Health sciences students, faculty wage war on Covid-19

By Luanne Williams

Health sciences students and faculty members at Wingate continue to make a difference in the fight against Covid-19, most recently with their focus on administering the vaccine.

About a dozen School of Pharmacy faculty members, 14 pharmacy students and several occupational and physical therapy students are set to volunteer Saturday, April 10, as VaxClinic offers up to 5,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Monroe.

“The Wingate University School of Pharmacy is always pleased to support our community, and in this case, our alumni, by helping to vaccinate area residents,” said Andrew Woods, associate professor of pharmacy. 

Samantha Howard, a 2015 School of Pharmacy grad, founded the Charlotte-based VaxClinic, which is now licensed to practice in nine states. Another alum, Joseph Bero, Class of 2013, joined forces with Howard to help scale the business.

Saturday’s event, set for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., will be held at South Piedmont Community College at 4209 Old Charlotte Highway in Monroe (Building A, Conference Center).

Susan Bruce, the School of Pharmacy’s new dean, will be among the volunteer vaccinators.

Already this year, between mid-January and mid-March, 42 Wingate volunteers in the pharmacy and physician assistant programs spent 340 hours helping deliver vaccines at Blue Ridge Community College in Hendersonville, as part of a partnership with Pardee Hospitals and BRCC. Four students also assisted with a separate Advent Health clinic. During the same time period, 20 volunteers worked about 65 hours at Union County Health Department vaccine clinics.

“I think everyone has been excited to participate and contribute to finding a solution to the pandemic and everything that has thrown us for a loop over the past year,” said Michelle Chaplin, assistant dean of pharmacy. She said students, faculty and staff have worked shoulder to shoulder to help deliver the vaccine in Henderson and Union counties.

In addition to giving shots, Wingate volunteers have helped draw up individual doses, monitored patients for adverse reactions, and handled non-clinical chores such as cleaning, directing patients and restocking supplies at the clinics.

“Anytime our students can be involved with the treatment of patients in real-world settings, it gives them valuable experience in patient communication, and in this case, experience with vaccination and sterile preparation,” Chaplin said. 

Fourth-year pharmacy student Lora Holloman from Fayetteville, North Carolina, has appreciated the opportunity to help protect high-risk populations from the virus.

“One of my close friends just lost her father to complications with COVID-19. He tested positive towards the end of November before the vaccination was available,” Holloman said. “My hope is that fewer families will have to deal with the heartache she is facing because they were able to receive the vaccine.”

Chaplin said she was especially glad that health sciences students were considered essential medical workers and able to get vaccinated early this year (they were part of Group 1B), opening the door for more of them to serve the community safely.

“A lot of times people view students in these situations as add-ons, but considering them as part of that healthcare team is important,” she said. “They are positively contributing to the community and the healthcare settings where they are serving.”

On the University’s Wingate campus alone, the Health Center has given about 800 vaccinations since March 10 with help from health sciences students, faculty and staff. Two clinics this week were geared toward students, nearly all of whom are now eligible for the vaccine per North Carolina guidelines. A clinic on Friday was also open to students’ family members who are 18 or older.

April 9, 2021

 

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