Over the last few months, HouseCalls, a home-based primary care program, worked alongside community agencies such as the Berrien County Health Department, PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), and Area Agency on Aging to provide over 1,200 COVID-19 vaccinations to home-based individuals in Southwest Michigan.
Considering the complexity of vaccine doses per vial, and the extremely cold temperatures required for storage, HouseCalls nurses worked with Spectrum Health Lakeland pharmacy staff to develop a plan to effectively schedule, transport, and administer the vaccine in a timely manner to as many home-based community members and their caregivers who met the eligibility requirements.
While the logistics of this effort may have been challenging at times, everyone involved shared an overwhelming sense of joy in being able to help protect our most vulnerable friends and neighbors from COVID-19.
“We know we are making a difference and saving lives,” said Sam Felton, manager of supportive care services at Spectrum Health Lakeland. "The collaboration between multiple agencies and areas of the health system to accomplish a feat like this has been outstanding.”
An added layer of protection
Grand Junction resident David Smith is the primary caregiver to his 89-year-old mother Delores and his 91-year-old father Roy. As David’s parents started aging, he stepped in to help guide them through the health care system. As his parents’ mobility declined and more specialized care was needed, a family friend suggested HouseCalls. David and his parents have been using the service for the past three years.
When David and his parents found out about the COVID-19 home-based vaccination program they jumped at the chance to be vaccinated. Delores compared the COVID-19 vaccine to her memories of when the polio vaccine was developed and the sense of relief both were able to bring.
Besides a sore arm, everyone in the Smith family reported no side effects from the vaccine and are grateful to have the added layer of protection it provides.
A rewarding experience
Dwan Spriggs’ mother volunteered with Caring Circle until she died last September. When Dwan heard that Caring Circle was looking for volunteer registered nurses to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine in homes, she immediately signed up in honor of her mother.
Dwan’s favorite part about giving the vaccine is the 15 minutes she is required to wait with the patient afterward to make sure there are no adverse side effects. She loves talking with and making a genuine connection with each person she meets. She also shared that she doesn’t miss an opportunity to visit with any of the family pets and will happily show off pictures of her “pups” as well.
“Being able to provide vaccinations to people who are home-based has been a rewarding experience that I am so appreciative to be a part of,” said Dwan.
Community members share their “why”for getting a COVID-19 vaccination.
Benton Harbor resident, Velma Shaw, signed up to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as she was able to, and encouraged her twin sister, Thelma, to do the same. Both sisters have lost people close to them from COVID-19 and wanted to do their part to protect themselves and their family by getting vaccinated.
Velma’s daughter, Rosemary Edwards, works for HouseCalls and was able to help Velma, and her aunt Thelma, sign up for an appointment during a community vaccination clinic. Velma’s powerful advice to others: “Don’t be afraid. Get the shot. Save your life or the life of a loved one.”