ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — In December, the senior living community Goodwin House found out that all of Virginia’s nursing homes would be prioritized for the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the month. A week later, administrator Josh Bagley got a call to set it up.

Goodwin House Alexandria is split into two facilities: independent living and a healthcare center. Bagley prioritized the healthcare center’s residents and staff members first. “They allocated about 187 to us when they called us and I told them we requested 240. We wanted that full amount because we would use them all,” Bagley said.

“Josh Bagley is the guy who got on the phone and, who through successive layers of management in the company that was administering the vaccine, got to somebody at the top who finally said, ‘Yes, our people can stay, use that up and don’t bring it back,’” said resident Stetson Tinkham. 

Thanks to Bagley’s efforts, Tinkham and his wife got a dose at the 11th hour, which started with a knock on their door. “Our dinner had just arrived and we were getting ready to put it on plates and put it in the microwave and warm it up,” Bagley remembered. “So we looked at each other and we said, “Yeah, dinner or vaccine? I think we’ll go with vaccine. If you pass on this opportunity you don’t know when the next opportunity is coming so we felt comfortable doing it. Both of us did.”

375 people were vaccinated last month and are awaiting their second dose on January 19. Bagley hopes they’ll vaccinate more people once Governor Ralph Northam initiates Phase 1B, which will allow CVS and other pharmacies to distribute vaccinations. 

So, when will things get back to normal? Bagley says that’s a loaded question. “We’re pretty sure we’ll have visitation start again. Will masks be staying on? Most likely. Do we know if you can still spread the coronavirus if you have the vaccine? We’re still learning that. We’re happy to be leaders but we’re also very quick to make sure everybody continues to be safe.”

The other question: how did Goodwin House get so lucky?

“I joke that we come at the beginning of the alphabet instead of the end,” Bagley said. “I don’t know why but we were grateful that we were chosen.”

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