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Mercy Health vaccine team helps deliver almost 50,000 vaccines to those in need

The team overseas all aspects of making sure the vaccine is safely stored, delivered, and administered.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 7:09 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The people that come through the doors of the Mercy Health COVID-19 Vaccine clinics are the most vulnerable to the ravages of the disease. So far, that’s 50,000 people, including seniors, frontline healthcare workers, first responders, and teachers. The vaccine team at Mercy has been working seven days a week at times to make sure people get protected.

“It’s such an incredible feeling for the staff to see the hope and optimism that they’re giving people that haven’t been out of the house in many cases for over a year,” says Matt Sapara, who oversees every clinic. Sapara says one woman at the very beginning of the effort echoes the sentiments of most people who walk through the doors.

“She was so genuine,” he says. “She was so overwhelmed, she was tearing up and of course it got me tearing up and everyone’s crying and it’s such an incredible feeling.”

“I’m kind of like the vaccine guy,” says Phil Nelson, who oversees the safety of the vaccine. “I’m the one that controls the receipt storage and then the distribution of the vaccine.”

Given the delicate temperature storage requirements of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, this is not a small task. Most important Nelson says: “Making sure by the end of the day we don’t waste any doses.”

“I feel honored to be entrusted with it and I take it very seriously,” says Amy Files. She runs the team that registers each dose with the state so there’s a record for each person vaccinated. At the very beginning of the pandemic, Amy was in charge of registering the COVID-19 testing results. Now that the vaccine is out she’s seeing a very positive shift in those cases.

“We were seeing 30 to 40 a day,” she says. “We may see like 10 a week now.”

And in case you’re wondering if we had a plan for something like this, Registered Nurse Dave Wellons was in charge of that.

“My background is emergency medicine disaster management so we’ve been practicing this since 1995 with all the biological terrorism that was going on around that time,” he explains. But as with everything related to the virus, there was a curveball.

“We were planning was like a smallpox vaccine mass distribution,” he says. “What we didn’t plan for was having to do two doses.”

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