by Rachelle Schultz, EdD, Winona Health president/CEO

 

On March 11, 2021 — one year ago to the day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic — a long line of community members were wrapped around the north side of our campus, eager to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

Three months after vaccinating our first health care provider at Winona Health — on December 18, 2020 — we’ve been vaccinating priority groups as supply became available, and we’re now to the phase where vaccine supplies seem to be flowing more steadily.

In the state and locally we have hit a pretty good threshold of vaccination for the over-65 population – and on March 9, the governor and the Minnesota Department of Health expanded the criteria so that anyone under 65 with underlying health conditions could now get the vaccine.

As vaccine was made available through the county or pharmacies, our waiting lists were becoming cumbersome due to the number of people who had received their vaccine. So, this week, our team tried a new process of holding a walk-in vaccination clinic

As you might imagine, when we hold a walk-in clinic, we don’t really know how many will show up – and we had a set amount of vaccine (400 doses in this case). Our area media did a great job of spreading the word to community members.

When I arrived for work, there were people lined up around the end of the building. People showed up even before 7 a.m. (the vaccination walk-in clinic opened at 8 a.m.). At one point, the line went out around the Parkview Office Building and through the back parking lot all the way over to Lake Winona Manor. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of our 50-degree days, and there was a light wind. Nevertheless, the folks who came braved the weather and the line to get their vaccine. 

I hope people know how much our staff cares about them and for this community. The entire team of folks involved in our vaccination clinic – screeners, registration staff, those providing guidance on the vaccine second dose dates, pharmacists drawing up the doses, vaccinators, guides to the observation rooms and monitors in the observation rooms doing a check out with each person truly cares. After a long year of worry and concern for our community due to COVID, I can tell you the joy is palpable for staff and for those getting their vaccination.

Comments from people coming through all of the vaccination clinics have consistently been extremely positive and thankful – noting how smooth and efficient the whole process went. Those kind words go a long way toward brightening staff’s spirits after some long days.

All of this work reflects Winona Health’s mission, vision and values. The vaccination clinic is simply one example, as this kind of dedication can be witnessed across so many areas of Winona Health. However, the line of people coming to our walk-in vaccination clinic Thursday was like an exclamation point on the importance of being here to take care of our community.

We will continue to keep media and the community informed about vaccine availability at Winona Health and invite those interested to visit our website or follow us on social media, as well.