Volunteers and patients share their thoughts during the final day of the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at Seattle University's Campion Hall.
Friday, Feb. 26 marked the final day of the Swedish Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle U. As we look towards the future of COVID-19 vaccinations for our community, including the recently announced Lumen Field Events Center mass vaccination site, volunteers and patients receiving their vaccine spent the final hours of the clinic reflecting on its success for the community.
The clinic employed some 8,000 volunteers, both clinical and non-clinical, to keep it in operation since it opened Jan. 12. One frequent volunteer and retired OB/GYN, Mary Whitman, was giving out her 1,000th vaccine on the final day of the clinic. She says the clinic has been a ray of hope. As she administered doses, she saw strong emotions and overall joy from patients.
"It's better than Disneyland, it's the happiest place on earth," Mary Whitman says. "It’s the best to be volunteering and being a part of history."
Mary Whitman (right) getting ready to administer her 1,000th vaccine.
Non-clinical volunteers also found great satisfaction in the clinic. One volunteer working alongside Mary said that this was her first medical field volunteer opportunity, and that she continued to volunteer her time at the vaccination clinic because she was looking for a way to support ending the pandemic and that the clinic's volunteer operation was well set up. Another non-clinical volunteer working in registering patients said he was skeptical at first that volunteers could operate a vaccination clinic. Now, he says he believes community involvement is essential to the operation.
Also vaccinating patients, on the final day of the clinic, was Seattle U Dean of the College of Nursing Kristen Swanson, RN, PhD, FAAN. In between administering vaccinations, she said she had a lot of gratitude that they were able to serve the community with this clinic at Campion Hall. She said it was also incredible her nursing students were able to volunteer at the clinic, learning while offering a public service.
"I call it a miracle in Campion Hall," Dean Kristen Swanson says.
Dean Kristen Swanson, who is also the Chair of the Swedish Board of Trustees, administering a vaccine.
The final day of the Seattle U clinic was also the day a majority of patients who received their first dose the early morning hours of Jan. 29 following a freezer failure at a local healthcare organization, returned to the clinic to receive their second doses. Most were happy to not be in pajamas this time around, including one Seattle family of three who said they were impressed with the clinic both Jan. 29 and on the day of their second dose.
"We waited until around 2 a.m. when they had finished vaccinating eligible patients and had leftover doses. For me, it was emotional watching some of the older folks receive their vaccinations and knowing how good it must have felt for them," one family member said.
Some of those eligible folks came from all over the Puget Sound that night in the hopes of getting their first dose, including three folks who traveled from Federal Way.
Retirees Joe, Stanley and Caroline all said they heard about the freezer failure on the 11 p.m. news and drove to Seattle in their pajamas. All three had struggled to book appointments for their first doses despite meeting the eligibility requirements.
As they received their second doses on the last day of the Seattle University clinic, they remarked on the relief it gave them and hope towards the future. Stanley and Caroline were looking forward to seeing their grandchildren for the first time and Joe was hoping to check on his residence in California.
Three patients after receiving their second doses the final day, Feb. 26. All rushed to Seattle U from Federal Way for the Jan. 29 overnight clinic.
Several officers in the Seattle Police Department also received their second doses on the final day of the Seattle U clinic. One officer says his squad was relieved to receive the vaccine the night of the freezer failure, after witnessing one of their officers hospitalized for months fighting COVID-19, and taking months longer to recover.
Gratitude surrounded Seattle U on the final day of the clinic, from the patients lining up to receive their second doses after random luck offered them their first dose Jan. 29, to volunteers who were looking forward to continuing helping with the future Lumen Field Events Center mass vaccination. Gratitude continued as well when local restaurant Din Tai Fung donated food for all the volunteers on the final day.
Restaurant Din Tai Fung donated food for all the volunteers on the final day of the Swedish Vaccine Clinic at Seattle U.
As the Seattle U clinic comes to a close, we know the lessons learned on the power of community and collaboration will continue, both as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we follow our vision for Health for a Better World.