December 18, 2020

“Today we vaccinated 61 health care heroes!” Stories, scenes from COVID-19 clinic

December 18, 2020

Thursday afternoon, Dec. 17, Cooley Dickinson Hospital opened its COVID-19 vaccine clinic to the hustle and bustle you would expect on any opening day.

With words of gratitude and encouragement, Cooley Dickinson Chief Medical Officer Estevan Garcia, MD, addressed the vaccinators and others working at the clinic and informally kicked off what would be the start of a history-making event: providing the first dose of a two-dose coronavirus vaccine to more than 60 Cooley Dickinson employees.

“Today we vaccinated 61 health care heroes. Angela and I were honored to witness Cooley at its best. The energy was joyful and optimistic,” Garcia said.


Chief Nursing Officer Angela Belmont, DNP, RN, also described Thursday as a hope-filled day. “Staff were happy; they were smiling beneath their masks, and I was so happy to be there to witness it. Our employees were truly grateful.”

Garcia and Belmont also thanked the Informatics team, led by Chief Informatics Officer and Physician Assistant Robb Levine, the volunteer vaccinators, and everyone who played a part in ensuring the logistics and workflows ran smoothly.

Cooley Dickinson’s First COVID-19 Vaccine

First to receive the vaccine at Cooley Dickinson was Emergency Department physician and Chief of Emergency Medicine Bobby Redwood, MD. Minutes before sitting down to get the vaccine from Emergency Department Nurse Case Manager and ED per diem RN Amy Hamel, Redwood described the atmosphere as “an air of hope.”

“For me, this was a personal milestone,” he explained. “This is a service to our community, to my family, and ultimately to the world. And this a pattern I hope we see spread like wildfire, because the more people who get vaccinated, the quicker we will get out of this pandemic.” In addition to giving him the long-awaited shot, Hamel provided Redwood with a Sharpie tattoo, which summed up the moment: the #1 and a tiny star. Hamel says she likes writing words or messages on her coworkers’ arms or on their band-aids to mark the moment.

From the First COVID Swab to Today

Hamel, along with Emergency Department physician Tor Krogius, performed the first COVID-19 swab of a community member earlier this year. “A phone call came in saying someone was being sent in. We were both standing nearby, looked at each other and shrugged. We said ‘let’s give it whirl.’ We got the supplies. We figured out what to bring with us, what to wear and how to stay safe. And we headed out to the ambulance bay.”

Fast forward 10 months.

“This vaccine makes me feel excited,” Amy said. “Relief is in sight. For primary care offices. For nursing homes. For daughters taking care of elderly mothers.”

After an afternoon of administering the vaccine, Hamel again put her skill and band-aid messaging to work.

Registered Nurse Nick Hebert, who works in the Respiratory Illness Clinic, received the shot just before the clinic closed for the day. In 2006, Nick got the 6-series Anthrax vaccine when he was in the United States Marine Corps. “This vaccine is important for public safety. I feel I am helping the rest of the community by getting vaccinated,” Hebert said. Against an artistically inked background of the globe, Hamel administered the vaccine. Then she applied her signature band-aid message, which read “for the world.”

In addition to nurses and doctors, other employees who are part of the WAVE A COVID-19 vaccination plan, received the vaccine, including Registered Dietitian Stacey Madden, below right, and Food Services Worker Daniel Flynn.








After employees received their vaccinations, they sat, physically distanced, in the designated observation area. The clinic continues today, with between 80 – 90 staff appointments expected.

Deliveries of More Vaccine
Like all hospitals, Cooley Dickinson is waiting hear from the state when the next allotment of vaccine will arrive but expect that to be within the next week or so.


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