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RUMC Helps 98-Year Old Great-Grandmother Take Her First Step Toward Seeing Her Family Again

January 15, 2021

Mary Cochran of West Brighton, Staten Island, Receives First Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

January 14, 2021 – Today at 4:30 PM, Mary Cochran, 98, of West Brighton receive her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, taking one step closer to immunization against the virus. The nonagenarian was accompanied to Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) by her daughter, Helen Calcagno.

“I want to be healthy,” Cochran said about why she chose to be vaccinated. “I want to see my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

Cochran will turn 99 in May of this year. She is a military wife, her late husband, Francis, was a United States Marine for over 30 years, and fought in both World War II and the Korean War. Originally from Brooklyn, she has three children, Helen, John and Maureen, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Her eighth great-grandchild, Michael, was born two weeks ago.

Following guidelines from the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), RUMC began administering first round COVID-19 vaccinations yesterday to those individuals classified by NYS DOH as Group 1B. Group 1B includes people age 65 and older, teachers, public-facing grocery workers, education workers, first responders, police and fire personnel, court officers, corrections officers, public safety and transit workers. 

“I am very happy to see that many people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19,” RUMC’s Vice Chair of Medicine; Program Director, Internal Medicine; and Chief of Critical Care, Jay Nfonoyim, MD, said. “I have received both doses. For me and for most people the decision to be vaccinated was easy because it was not vaccine vs no vaccine. It was contracting COVID-19 vs vaccine.” Dr. Nfonoyim received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on December 15 and his second dose on January 4. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection seven days after the second dose.

Since mid-December, RUMC has continued the successful vaccination process of employees, medical staff, and practitioners classified by NYS DOH as Group 1A. This first group included all high risk hospital workers, such as physician, registered nurses, EMS, individuals administering vaccinations, staff with direct patient contact, and outpatient/ambulatory workers who provide direct in-person patient care, among others. Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo praised RUMC for being one of only 5 hospitals in all of New York State, at that time, to have administered 100 percent of its initial vaccine allocation.  Since then, the hospital has received a second allocation of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine, both of which are being administered following all NYS DOH guidelines. These shipments are being used to continue first round shots to those in Group 1A and now 1B, as well as to administer second round, or booster shots, to those individuals in Group 1A who received their first dose in mid-December.

Since last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic began, RUMC has treated and discharged over 2,000 people affected by the virus and continues to provide long term and short term treatment to recovered individuals though it’s comprehensive Post COVID-19 Care Center.

Due to limited quantities of the vaccine provide to RUMC from the state at this time, all available appointment times are currently filled. As additional shipments of vaccine arrive from the state, the hospital will announce when scheduling for appointments resumes. The hospital continues to prioritize vaccination of individuals in Group 1A.


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 Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.