SCARBOROUGH, ME – JANUARY 21: Crossroad Holdings will donate the use of the former grandstand at Scarborough Downs Racetrack to MaineHealth so it can be transformed into a high-volume COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Crews work on the windows of the exterior of the building on Jan. 21. (Staff photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer) Derek Davis

SCARBOROUGH — During a special Scarborough Town Council meeting on Jan. 26, councilors thanked Maine Health, the Downs and everyone else involved in speedy coordination of a six-month vaccination center.

The Town Council approved a mass gathering permit for MaineHealth to establish a COVID-19 vaccination center in the former Grandstand at Scarborough Downs, with plans to open on Feb. 1.

MaineHealth announced plans for the site on Jan. 21. According to the plan, the vaccination center will be up for the next six months.

Monica Russo, a representative of MaineHealth, said that the center will be engaging with a private service and the National Guard to maintain traffic flow and security respectively.

“That guard will be with us to help keep a calm presence on the property if there are any patients who arrive who may be disruptive or an individuals who are anxious,” she said.

The clinic was to have a soft opening Tuesday, Feb. 2 to vaccinate MaineHealth staff and a public opening Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 12:30 p.m., according to the Portland Press Herald.

“One thing we don’t want to do is go zero to 200 patients per hour without having the op(portunity) to learn about the facility and flow and supplies and gradually build up,” Russo said.

Individuals who visit the center do not need to be MaineHealth patients, she said.

“Our commitment is to the entire community and everyone has equal access to book an appointment and to receive a vaccination within our center,” Russo said.

The people from Crossroads Holdings are using their own staff for renovations of the facility, said Town Manager Thomas Hall.

“They have pivoted away from other busy developer activity and really put the full force into motion here,” Hall said.

“They’re a great corporate citizen, Councilor Ken Johnson said of the Downs developers. “They like their community and they show it through their actions.”

The swift development of this plan stems from the willingness to innovate and the cooperation from MaineHealth, the state and town staff, said Councilor Don Hamill.

“It’s a bottleneck in terms of getting people vaccinated, having centers to do it and the ability for immunizations to do it,” he said.

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina thanked the Downs and MaineHealth.

“I’m just excited as a Scarborough citizen, that Scarborough is stepping up to the plate to help with this horrible situation we’re in with the pandemic, and keeping my fingers crossed that this vaccination situation is quickly overcome and we can get everyone vaccinated as soon as possible,” she said.

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