CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB)– Members of a local religious order feel they’ve slipped through the cracks in their attempts to get on-site vaccinations.

The 62 Felician Sisters who live on the Villa Maria campus on Doat Street lost six sisters to COVID a few months ago. Combined, they were teachers of thousands of Western New Yorkers throughout their lives.

When they died even many of the other sisters could only say goodbye through windows.

“We couldn’t go outdoors to visit with them or to pray with them. We never saw them again,” Sister Paul Marie Baczkowski said.

They still have been unable to have vaccinations brought to them because although they are a ‘congregate setting’ like a nursing home, it’s not a licensed environment in the eyes of New York State. So they weren’t able to register to get designated doses.

Felician Sisters Healthcare Administrator Beth Haseley told us, “We did register with CVS, Walgreens, we contacted the county, contacted the state with our local pharmacy partners.”

The Felician sisters did manage to book 62 appointments with the pop-up clinic next week at the Delavan Grider community Center but there still hoping something can be worked out before then so they don’t have to bring their most frail sisters out.

“Many of them used to be my teachers they helped to shape my childhood. They made me who I am today,” said Haseley.

“We are an asset to this community as well, maybe not at the level we once were, but we are an asset to the community and we feel it’s important that if our only responsibility is that of prayer that we can continue to pray for everybody that needs these prayers. When we watch TV and we see the news and we see about families and their struggles they are always in our prayers.”

Sister Paul Marie Baczkowski, Felician Sister

News 4 asked if there was anything that Catholic Health could contribute to the situation. This was the response which then came from Vaccinate Western New York (VAX WNY Hub):

“The Hub and the Hub partners are keeping a priority of list of all who currently qualify for the Covid-19 vaccine, including those in religious orders, and will vaccinate within NYS guidelines when vaccines are available.”

News 4 also reached out to the NYS Department of Health and received the following statement;
“We are working our way through our current universe of eligible New Yorkers and are examining next steps as the federal vaccine supply increases.”

The list of people currently eligible for a vaccine is found by clicking here.

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.