Diligent Nurses Vaccinate Warrensburg Community

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Photo by Skye Melcher

Ashley Holmberg, employee health nurse for Western Missouri Medical Center, sits with nurses Jacquelyn Addington and Carly Kellogg preparing COVID-19 vaccines for patients at Milestones Barn. “The thing I like about it is everyone who comes here wants the vaccine,” Holmberg said. The team of nurses said they have had a very positive experience working the clinics.

Written by Skye Melcher, Features Editor

  The nurses at Western Missouri Medical Center have been working diligently since the first clinic, held on Jan. 29, to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to the community. According to Missouri’s COVID-19 Dashboard, “An estimated 12.2% of Johnson County’s 54,062 persons have initiated vaccination. This means that 6,578 first doses have been administered. In total, 10,125 doses have been administered.”

  Along with the daily lives of the community changing, COVID-19 has also changed how the nurses work and how stressful their lives have been.

  “As an employee health nurse, my main role is just taking care of our employees, making sure they are healthy and safe, and I feel like that has evolved into the community,” Employee Health Nurse Ashley Holmberg said. “My focus has not just been on our employees, but now it’s expanded to our community here in Warrensburg and making sure everybody feels safe and can be vaccinated.”

  Along with caring for the employees of Western Missouri, Holmberg leads the COVID-19 vaccine clinics for the hospital.

  “My main role here with the clinics is I work with a team to organize places to do the clinics,” Holmberg said. “I come set up every day. I try to find staff for the clinics. When I’m here working, I’ll help vaccinate if things get a little backed up. I’m the one that reconstitutes it, draws it up and makes sure we have enough for each person that is coming in.”

  During clinics, one can find Holmberg sitting at a table in the middle, checking on how much of the vaccine is left, drawing up syringes filled with the vaccine for each patient coming in and distributing them to the nurses giving the vaccine. 

  This has been the first pandemic that many healthcare workers have worked through or experienced in their lives. 

  “None of us have ever worked through a pandemic before, so this is all brand new territory and everyone is kind of learning as we go,” Holmberg said. “It’s definitely been stressful. There is uncertainty, and it can be a little scary. But I feel like, at Western Missouri, we have such a good team that it’s really brought that stress level down.”

  While the nurses run the clinics and help vaccinate the community,  Emergency Management Program Administrator Kimberly Lockard helps prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine clinics, but also worked with Western Missouri’s infection preventionist to prepare the hospital at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.  

  They prepared personal protection equipment books, isolation and negative pressure rooms and precautions to keep both patients and employees safe. 

  COVID-19 has become the healthcare workers’ day-to-day lives, with hundreds of hours spent in overtime.

  “I prepare for disasters, so with something like whenever COVID hits, it takes up all my time,” Lockard said. 

  Nurse Practitioner Jacquelyn Addington has worked a couple clinics but has also worked as an intensive care unit nurse in the COVID-19 unit, where patients can take up to three weeks to return home. 

  “I’ve worked at a couple of clinics, it’s been very rewarding, and it’s been very honoring,” Addington said. “I can’t tell you how many thank yous, how many tears we’ve had. My patients have said they’re able to go and see their grandkids now. It’s been very positive.”