Nebraska’s rural hospitals start rolling out COVID vaccines

News was at Memorial Community Hospital Wednesday in Blair for an up-close look
Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 5:50 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s the moment they’ve been waiting for; Nebraska’s rural hospitals are starting to roll out the COVID vaccine, and 6 News was at Memorial Community Hospital Wednesday in Blair for an up-close look.

“I’m thankful that it’s here. It’s been a long time coming,” said physician assistant, Bruce Town, shortly after getting the vaccine. “Even though it’s been historically very quick to bring a vaccine to market, it’s been a long, long nine, 10 months you know.”

Three-hundred doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived at Memorial Community Hospital Monday.

“We heard last week that we would be getting Moderna just because it’s easier for us to store,” said Manny Banner, President & CEO, Memorial Community Hospital & Health System. “The facilities in the Metro area have low freezing temperatures, we don’t have those freezers, but we can store the Moderna.”

And as the vaccines are doled out, every dose is accounted for. “Once you open a vial you have six hours to use. it’s a pretty precious commodity,” said Kathy Brester, one of the nurses administering the vaccine, noting the planning has to be spot on.

“The scheduling’s a little bit of the challenge. The doses are 10 dose vials, so you have to make sure you have groups of ten because you definitely don’t want to waste a dose,” said Brester.

For the most part, the process has been running smoothly.

“From what I know about Pfizer there are a lot more steps, so we’re very lucky to have the Moderna, especially as a small hospital and not having pharmacy 24/7,” said Kaylee Smith, Infection Prevention Nurse.

The pharmacists are doing the prep work and then handing the vaccine over. “It has to be thawed by pharmacy, they give it to us, we invert it a few times and we’re good to go,” said Smith.

Offering some hope to those on the frontlines; lining up for the first of two shots. They’ll be back in 28 days for the second . . .

“Finally, it’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Lana Thompson, one of several nurses vaccinated Wednesday. “We’ve been waiting a long time to get this under control.”

Memorial Community Hospital and Health System has about 150 employees to vaccinate; that includes both the hospital and their clinics. They’ll also be vaccinating EMS and other frontline workers in Washington County.

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