Harford Nursing Students Participate in COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics Throughout Harford
Harford Community College’s nursing students had a unique learning opportunity helping the county Health Department and UMUCH staff COVID-19 vaccination clinics for seniors.
Harford Community College nursing students were presented with a unique learning opportunity this spring when the Harford County Health Department and University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health reached out looking for assistance in staffing COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Vaccinations in nursing homes had taken place earlier in the year, but the Health Department was concerned about independently living seniors who may not have transportation or internet access. The clinics focused on senior housing units in Harford County, such as St. John’s Tower in Havre de Grace and Parkview at Box Hill in Bel Air.
Fourteen second-year nursing students from Harford volunteered to participate in the clinics, which started with a training module on the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Johns Hopkins. Each student was paired with a registered nurse at the facility and was involved in every step of the vaccination process, including assisting with screening, providing education, preparing the vaccine itself, administering the injection, and assisting with the monitoring of the patient after the vaccine had been given. In total, the HCC nursing students have conducted clinics at seven senior housing units with an additional clinic scheduled for next week. “In this clinical scenario, I was learning how to administer intramuscular injections but also teamwork. The clinic was running in synchrony because everyone did their duties well and collaborated with each other,” said Alice Wangari, one of the HCC nursing student volunteers.
“The residents were friendly and grateful for the opportunity to be vaccinated. The experience was extremely fulfilling, and I felt both fortunate and proud to be a part of the effort to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Renee Loftus, who volunteered at the Bel Air Senior Housing complex on Sunflower Drive. “It was a blessing to have the opportunity to help our community in fighting this pandemic. It’s been a tough year for many people and this was my contribution to making it feel safe again,” added Tina Ross, another volunteer student from the College's nursing program.
“One of the vaccine clinics I volunteered at was targeted to the Hispanic/Latino population in Harford County. I left the clinic feeling so fulfilled because 209 people who could not communicate in English were able to get all the information required to administer the vaccine, get their questions answered and worries addressed. Many people had hopeful and relieved faces after they got the vaccine administered. I feel thankful to have been part of the group to aid in this effort,” said Stephanie Pelaez-Ortega, a bilingual HCC nursing student who volunteered for this additional clinic for Spanish-speaking members of our community.
“This has been a great opportunity for our nursing students to gain clinical experience, as well as provide service to the community during the pandemic,” said Jessica Powers. Ms. Powers, the Course Coordinator for nursing students in their final year, oversaw the scheduling process and assisted the students at some of the clinics. She also had them keep track of their experiences in a journal. Laura Cianelli Preston, Harford's former Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, came out of retirement to help coordinate COVID-19 relief efforts for the College and was instrumental in arranging with UMUCH HealthLink to create this opportunity for Harford's nursing students. Discussions are currently underway about other future opportunities for the College's nursing students to continue their spirit of volunteerism and hands-on education in the community.