GGC students, faculty spend hundreds of volunteer hours helping administer vaccines
Students and faculty from the nursing program at Georgia Gwinnett College gave up their free time to volunteer at several local COVID-19 vaccination sites. Four faculty have been volunteering to give vaccinations with the Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale (GNR) Health Department and 20 students worked in the mass vaccination clinic at the old Sears building at Gwinnett Place and at Kaiser Permanente.
Together, the students and faculty have helped administer thousands of vaccinations, said assistant professor of nursing Dr. Jeffrey Fouche-Camargo.
“These students worked 12-hour shifts giving vaccines, which of course includes screening patients to make sure they are eligible,” he said. “They also worked in the observation area where all patients must be observed for 15-30 minutes following vaccination. They have not only gotten tons of experience with vaccinations but have gained invaluable experience with how mass response to a public health crisis is conducted.”
The students’ time counts towards their required clinical hours, and the faculty hours are all volunteer hours, said Fouche-Camargo. Faculty volunteer through an organization called Medical Reserve Corps, which also trains non-clinical volunteers to help with processing patients and supporting the clinical staff.
“We register with the organization, and once verified, we receive on-site training about the processes at the clinic site. We then work 6-hour shifts, giving one vaccine after another at the mass vaccination clinic, which has as many as 2,200 patients a day.”
The faculty volunteers worked alongside the staff nurses from the GNR Health Department giving vaccines, screening each patient first. They then record the event, provide the patient their vaccine card, and educate them about follow-up. As of this writing, GGC faculty had volunteered 255 hours giving vaccines in Gwinnett County.
“Having been an active ICU nurse for 25 years, watching my colleagues on TV and hearing the stress they were enduring made me want to do something,” said Dr. Diane White, dean of the School of Health Sciences. “I decided that when the vaccines were available, I would get vaccinated and assist in helping others get immunized, which in turn helps my colleagues who treat COVID patients. Many times, nurses are the sole providers to those patients as they transition from life to death. I volunteer to not only help my community but also to do what my ICU nurse colleagues cannot do as they are on the front lines.”
Fouche-Carmago says the program will continue through the summer, adding additional locations as the mass vaccination site winds down.
“It has been tremendously rewarding to help get our community vaccinated,” Fouche-Camargo said. “And I think this is a great example of how GGC has helped this community during the pandemic.”