Janet Sgarlata Becomes 5,000th Person to Receive COVID-19 Vaccination at RUMC, Received Liver Transplant Last October
February 8, 2021 – On Saturday February 6, Janet Sgarlata of Oakwood, Staten Island, became the 5,000 person to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC). Sgarlata, 66, who is also a liver transplant recipient, was able to receive the vaccine under the state’s Group 1B qualification criteria.
Sgarlata’s sister, Karen, was able to secure a vaccination appointments through RUMC’s appointment call line for both her sister, and 86-year-old mother, Ellen. Karen had COVID-19 last March and was able to recover at home without spreading the virus to her sister or mother. Karen however was informed she is currently not eligible for vaccination. When she found out, she asked about giving what would have been her appointment to her sister who did qualify and had been trying on her own to get an appointment, but without success. “She needs it more than me anyway,” Karen said.
Janet was diagnosed with stage 4 auto immune hepatitis, and in June of 2020 passed out in a local grocery store. She would spend the next 6 hours in a coma before recovering enough to go home days later. Then on October 30, 2020, Janet received a second chance at life when she underwent a successful liver transplant. Since the transplant, she has been living in Brooklyn with her sister and mother. Despite reservations because of the transplant, Janet decided to get the vaccine after getting approval from her doctors.
“I am so happy and grateful,” Sgarlata said. “It’s so hard to get a transplant at my age, I’m just happy to be alive. Now to also get the vaccine on top of this, I feel so blessed. I’m just so happy to be alive.” Sgarlata, who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, will return to RUMC in three weeks for her booster shot.
By the end of the day on February 6, RUMC had provided over 400 first doses that day alone, raising the overall total of first doses administered at RUMC to nearly 5,200 since mid-December 2020 when the first allocations of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines arrived.
Following guidelines from the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), vaccine doses were first administered to frontline employees, medical staff, and practitioners classified by NYS DOH as Group 1A. Most of this group have now also received their second booster shot. Then on January 13, RUMC also began administering COVID-19 vaccinations to individuals classified by NYS DOH as Group 1B. Group 1B includes people age 65 and older, teachers, education workers, first responders, police and fire personnel, corrections officers, public safety and transit workers. Since the state expanded vaccination to include these additional individuals, there has been a large response from people in the community seeking vaccination.
“Vaccinating over 5,000 people is a tremendous milestone for our hospital and testament to the efficient program we have developed here,” president and chief executive officer, Daniel J. Messina, PhD, FACHE, said. “This accomplishment is a source of tremendous pride for everyone involved in developing our vaccination program. This is also a time to reflect on what this moment really means. It means more than 5,000 people have come to RUMC determined to take back their lives, to tell this virus it is no longer in control. Each needle in an arm is someone saying I want to protect myself, the people I love, and my community. It’s truly awe-inspiring.”
Over the first five weeks of vaccine distribution, RUMC was one of only a handful of hospitals across New York State to successfully administer all of its allocations from the New York State Department of Health, drawing praise from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. RUMC has since remained among the top performing hospitals, many of which are larger health care systems.
“Vaccinating our 5,000th individual is a remarkable milestone in our journey to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse Officer, Rosemarie Stazzone, said. “The outpouring from the community to receive the vaccine has been astounding. I am very proud in the way Richmond University Medical Center has responded to this very important community need, one that will impact and improve the quality of life for our entire Staten Island community.”
While COVID-19 vaccinations progress, RUMC also continues to care for individuals infected by the virus. Throughout January, COVID-19 inpatient census at RUMC fluctuated between the high 50s to low 70s. Now into February, inpatient volume has steadily decreased, dropping into the 40s since February 1. Since last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic began, RUMC has treated and discharged over 2,600 people affected by the virus. RUMC also continues to provide long term and short term treatment to recovered individuals though it’s comprehensive Post COVID-19 Care Center.
VIDEO: To view video of RUMC staff celebrating with Janet, click here.
MEDIA NOTE: If you would like to interview Janet, please contact RUMC’s Media Relations at 718-818-2104 or email Alutz@RUMCSI.org.
Richmond University Medical Center is a not-for-profit healthcare provider serving the ethnically diverse community of Staten Island and its neighbors. The medical center provides premier-quality patient care through a full spectrum of emergent, acute, primary, behavioral health and educational services. RUMC does this in an environment that promotes the highest satisfaction among patients, families, physicians and staff. For more information call 1-718-818-1234 or visit www.rumcsi.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.