National Nurses United

National Nurse magazine April-May-June 2021

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[Bakersfield] hospitals represented by CNA. We had multiple Covid units. So when the vaccine came out, I wanted to help regardless of where they were." Reding arranged to take a week off from work as an operating room nurse to drive more than 110 miles south on Sunday, March 14, to begin her stint at the clinic the following day. Her accommo- dations in Los Angeles were covered by IMC. For the RNRN volunteers, the days began at 8 a.m. with drawing doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or Janssen vaccines for the first hour or so. Each vaccine had its own syringe type and needle gauge. Kedren staff tracked the vaccines throughout the day, making sure there was enough left for people who were receiving their second dose and that no dose was wasted. Tents were set up at the beginning of the initiative in March, including one tent to receive people 65 and older. People lined up for hours. All three vaccines were being offered. "This was medicine, pure and simple," noted Reding. "Everybody gets a shot. You know you are having a direct impact and that this is going to help them, their family, and their community." Maureen "Mo" Berry, an RN who recently retired after 34 years as an emergency department nurse at UC Irvine, also volunteered in March during the same week as Reding. Berry says it was the perfect opportunity for her to give back to the community. "It was a fantas- tic experience," said Berry. "It was nice to bring hope by providing Covid vaccines to an area that has been devastated by the virus." Berry and Reding both saw a wide range of ages and people of color being vaccinated, including younger generations bringing elderly par- ents, aunts, and uncles. "I saw the younger generation assisting with translating," said Berry. "It was such a different experience from work- ing in the emergency room. People were dancing in the waiting area after they got their shot. I could see the smiles in their eyes." Brenda Rojas, an RN in the telemetry stroke unit at Kaiser Per- manente Los Angeles Medical Center, wanted to volunteer because she saw so many people suffering from Covid, particularly Black and Latinx patients. She took personal time off to volunteer the week after Berry and Reding. "I love public health and it was a great opportunity to help people who were so affected by Covid," said Rojas, who is a certified Spanish interpreter in her hospital and used her skills to interpret for clinic staff. "People had many questions about the different vaccines and whether there were any restrictions if they were undergoing cancer treatment, already had Covid, or were pregnant or breastfeeding." Working in the vaccine clinic was especially meaningful to Roseann Devlin, an RN in the oncology unit at Providence Little Company of Mary, and Manuel Belderol, RN, who works in the rehab unit at Keck Hospital of USC. They each got Covid last year and volunteered in early March. Devlin got Covid in December, in between her vaccination doses. She struggled through shortness of breath, decreased oxygen satura- tion, terrible bouts of coughing, and a too-fast heart rate. Due to her existing health conditions, she was unable to take any of the new drugs to ease her symptoms, but she was able to go back to work after nearly three weeks off. Last year during the pandemic, Belderol's rehab unit had been closed a few times so he was reassigned to different units, including Covid units. He contracted Covid in March 2020, lost his sense of taste and sense of smell for two weeks, and suffered from excruciat- ing back pain before he began feeling better. He spent two months recovering at home before he was able to go back to work. Unfortu- nately, he also gave Covid to his family, including his wife, an RN at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, and his son. His daughter tested positive but was asymptomatic. Luckily, no one in the family needed to be hospitalized. Devlin said that volunteering for the clinic helped to "dilute" her experience since the beginning of the pandemic: seeing terrified patients gasping for air and full of anxiety, being worried about not having enough personal protective equipment to do her job safely, and going through the chaos of the surges when her facility was so overwhelmed by the influx of Covid patients and many units became Covid units. Devlin also went through the deep grief of losing some of her facility's health care workers to Covid. "As soon as I heard about the clinic, I signed up," said Devlin, who had not taken a break since early 2020 and decided the RNRN deploy- ment was a good time to use her accrued vacation because her hospital's census was low. "I think it's important to get as many people vaccinated as possible because we know it's only a matter of time when the more infectious variants arrive. We are so close to LAX [Los Angeles Interna- tional Airport] and I want to prevent our hospital and all other A P R I L | M AY | J U N E 2 0 2 1 W W W . N A T I O N A L N U R S E S U N I T E D . O R G N A T I O N A L N U R S E 13

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