WESTON, Vt. – On Feb. 17 and 20, nurses from the Springfield Hospital’s Covid-19 vaccination team debuted at the Weston Playhouse Theater Company’s Walker Farm and played to rave reviews. One might ask, “How did this production land at the theater in Weston?”
When the state announced that vaccinations would be offered to Vermont residents, Regina Downer, Community Nurse Advocate with My Community Nurse Project, began advocating for a local vaccination site for folks in the mountain towns. She engaged in conversations with state officials, hospital administrators, and the theater company’s executive director to discuss the exciting possibility of collaboration and permission to host a vaccine site in Weston.
With hospitals located more than 25 miles away and medical specialists as far as 45 to 60 miles away, Downer hoped that the Vermont Department of Health would understand the benefits of granting a vaccine site in the heart of the mountain towns. What could be more fitting than the Walker Farm Stage of the Weston Playhouse? The Walker Farm Stage offers easy access from Route 100 in Weston, handicapped accessibility, large open space for the nurses to set up vaccination stations, plenty of room for appropriate social distancing, and a spacious parking area.
Susanna Gellert, executive director of the WPTC, gave permission for use of the space. In a joint effort between My Community Nurse Project, Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, and Springfield Medical Care Systems, the Health Department recognized the benefits of community collaboration and granted final permission for two vaccination days at Walker. When registration for vaccination was opened to age-appropriate Vermont residents, the two days became fully booked almost immediately.
Vaccinations were administered with great skill and care by the nurses from the Springfield Hospital vaccination team, coordinated by Sue Pollard, R.N. Upon entering the Walker Farm, residents who preregistered signed in and patiently waited less that 10 minutes for their Covid-19 vaccination. Volunteers Bill Hoyt, Kieran McKenna and Heidi Root, board members of My Community Nurse Project, provided assistance when needed for sign-in and completion of registration forms, in order to facilitate timely vaccinations. Each resident was well cared for from the moment they entered the building to their exiting.
Pollard stated that over 200 vaccinations were administered Feb. 17 and an equal number are scheduled for Feb. 20. Residents received the Moderna vaccine and were scheduled to return for their booster vaccination March 17 or 20 at Walker Farm.
This was certainly a well-directed production and a fabulous joint effort on behalf of our community. Tremendous applause for the nurses’ professional management of the event, for the playhouse operations manager Nathaniel Vilandre’s hard work in setting the stage for the team of vaccinators, for Michael Savage and Jason Harrington, who ensured a safely cleared, well-sanded parking area, and for My Community Nurse Project for keeping a finger on the pulse of healthcare needs in our mountain towns.