‘It’s Vaccine Day’

JRMC frontline employees receive first doses of vaccine in Jones Co.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Monday morning, Dec. 28, was a memorable day for sure at UnityPoint Health – Jones Regional Medical Center (JRMC) in Anamosa. Before the sun was up, employees of the local hospital were given the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Jones County.

     People were declaring Monday “Vaccine Day” as they made their way to the private room where the vaccine would be administered.

     JRMC administered doses of the Moderna vaccine. Those in line to receive the first and second doses of the morning were Shannon Frink, infection preventionist and in-patient nurse with JRMC, and Bethany Lehman, who serves on the Anamosa Ambulance Department for JRMC. Administering the doses was Employee Health Nurse Karen Janko, as well as Frink.

     Frink, of Anamosa, worked with hospital officials and Jones County Public Health to plan for the vaccine rollout where JRMC employees were concerned.

     JRMC Marketing Specialist Bailey Strait shared that JRMC received 300 doses of the vaccine, the first shipment to arrive in Jones County. Forty-five JRMC were scheduled to receive the vaccine on Monday.

     JRMC categorized employees into four different tiers based on level of direct patient care. Those who were in Tier 1 or Tier 2 previously received e-mails advising them of the opportunity to get the vaccine. Frink said those in the top two tiers included EMS (Anamosa Ambulance personnel), those working in the ED/ER (emergency department/emergency room), and medical-surgical staff (those who work within the in-patient unit).

     “It was entirely self-schedule,” said Frink of the first-come first-served process.

     “It’s based on who’s most likely to come into contact (with a COVID-19 patient),” added Strait.

     Before employees could schedule their first vaccine dose, they had to read up on the Moderna vaccine in terms of what symptoms to expect following the shot, how the vaccine itself was made, and general information about the vaccine.

     “We got the Moderna vaccine because it did not require ultra-cold storage capabilities,” Frink explained, compared to the Pfizer vaccine.

     From there, they either accepted or declined the request to schedule an appointment.

     “JRMC highly recommended employees get the vaccine,” said Strait, noting it was not required at this time.

     Within the next two weeks, all JRMC employees who wanted to receive the vaccine would have done so.

     Frink has been with JRMC for six years.

     “I am very excited,” she expressed of being the first to receive the vaccine in Jones County.

     As for why she chose to get the vaccine, Frink said there were several reasons.

     “It’s important for herd immunity,” she said. “And I’m a huge advocate.”

     She said getting the vaccine is one step closer to getting back to a somewhat normal life.

     “I also got it for my patients and my family,” added Frink, who contracted COVID herself earlier this year.

     “I got better,” she said, noting that several of her family members are more susceptible to getting it and perhaps not recovering as fast.

     “It’s scary,” continued Frink. “But I want to be a good role model and that’s why I got the vaccine.”

     As for the side effects being reported by those who have already received the vaccine, Frink said that those within a single department were asked to stagger their appointment dates and times so they didn’t all get the vaccine at once.

     “We wanted them to be aware of when each other were getting it,” Frink said, noting that there could be pain in the injection arm and fatigue associated with the shot.

     Lehman, of Cedar Rapids, has been with the Anamosa Ambulance Department since April of this year.

     “It’s pretty great,” expressed Lehman of getting the vaccine. “It’s exciting, and one step closer to seeing my family. I want to be able to do that again.”

     Lehman moved to Iowa just to be closer to her family members and grandparents in Eastern Iowa.

     “I want to see people again, I want to see my family again,” she said. “I haven’t seen them in months because I didn’t want to get my grandparents sick.”

     Janko, who not only administered the shots but planned to receive the vaccine herself, thought it was an awesome day to finally see JRMC employees get vaccinated.

     “It’s been a long time coming,” she said.

     Janko has been with JRMC for two years, and with St. Luke’s/UnityPoint Health for 21 years.

     “A lot of people here and in the general population are interested in getting the vaccine,” she said. “That’s a good thing.”


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