By Sue Tiffin
In just eight days, over about 40 hours, a team of people made up of physicians, nurses, paramedics, administrators, roads crew, volunteers and spouses of those team members vaccinated 1,946 people in Haliburton County.
“It was a very successful few days,” said Kimberley Robinson, executive director and manager, Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team/Haliburton Family Medical Centre.
The last clinic at the Haliburton Family Medical Centre was held March 30, as mass vaccination clinics are prepared to open in the upcoming weeks.
The site was one that occasionally saw tears – not for the jab of the needle, but for the relief felt by our community’s older population – some born in the early 1930s – as some of the first Ontario residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine one year into the pandemic.
“They were simply overwhelmed and so thankful to be receiving the vaccine,” said Robinson. “Many people were relieved and excited. We heard from so many, how they are now one step closer to seeing their grandchildren, children, sister/brother. People commented that the clinic was not only efficient, but that every person they had contact with was so pleasant and kind. There were many kudos to the team.”
To manage distributing leftover shots – vials of vaccine must be used in full or risk being wasted – Robinson said if leftovers were likely, the team first called patients who were booked the next day in the clinic to see if they might be able to come a day early; then searched the HFMC database to see if patients born in 1946 or earlier had been booked for a vaccination or had already received one and call them in if not; and if additional older residents could not be found, health care workers supporting the vaccination clinic who hadn’t received their first dose were vaccinated.
The clinic required much support to run as efficiently as it did, and Robinson said that came together right from the entrance, with Dysart et al municipality supporting the event by providing paid parking passes for those attending the clinics, and members of the roads crew and park and rec directing traffic and handing out consent forms as people arrived.
“All participants that I spoke with were honoured to be part of the COVID vaccine roll-out locally – including me,” said Robinson.
Volunteers from Lakeside Church, spouses of other team members and county administrators screened and greeted patients, who were then coordinated by nurses. Medics in the observation area assisted with the checkout process and an administrator or clinician stood by in case of an adverse event. Staff from Haliburton Family Medical Centre, Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team and the Haliburton Highlands Health Services covered check-in, check-out, immunizing and observation. A nurse with Haliburton Highlands Health Services immunized each person – almost 2,000 participants, most people who were born prior to 1946.
“I was overwhelmed by the gratitude,” said Robinson. “I was also overwhelmed by the support of my colleagues, our community partners, and others. Team members of the HHFHT and HFMC put aside their daily roles and responsibilities to work in the vaccination clinics, which meant long days and late nights. We had administrators with the County of Haliburton, roads crew, Haliburton County Paramedic Service medics and administrators, retired physicians, spouses of our team members, members of the Lakeside Church community, HHHS and Community Support Services. They just got it done. I am so proud to be part of such a spectacular team.”
Locally, mass vaccination clinics will be held at the S.G. Nesbitt arena in Minden beginning April 6, and the A.J. LaRue arena in Haliburton beginning April 12.