Back in February of this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging and vaccines finally became available, leaders at Bon Secours Rappahannock General Hospital (RGH) jumped into action and embarked on a mission to organize a community vaccination clinic.
Over the course of just one month, RGH, partnering with Three Rivers Health District, identified a clinic location, worked out the vaccine supply chain through the Virginia Department of Health and lined up nurses as well as clinicians to administer vaccines. Team members also recruited volunteers, became proficient in utilizing an online registration and database program provided by the state health system and more. Linda St. George of the pharmacy department, safety coordinator Kimberlie Hensley and volunteer coordinator Julie Dudley were a few of the key players.
“We’re one of the most elderly regions in state, so we were all concerned about the vulnerability of our population,” Jimmie Carter, who heads the RGH Foundation, says. “We were all working frantically to see that we got the vaccinations out as soon as possible. Time was of the essence. We were in crisis mode.”
By mid-March, the team began holding vaccination clinics out of White Stone Church of the Nazarene, generously offered up for the clinic’s use. As the clinics progressed, the team began identifying gaps in the system. One of the main gaps they found was the senior population’s lack of access to technology.
“Our team members had our personal cell numbers posted around the community, on church bulletins and in social media groups,” Joanna Marchetti, RGH project coordinator and vaccine clinic team member, shares. “Word quickly spread that we’d do whatever we could to accommodate needs and help.”
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of these efforts was the tremendous support from the community. After receiving an incredible response from a request for volunteers posted in the Rappahannock Record, the clinics began operating almost exclusively with volunteer clinical staff from the community.
“The generosity of these individuals with their time and talents cannot be overstated. Sometimes these were incredibly long days, especially in the beginning when we refused to let a single dose go to waste,” Jimmie says.
Joanna adds, “these clinics couldn’t have been done without this wonderful crew of volunteers who selflessly gave their time to help keep their neighbors safe and healthy. It was amazing seeing the community come together in such a unified way.”
Non-clinical community volunteers completed a total of 1800 hours of service throughout the clinics, too. Altogether, more than 120 volunteers, both clinic and non-clinical, comprised the core of the workforce that sustained these clinics.
At the conclusion of the final second dose clinic on May 19, 2021, the RGH vaccination clinic had administered 2,509 first doses, and 2,418 second doses, for a total of 4,927 vaccinations throughout the course of the 12 weeks and 16 clinic dates.
“The Virginia Department of Health is appreciative of the tremendous efforts of the RGH team,” Richard S. Williams, MD, MPH, district director, Three Rivers Health District, Virginia Department of Health, shares. “This clinic was crucial to supporting the early phases of vaccination for our area with the mass capacity it accommodated. This was a finely tuned operation and most impressive to witness.”
According to Richard, the RGH Vaccination Clinic ranked third in the Three Rivers Health District in terms of vaccinations administered.
To celebrate this success, Rappahannock General Hospital hosted a clinic volunteer appreciation luncheon at White Stone Church of the Nazarene back in June. The event included a catered lunch, an appreciation gift and remarks by hospital leadership.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community and provide this crucial service,” Alan Bailey, vice president administrator for the hospital, says. “We would especially like to thank White Stone Church of the Nazarene for so generously offering the use of their incredible facility, as well as the incredible staff and volunteers who came together to support these efforts. We’re proud to have been part of this important initiative that contributed to the health and wellbeing of our community.”
Also, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is the best way you can avoid severe illness and protect those around you. Learn more about our ministry’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts.