By Shelley Farrington Lincoln News • February 25, 2021
MILLINOCKET – It’s more than a vaccine – its hope in a vaccine vile; it’s light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. It means plans can finally be made for that visit to the grandchildren or family reunion.
Millinocket Regional Hospital staff and volunteers felt that hope and heard those plan last week at the first mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic held at Stearns High School in Millinocket on Feb. 17.
Over 300 community members attended the by appointment only clinic and received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The second dose for these residents will be administered at a similar clinic on March 17.
MRH Infection Preventionist Todd Phillips, RN, BSN, MPH said he was truly humbled by the outstanding work of the MRH staff and volunteers and the uplifting spirits of the citizens who came to be vaccinated. He said he looks forward to hosting another clinic very soon.
Several MRH employees expressed their happiness and satisfaction at being a part of the clinic that gives community members tangible reasons to hope again.
MRH Marketing Coordinator Katie Mackin said she heard several conversations as she walked around the clinic checking with citizens and staff and all of them were upbeat and expressed citizens looking forward and making plans that wouldn’t have be thought possible weeks ago. She said MRH staff was also thrilled to be able to help bring that reason for optimism to the community.
It was a sentiment also expressed by MRH’s Julia Greenwald, PA-C who staffed the event.
“One of the things that was most striking about this clinic, much like when MRH was vaccinating employees, was the very palpable sense of hope,” Greenwald said. “It was so wonderful to chat with so many members of our community who shared that same hope we all had upon getting the first dose of this vaccine. Everyone was so grateful for the opportunity to move forward toward “normal” again. This was so well organized. Our infection control team deserves a huge round of applause for this!”
MRH CEO Robert Peterson visited the clinic to express his appreciation for his staff and citizens who came to be vaccinated and do what they can to fight the pandemic.
“As I watch our community members receive their vaccinations, the sense of relief and hope for the future is clearly visible and palpable!” Peterson said, “After almost a full year of pandemic worry and concern, our residents are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel – it’s truly heartwarming to watch. I can’t help but think of other small, rural, and somewhat remote communities across the country that don’t have the benefit of having a local hospital.
“Our MRH staff has worked tirelessly to advocate for our residents and ensure that these lifesaving vaccines are obtained and administered. They deserve all the credit for these awesome clinics. Without MRH’s presence, these vaccines may not have found their way here for many, many months. That delay certainly would result in our community members remaining at a higher risk for contracting this deadly virus. It’s truly a great day in the Katahdin region!” Peterson continued.