COVID-19 vaccine is ready for staff
There was a hushed buzz of excitement in Martins Conference Room at Cape Cod Hospital Tuesday afternoon as administration and staff prepared for an historic moment. Occupational Health staff set up six stations with computers, hand sanitizer and most importantly, vials of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Pamela Morrison, RN, of the South 2 unit, seemed surprised that all eyes were on her as she sat at a station and held up the sleeve of her scrubs. The swipe of an alcohol wipe, a quick pinch, and everyone cheered as she stood up, the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Cape Cod, the first of many who will be vaccinated against the pandemic virus.
“I’m so excited and so grateful,” Morrison said. “Our floor lives through what this virus does to people.”
Clapping, fist pumps and cheers followed many of the shots, with the Occupational Health team openly enthusiastic for the moment.
“We’re very excited. It’s the first big dent we’re making in stopping the pandemic and protecting our community,” said Mara Garcia, director of Occupational Health. “It’s a big uppercut.”
South 2 has treated COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic earlier this year and clinical staff from that unit were among the first 30 employees to receive the shot in Hyannis, along with radiology technicians, and Emergency Center staff.
“This whole crew has been in the middle of it since the beginning,” said Mike Lauf, president and CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare. “I asked them if they’d do us the honor of having the first COVID-19 vaccine here and they came right over.”
In Falmouth, Taylor McKeown, RN, walked from her shift in the EC, rolled up the sleeve of her top and received the first vaccine at Falmouth Hospital. ICU nurses, EC physicians and staff were among the 15 whose were vaccinations were celebrated from cheers nearby.
Cape Cod Healthcare is one of the first healthcare systems in the state to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Lauf has credited staff from across the organization with having the foresight to prepare CCHC for the arrival of the vaccine months in advance, preparing staff and purchasing ultra-low freezers, which maintain temperatures between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius.
“It’s such an important moment. The ability to protect those who work every day to protect the community is incredible,” Lauf said. “This vaccine allows us to begin the process of halting the disease and preventing it from further infiltrating the community.”
Marion Klaussner, also of South 2, said she cried when she saw the trucks on television rolling out of Michigan with the vaccine. A 30-year veteran of healthcare who also has served in the military, she said she understood what an amazing logistical feat it was to have this vaccine created and distributed so quickly.
“I’m just so relieved. It’s fantastic,” Klaussner said. “We’ve worked so hard for this.”
Klaussner said their staff “steps up without question” every day. And Morrison also credited her colleagues for the incredible teamwork that has gotten them through COVID-19 care.
“They are the most incredible bunch of women and men,” she said. “I literally thank god we had the group of people we had here. It’s how we got through it.”
But while the staff is on Morrison’s mind, the patients are her focus, even at an historic moment in the pandemic.
“We had a man on our floor for two weeks who was very sick. He went home today. It was a good day.”