As the sun set on a warm and breezy May night, it did too on the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Sanford Imagenetics.
Once the COVID-19 vaccines were given the A-OK by the CDC, Sanford Health immediately worked on opening a mass vaccine clinic dedicated solely to getting shots in arms in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Since opening the doors on Dec. 15, 2020 and closing them on May 27, 2021, the clinic administered 101,705 COVID-19 vaccinations. It’s a remarkable feat, but the expression “many hands make light work” certainly applies.
Dedicated staff needed
To pull off an ongoing event of this magnitude, a lot of parts needed to be played. Patients needed to be checked in and registered, vaccines needed to be allocated, stored, prepared, and administered. Further patient scheduling also needed to be done.
But, every need Sanford Health had was met with enthusiasm.
Paula Mofle was a patient access supervisor for the clinic, helping to register all the patients. She said it was a lot of work, as you can probably imagine, “but it didn’t seem like a job at all.”
“I picked up a lot of shifts on Saturday mornings at 6:30. Would most people do that? Probably not, but, it’s something I felt good about doing,” she said.
She wasn’t the only one who picked up as many shifts as possible.
Retired LPN, and current PRN nurse Toni Halverson, worked three days a week to administer the COVID-19 vaccines. She decided to work as much as possible because she wanted to play her part in beating COVID.
“This was truly a way for our society to get back together, and get out of their houses and mingle again. Even my own family, we weren’t able to get together much,” she said.
However, they were able to get together at the COVID clinic. Why? Because Grandma had to take care of her family.
“I have two daughters that live in Sioux Falls. They’re married and they have children. So, as the (vaccination) age group dropped and dropped, I was able to vaccinate my whole family.
“My husband, my son-in-laws, my daughters, my grandkids — it was amazing,” she recollected.
Camaraderie amid COVID vaccinations
When asked what they’ll remember most about the experience, both said “connection.” Connection not only to their co-workers, but to the patients.
“This is interesting, but lots and lots of people wanted to have their picture taken while they were receiving their vaccine. And, that was a fun time. We made it fun for them.
“Recently, I went to a funeral and two people at the funeral came up to me and said, ‘You gave me my COVID vaccine at Imagenetics,’ and they showed me a picture of me giving them their vaccines. It was fun because I didn’t even know them, but they remembered me,” said Halverson.
Pharmacogenetics pharmacist Kristen Jacobsen, who helped prepare the vaccines, said the natural camaraderie and friendships made the work process smooth.
“It truly as a team effort. We were specifically involved in making the vaccines, but we were also able to help answer questions that patients and even providers had.
“We got to build and develop so many relationships amongst other disciplines. Nursing staff, schedulers, it was really a very cohesive team effort. It couldn’t have worked in any other way,” she said.
Bittersweet ending for career nurse
After friendships were formed and lives were saved, it’s a bittersweet ending to a special accomplishment.
If you ask Toni Halverson, there’s no better way to go out.
“I’ve been a nurse for about 52 years. It is a profession that I have always loved. This was a really great way for me to end my career as a nurse. I’m ready to retire again, and this is a great way to go out.”
Here’s the final stats of the clinic:
- 101,705 vaccinations
- 52,019 patients
- 37,813 hours staff have worked at the Imagenetics clinic
- 690 staff
- 12 pharmacists
- Pharmacy staff have worked over 7,500 hours
- Volunteers worked for over 1,000 hours
- Valet staff worked for over 700 hours
The end of the COVID-19 clinic doesn’t mean the end of vaccinations. If you’re not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you can still schedule an appointment, or walk in, at any primary care clinic across Sanford’s communities.
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