March Introduces New Clinic

ST.JOHNSBURY- February was the start of Northern Vermont Regional Hospital and Northern Counties Health Care teaming up to provide vaccination sites all around Caledonia County... but the month of March welcomed a new clinic at the Green Mountain Mall.

March 1st was the opening day for the clinic, after a long time of preparation and organizing to get everything ready. When the clinic first opened up the vaccination site was open Tuesday to Sundays, besides Saturdays. Then adding Saturdays into the mix towards the middle of March to accommodate capacity.

The First month of the clinic being open only supplied the first dose of covid-19. As soon as the second dose was being supplied to the vaccine site, capacity started to shift. "It was a little bit of a lower volume, we would be getting anywhere from 100 to 150. Now that we are in the second dose we have anywhere from 250 to 300 a day," Vaccine Clinic Director, Jesse Dimick said. Dimick says that the process for patients coming through the clinic is fairly simple, besides registration.

"Once they got here, they found the flow pretty easy. They were in and out fifteen to twenty minutes of getting their vaccine," Dimick explained. The clinic receives over 500 doses a week, while mobile clinics get 300 doses a week. "We are up into the three thousand range of people being fully vaccinated. We have done close to six thousand vaccinations," Dimick said.

The people working at the clinic normally show up thirty minutes to an hour early to make sure that the space is properly cleaned and ready for patients. "We like to arrive no later than seven thirty because we prepare our stations that we work at. We get the alcohol prepped and the gaws, and the band aids the way we like them. You're able as a vaccinator to put a little personal slant on how you work best, get your vaccines drawn up. Look at how many people there are for the day," Midwife, Anea LeLong explained.

That patient to vaccine distributor relationship is really important, in terms of trying to make each person comfortable to get their vaccine. Some people come into the clinic excited, but some come nervous or have anxiety about the needle. But most people coming into the clinic are older, and are happy they get to have that social interaction. After some not being able to leave their house in months.

"This is kind of their life back in a way, this is kind of the first step even to be able to go out and do stuff again. To see family that they haven't seen in over a year, a lot of people have grandchildren that they haven't met yet due to covid. So this is an exciting step for them," registered nurse Hannah Wilkins said.

"We are unclear what the landscape looks like past June or July. The question is are we going to need boosters, will we need a stand alone clinic to just handle vaccinations between flu vaccines and boosters," Dimick said. NVRH and Northern Counties Health Care are not sure how the space in the Green Mountain Mall will be used after vaccinations are no longer needed. One thing for sure, the two health care organizations will continue to work together, as they always have.