For 92-year-old Shirley Stockero, life is about to get “a little more back to normal.”
Stockero is one of thousands who have gotten their COVID-19 vaccination through the Cottage Community drive-thru vaccine clinic. On the first day it opened last January 15, just 500 vaccine doses were administered. Now, the clinic has steadily increased capacity, providing a total of more than 3,750 vaccine doses at the two clinic dates last week. It has plans to expand the clinic further to provide up to 2,000 vaccines per day, up to six days a week, when vaccine availability increases.
“This is a big day for me,” Stockero said about getting her vaccine in the drive-thru line. “And I feel fine. I didn’t even feel it go into my arm. I’m just ready to have a little more normalcy.”
But if doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are needed for patient care in hospitals and doctors’ offices, who is keeping the vaccine operation running? Hundreds of volunteers are. There are over 850 volunteers helping to vaccinate the community, about 120 or so of whom are needed each day to keep the clinic running.
“This is my 13th time volunteering because it’s been so much fun,” said Kate Ford, president of the Santa Barbara School Board, who spends her spare time volunteering in the pharmacy tent. Though Ford doesn’t have a background in medical work, there are still plenty of jobs for non-clinical volunteers. Ford is responsible for running the doses from the pharmacy tent and distributing them among the nine car lanes.
“It’s really gratifying to feel I’m at least doing something to help and to hear the gratitude and relief expressed by everyone who comes through the lanes,” Ford said. She said that many of the older folks who get vaccinated are grateful and sometimes bring gifts to the volunteers, like flowers, See’s Candies, or lollipops.
The time a patient pulls up in their car to check in until the time they leave the clinic is about 30-45 minutes. After check-in, cars are directed to their appropriate lane and wait until they can pull up to get their vaccine through the car window. Once vaccinated, the time of the shot is written on the outside of the vehicle. Patients must wait 15 minutes before they can leave.
“I’m known as the thumbs-up guy,” said retired physician Dr. Alan Brown. “We chat with the patients after their 15 minutes and ensure that they aren’t experiencing complications. We really haven’t had any serious reactions.”
Brown said he had just retired a month ago after working at Cottage as a cardiologist since 1981. His main role as a volunteer is to give patients the “thumbs-up” that they are safe to drive away and leave the clinic.
“This is a truly happy place,” Brown said. “People are celebrating their vaccines.”
Cottage’s greatest volunteer need is for licensed clinical professionals, like Brown. These professionals can be active or retired. Click here to sign up.
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