HCA Healthcare colleagues share their feelings of hope and belief that the end of the pandemic is near with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.
At the end of what many would consider the most challenging year of their careers, colleagues across HCA Healthcare now share a sense of relief and hope. Here, a handful of our frontline caregivers reflect on the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and their unparalleled significance.
HCA Healthcare colleagues began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in mid-December. Among them was Elaine Myrtle, a respiratory therapist at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota in Sarasota, Florida.
“I felt like I could breathe. It gave me a little bit of peace and security knowing that I am that much healthier to take care of my patients,” she says.
On Dec. 15, 2020, hope arrived at Alaska Regional Hospital, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, Sky Ridge Medical Center and HCA Virginia as the first HCA Healthcare affiliate hospitals to receive shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Vito Capotorto, chief of staff and hospitalist medical director for Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, was the first colleague to receive the COVID-19 vaccine among HCA Healthcare’s 185 hospitals.
“I feel like we live in a historic moment in a historic pandemic, and I’m honored to be the first,” Dr. Capotorto says.
For healthcare worker and cancer survivor Dana Hubbard, there were multiple benefits in receiving the vaccine. Dana, director of cardiac critical care units and the COVID-19 unit at HCA Healthcare’s Chippenham & Johnston-Willis hospitals in Richmond, Virginia, was in the first group of colleagues at her hospitals to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“It’s like a light at the end of a tunnel, and I’m so grateful,” Dana says. “I feel relieved that I can fully hold my 2-month-old grandson without fear. I also feel more protected, not only as a healthcare worker, but also as a cancer survivor.”
“It’s like a light at the end of a tunnel, and I’m so grateful.”
— Dana Hubbard, director of cardiac critical care units and the COVID-19 unit at HCA Healthcare’s Chippenham & Johnston-Willis hospitals in Richmond, Virginia.
Moved to Tears
Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines is determined by current supplies and follows a tiering system developed in accordance with national, state and local guidance to prioritize those at greatest risk of exposure. Frontline caregivers have been chosen to be some of the first to receive the vaccine. As vaccines become more widely available, updated communication will be shared regarding the opportunity for all colleagues to receive the vaccine over time.
The vaccine, literally, moved some colleagues to cry tears of joy. Keerstyn Allen, a registered nurse in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at HCA Healthcare’s Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, received the vaccine in mid-December.
“I’ve never cried happy tears for a shot in the arm. Nine months of literal blood, sweat and tears — so many tears — has a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Keerstyn.
“I decided to receive the vaccine because I wanted to make a positive impact in my community,” says Eboni Gordon, RN, 12 Tower – COVID Unit at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I encourage everyone to get vaccinated so that families and friends won’t have to continue to experience the heartache and pain of losing a loved one. It’s devastating to witness despair and pain in your patient’s eyes.”
Vaccine is Pivotal to Ending Pandemic
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our caregivers, whether at the very front lines or in supporting roles, have been selfless in answering the call to care for others,” says Dr. Jonathan Perlin, president of clinical operations and chief medical officer at HCA Healthcare. “The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine represents a pivotal moment in this pandemic. We know vaccines are the safest and most effective way to combat this virus, and we have implemented a comprehensive plan to distribute them — starting with our frontline colleagues.”
Although the vaccine isn’t mandatory, HCA Healthcare believes it’s a major step toward ending the pandemic. Vaccine deployment doesn’t change our organization’s commitment to all elements of universal protection, which have been the mainstay of our COVID-19 safety program to date. Protocols include wearing a mask, practicing good hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing.
- Read vaccine-related FAQ on the hcatoday blog.
- Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding COVID-19 vaccines can be found here.