BY ALEEN ARSLANIAN
Staff at Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center were given the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine. More than 150 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were administered at the hospital’s John Stauffer auditorium on Thursday, December 17.
The entrance of the hospital’s main auditorium had a line of pre-registered doctors, nurses, and staff waiting to be checked-in to receive their first dose. A number of hospital employees were working at different stations in the auditorium, including the registration area, the pharmacy prep area, two administration stations, the observation area, as well as emergency crash cart and gurney stations. Leslie Peck, Pharmacy Director of the hospital, said that the pharmacy was “assisting with diluting the vaccine and drawing up the doses.”
The COVID-19 vaccinations were administered by Glendale Memorial Hospital President and CEO Jill Welton and Chief Nursing Executive Officer Ron Yolo. According to Yolo, about 1,000 staff members would be vaccinated between December 17 and December 19.
Welton, who has more than 20 years of experience in the medical field, administered the first shot to Laura Kenegos, an Intensive Care Unit charge nurse of 41 years. Once vaccinated, Kenegos was asked to wait in the auditorium’s observation area, where staff were waiting to evaluate those receiving injections. “We’re making sure that we observe them for at least 15 minutes, to see whether or not there are any side effects from the vaccine,” said Mario Magsaysay, Manager of Clinical Informatics.
Dr. Gisela Rosario, an Infectious Diseases doctor at the hospital who received a dose of the vaccine, said that there are “minimal side effects – pain in the injection site, fever, and fatigue. But they are self-limited, so you get over it in one or two days.” She emphasized the importance of the COVID vaccine: “Applying social distancing, using your mask, washing your hands – these are the most basic things one can do. Now we have a way to have immunity, through the vaccine.”
According to Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Wang, the vaccine takes effect “10 days after the second dose. That’s when you get the 94 to 95 percent effectivity rating.” The second dose of the vaccine will be administered 21 days after the first dose. For the healthcare workers vaccinated at Glendale Memorial, a date has already been arranged for a second dose.
Dr. Douglas Thom, an Anesthesiologist at Glendale Memorial, called the vaccine “a step in the right direction.” After receiving a dose, he explained how we can collectively slow the spread of the virus by wearing our masks, social distancing, and getting vaccinated. “The general public unfortunately does not see just how bad it truly is in the hospital,” said Dr. Thom, who is confident that the vaccine will help return some semblance of normalcy.
“Currently, as the vaccine rolls in, we want to be a part of any community vaccination program,” said Welton. “We definitely want to get out there and make sure that our community gets vaccinated. When that happens – when the doses become more available, we’ll get involved with our city, with the county, and help vaccinate the entire community,” she said. According to Welton, Los Angeles County is experiencing a high COVID positivity rate.
“With COVID, we’ve learned so much about this virus. We have learned how it behaves clinically; treatments have changed. There’s one thing that never changes about COVID, and that’s how you get it. So, wear a mask always, wash your hands, and socially distance,” concluded Welton.