More than 800 people received their first dose of a vaccine against covid Friday thanks to a partnership between LFCC and Rotz Pharmacy.
Seventy volunteers, including LFCC employees and pharmacy workers, ensured a smooth process for the hundreds of people who came to the Middletown Campus to receive the first of their two shots of the Moderna vaccine. The shots were given by LFCC nursing students and faculty.
Rotz Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy in Winchester, has been administering about 100 doses each week at its Amherst Street location. Co-owner Jason Rotz said prior to Friday, the pharmacy had given 600-700 first shots and 200-300 second shots to customers since mid-January.
When a larger supply of vaccine became available – the snowy weather in February meant a shipment was delayed, resulting in even more shots being available on Friday – Rotz knew all the jabs couldn’t be given at his pharmacy, given its size.
“I knew from being born and raised here that the community would come together, and I started reaching out to those I knew had the space in which we could hold a large-scale clinic,” he said. “[LFCC Vice President of Financial and Administrative Services] Craig Short offered the facilities, and [LFCC Director of Health Professions] Kristina Simpson said her nursing students would love to help.
“Everyone has been really great. Patients have been so thankful.”
Contributing to the public health effort is in line with LFCC’s mission, according to Dean of Professional Programs Craig Santicola.
“We are a college for the community, and this is a great example of how we embody the word community that’s in our name,” he said. “Many people were involved in the planning of this event – Jason Rotz, Whitney Miller, director of facility planning, and Mary Catts, our nurse retention specialist. Their effort, along with many others, has resulted in a well-organized vaccination event that benefits residents in our community while providing our nursing students a great learning opportunity.”
More than a dozen LFCC nursing students were on hand all day Friday, giving the vaccine, as well as helping with the check-in and monitoring processes. First-year nursing student Nicole Cercy was one of them.
“I’m super-passionate about getting the vaccine out there and bringing an end to covid,” she said. “It’s really exciting to be giving the vaccine to patients.”
Cercy’s classmate Ashley Napear was also enthusiastic to be taking part in the vaccination effort.
“I just think that this so important so we can get back to a somewhat normal, or post-covid, society,” she said. “People are so excited to be here.”
Janet Frye, of Woodstock, was one of the hundreds of people relieved to have received a shot in the arm.
“The clinic was very nice, very easy, and everything was explained so well,” she said. “I feel happy now that I have the shot.”
Larry Adams Sr. said he was grateful to LFCC’s nursing students and staff, as well as Rotz Pharmacy.
“I have never seen such a well-organized group of people that took on a project of this capacity in my entire 40 years of military service,” he said. “Patients were sent to each station, making them comfortable and relaxed and on the scheduled time. Thank all of you for your service to me and the community.”
The pandemic has made it more difficult for nursing students to complete the clinical requirements of the program, according to adjunct faculty member Beverley Ridings.
“This helps them with their community health experience,” she explained. “It also gives them the hands-on experience for administering injections. I think it is also helping them with their communication skills. The students have been phenomenal today.”
Another adjunct faculty member Larry Symenow was impressed with what he saw during the clinic.
“This is one of the smoothest operations I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I was in the military for 26 years and this tops all the deployment lines I’ve seen. The flow of it, the timing, the number of patients per hour and the monitoring. Jason’s pharmacy staff made sure everything was prepped for us.”
Those who received the vaccine last week will return to LFCC for follow-up shots on April 2.