A Covid Reflection with Thanks

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By Peter Hiller

I have recently had the privilege of working as a non-clinical volunteer for the Montage Health Vaccine Clinic — initially at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and more often at Montage Wellness Center in Marina. Over the course of my volunteer time, I have seen from more than a thousand people to as few as 75 come through the clinic to get their COVID vaccinations during the course of a day.

As one of the many volunteers in the non-clinical work roles, each of us willingly took turns doing anything from directing people traffic, to disinfecting chairs in the waiting area, to passing out snacks and offering “I’ve Been Vaccinated Stickers.” Many of these volunteers gave up sleeping in to be up at 6 a.m. so they could be at the clinic on time, and never have I heard a discouraging word; in fact, the words have always been supportive and positive.

The other side of this story involves the people who got up even earlier — those who are the trained professional clinic workers who do the more medical side of the work including organizing the clinics. Many of these workers were employed in other positions in the Montage system and were plucked from their jobs to create an amazing system for administering vaccinations to community members.

As with so many societal pivots brought on by this pandemic and based on the fortunate availability of the coronavirus vaccinations, these talented people created a new infrastructure along with procedures, flow charts and scheduling plans out of thin air, so that community members could easily and safely get their vaccinations.

Many saw the profession they trained for put on hold as they worked at the clinics – others willingly came out of retirement and joyfully found themselves working again with former colleagues to do the same.

The act of getting a shot for any reason is often not on the top of the list of how a person wants to spend part of their day. With that in mind, it was consistently touching to see how gently and caringly everyone worked to ease individuals of many ages through the process.

As time went on, Montage offered clinics at different locations in the community in an effort to make vaccinations available as conveniently as possible. This meant devising new systems and work flows based on each new facility. It also meant that often the clinical workers set up back-to-back clinics at different locations with only a few hours to get home and sleep in between – amazing.

As June 22 will be the last clinic Montage will offer, it only seems appropriate to offer a heartfelt and gigantic thank-you to all of the people involved in making the Montage Health Vaccine Clinics a reality. As many people now move back to their “real” jobs, and others get to sleep in, I hope they know what an outstanding job they did in terms of guiding our community through one of the most demanding eras I have ever witnessed.

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Peter Hiller

About Peter Hiller

Living, raising a family and working in Monterey County for just 37 years has brought great joy to Peter Hiller. A former local art teacher, Peter finds retirement to be the perfect opportunity to explore his curiosity about numerous matters related to living in this paradise.