthCare and the Mashantuckets, noting that it was another step forward in ensuring equal access to the vaccine for all Connecticut residents.

“If you are eligible to get the shot, come get it,” Tong said.

Jeff Flaks, President & Chief Executive Officer Hartford HealthCare, noted that Hartford HealthCare has created a vaccination system that spans the entire state, in all eight counties.

“Through our partners and community organizations, we have built trust within the local communities,” he said. “We want to make sure no community is left behind. Opening sites like Foxwoods is how we will ensure that all of Connecticut is vaccinated.”

Yolanda Negron of Willimantic — who recovered from COVID but has had lingering effects from her illness — received a vaccine for the cameras at the press conference. After getting her shot, reporters asked her how she felt.

“I feel good,” she said. “I feel relieved. I trust them and I trust the scientists and everyone involved in these vaccines. Don’t be afraid.”