Community vaccine clinic chance for peopleCare to give back
They came to the Tavistock arena in a steady stream all day long. Seniors, young working mothers, family caregivers. First responders, farmers and factory workers. All with one goal in mind: roll up that sleeve and get the COVID vaccine job done.
Kelly Blum’s grandmother lives in a nearby long-term care (LTC) home and is visited regularly by Kelly’s mom, her essential caregiver. Without being vaccinated, Kelly herself hasn’t felt able to see her grandmother in person in over a year.
“Standing in line I just felt such a wave of gratitude,” said Blum. “I can’t wait to see my grandma again. It makes a world of difference when she can see familiar loved faces.” With her energetic 4-year old Vaida in tow, Kelly also noted how important vaccines are, so kids can play with their friends again and get back to school sometime soon.
peopleCare and Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) teamed up to host the one-day pop-up vaccine clinic in Tavistock, Ontario on May 19, and after sending out the invite through the local Family Health Team and social media, very quickly signed up over 400 people for first or second doses.
COVID vaccine clinics have proven popular and effective in rural areas, as travel to options located in larger urban centres can be challenging. Frontline healthcare worker Sarah popped over on a break from work at a local LTC home to get her “shot of hope.” Along with being the best way to protect herself, Sarah says she got vaccinated for her residents. “Love them, love their stories!”
The clinic was organized by Jenn Killing, peopleCare’s Vice President, Quality, Research and Strategic Partnerships, and Joanne Sylvester, RN from SWPH. Eligibility targeted families in hot spots, seniors, LTC home workers and essential family caregivers, along with first responders and essential workers. For some local seniors, like Ron Wettlaufer, the short trip to the arena ended a very long wait for this much-needed protection.
“I was thrilled that peopleCare organized this clinic,” said daughter Debbie Holtzworth, who cares for Ron at home. “It was very helpful and we’re so grateful for this opportunity to protect Dad.” Ron’s health makes outings incredibly challenging, so the ability to get Ron’s vaccination so close to home was perfect for the pair.
For peopleCare, the clinic was an opportunity to give back to a community and partners who went above and beyond in supporting our residents, family caregivers and staff with the gift of vaccination back in phase one of the rollout. Immunization for LTC residents is a success story across Ontario – with COVID outbreaks in LTC homes plummeting since the beginning of the year.
Brent and Heather Gingerich are the family who own peopleCare Communities. They joined other volunteers from the organization’s leadership support office and local LTC home, cleaning and screening people in throughout the day. Brent – who worked at Tavistock LTC from a very young age – believes clinics in smaller towns are indispensable so no one gets left behind in this mass immunization effort.
“We jumped at the chance to come and help out today,” added Heather. “There’s nothing more important for all of us right now than getting every single person vaccinated.”
Since COVID vaccinations first became available to LTC priority groups at the end of 2020, peopleCare has experienced some exciting moments, including first residents in Waterloo region vaccinated at a peopleCare home (Beautiful Bride Makes History, Receiving Vaccine) and a resident of peopleCare Tavistock’s “best present ever,” (Senior celebrates 95th birthday with Second COVID Vaccine Dose).
peopleCare’s ongoing priority is to work with public health to enable onsite vaccination in all of our Homes. LTC homes have delivered onsite immunization programs for decades and this approach would ensure timely first, second and booster COVID shots for all of our priority groups.
Feedback from attendees about the efficient set-up and process at the Tavistock clinic was super positive and by 4 pm , peopleCare and SWPH had vaccinated a total of 439 people.
“We had entire families here today, priority one seniors who did not have the transportation or the ability to travel to other clinics, and so many others who will now have this COVID-19 protection,” said Killing. “It has been unbelievably exciting and rewarding to collaborate with our community partners and give back in this most impactful way.”
peopleCare would like to thank local business owners Doug and Chantell Sparling at Tavistock’s D&D Homestyle Cuisine & Café for providing a delicious boxed lunch for clinic volunteers, generously subsidized by their healthcare worker fund, made possible by local donations.