Students assist at vaccination clinic

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That is how senior nursing student Hannah Colvin describes her experience volunteering at Washington Health System’s Vaccination Clinic. 

“As a nursing student, I normally thank patients in clinical settings for letting me take care of them. However, at this clinic I was the one getting thanked for what I am doing,” Colvin said in an email. “It feels great to be able to help push this country in the right direction and be able to care for the community.”

As vaccine rollout to Phase 1A candidates continues, Waynesburg University is finding ways to assist the local community in its response to COVID-19. The University is specially able to do this through its partnership with Washington Health System (WHS), where students like Colvin are currently volunteering. 

“We are incredibly proud of our students and faculty in our nursing, exercise science, athletic training, criminal justice and Bonner Scholars programs who have volunteered to assist with Operation Vaccination – a rollout of the vaccines to the community in southwestern Pennsylvania,” Stacey Brodak, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and University Relations, said in a prepared statement.

Due to their varying skills, Waynesburg University volunteers are participating in two separate facets: clinical activities and non-clinical activities. 

“There’s a clinical experience, which is reserved for the junior and the senior nursing students … It is reserved for them for the actual vaccination component,” Kathy Stolfer, director and professor of nursing, said. “But there’s an additional component where we’re permitted to have the students engaged in some of the ‘non-clinical’ activities. Where they’re assisting with other aspects of the clinic and operation that is beyond just the injection itself.”

According to Kelley Hardie, Assistant Dean of Student Services and Director of the Center for Service Leadership, non-clinical activities include serving as escorts, assisting with information distributions, wiping down tables and chairs and helping anywhere else that is needed.

Prior to participation in the vaccination clinic, students received training based upon their volunteer role. 

“It was optional if students wanted to receive the vaccine, but training prior to volunteering was provided to the students to educate them about their volunteer role,” Hardie said in an email.

Because resources are limited in hospitals, Colvin said, “all hands truly need to be on board to distribute these vaccines as quickly as possible.” 

When WHS needed additional resources, Brodak said Waynesburg University was willing to provide such resources.

“Service is a critical element in developing tomorrow’s leaders who, as caring individuals, will have an important impact on the world around them,” Brodak said in a prepared statement. “Waynesburg University has an opportunity to be an important part of history by serving our community during arguably one of the most significant events of our lifetimes. Waynesburg University students continue to fill us with pride.”

Assisting at WHS’s Vaccination Clinic provides students the opportunity to not only serve southwestern Pennsylvania but rather the entire nation and its fight against COVID-19. 

“Our students are participating in an opportunity to create social change within the Greene County community. By helping with the vaccine clinic, our students are able to help stop the global pandemic,” Hardie said. 

Even though student volunteers aren’t able to see the greater impact of their service, they are still receiving gratitude at a local level.

“It was super humbling to be there because every individual was so thankful,” Colvin said. “I had a couple of people get teared up talking about how blessed they felt to get their vaccine.” 

Colvin said it feels great to not only be able to care for the community but also to push the country in the right direction towards how it was pre-COVID-19.

Waynesburg University is already moving towards how it was pre-COVID-19 with “some normalization of activities,” as stated in a campus-wide email from President Douglas Lee on Wednesday. 

“Subject to certain guidelines, limited University spectators are permitted at University athletic events, and we are also implementing processes to permit campus-related organizations to resume in-person meetings,” President Lee said in the email. “The opportunity for in-person chapel attendance continues, and we are carefully exploring other ways to bring things more in line with pre-pandemic activities.”

Even though President Lee said Waynesburg University is moving in the right direction, regarding COVID-19, he said each student needs to continue to play their part in following the Keep Waynesburg Well Plan.

“Please continue to do your part to press on to a successful conclusion of this semester. It has been a long and challenging journey,” President Lee said. “Mrs. Lee and I pray that all of you continue to stay strong in your faith and keep each other in your prayers.”