Coronavirus: Clark, Champaign County lean on volunteers to assist with vaccinations

Patricia Hart, a voluteer at the Clark County Combined Health District's COVID vaccine distribution center, gives a Clark County resident his COVID vaccine shots at the Upper Valley Mall Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Patricia Hart, a voluteer at the Clark County Combined Health District's COVID vaccine distribution center, gives a Clark County resident his COVID vaccine shots at the Upper Valley Mall Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark and Champaign County have been looking to volunteers to help keep their COVID-19 vaccination clinics running smoothly.

As of Thursday afternoon, Clark County had administered 20,787 vaccination shots, according to the Ohio Department of Health, or about 15.50% of the county’s population.

That’s among the highest county vaccination rate in the state — a feat the county would not have been able to accomplish without the help of volunteers at their clinics, Kyle Trout, communications coordinator for the Clark County Combined Health District said.

Trout said volunteers have been a part of nearly every aspect of vaccination clinics in Clark County.

“We have volunteers helping register people for their first and or second doses. We have volunteers performing vaccinations and we even have volunteers doing things like pushing wheelchairs, helping people in and out of cars and providing translation services for individuals who may not speak English,” Trout said.

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Dr. John Dobson has volunteered with the CCCHD since the health district opened its vaccination clinic at the Upper Valley Mall in December. He assists at the clinic by administering vaccines.

Dobson said he made the decision to volunteer because he had the training and felt like he wanted to “do something good for humanity.”

“If you have the patience and you’re good with people and want to do something good for our community, and the world, by all means, you should think about volunteering,” Dobson said.

Trout said without volunteers the health district’s vaccination clinics, which currently has the compacity to give up to 1,000 doses a day, would be “much smaller, would run much slower and would not be able to provide the level of care that the CCCHD prides itself on.”

Dr. Catherine Crompton, trustee for the Community Health Foundation and former president of the CCCHD’s board of health, agreed with Trout. She said when she saw how smoothly the county’s clinics were running, she too stepped up to volunteer.

“The reason it’s so well organized is because of all the volunteers and all of the efforts everyone is putting in here. Putting in to be a part of the solution, and hopefully, it’s our ticket to freedom,” Crompton said.

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Trout said the number of volunteers the health district has at one time changes from clinic-to-clinic and also on the time of day.

“Some people can help in the morning, some can only help after work, some can help for a few hours in the middle of the day,” Trout said.

But a majority of the volunteers come from the Ohio Medical Reserve Corps.

Ohio Medical Reserve Corps offers unpaid volunteer positions made available through the Ohio Department of Health. Nearly every county in the state has its own set of medical service corps volunteers that they can call on for different reasons, like assisting with pop-up flu shot clinics for example.

The Champaign Health District also pulls volunteers from the MRC.

The CHD began seeking volunteers in November with all levels of medical experience, as well as those without, to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations. Health commissioner Gabe Jones said the county sought volunteers through social media posts, press releases and “any channel we could think of to see if people were willing to help.”

“Without the volunteers, we would not be able to conduct our clinics as efficiently and effectively as we are currently,” Jones said.

Jones said the staff at the health district is small and has been stretched thin since the pandemic began nearly a year ago.

“We are extremely grateful for anyone who has helped us not only at our clinics but also behind the scenes,” Jones said. “There is a ton of work that goes into everything we do and with such a small staff we able to do a lot more with the volunteers who help us.”

Both Jones and Trout encourage those interesting in volunteering to register with the MRC.

Recruitments to sign up include: must be over 18 years or older, must comply with any training requirements, must ensure profile information is up to date at all times, must complete all required fields when filling out the application and must complete MRC orientation, according to the MRC’s website.

Those interested can register online at ohioresponds.odh.ohio.gov.

Champaign County residents can also register on the health district’s website (champaignhd.com).

Clark County had 12,162 cases of the coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, according to ODH. The county also had 320 deaths and 14 probable deaths, according to data from the CCCHD.

Champaign County had 2,838 cases and 45 total deaths, according to ODH.

Facts & Figures:

15.50: Percentage of Clark County’s population that has been vaccinated for COVID-19, as of Thursday

10.59: Percentage of Champaign County’s population that has been vaccinated for COVID-19, as of Thursday

18: Age residents have to be to volunteer at Clark, Champaign County vaccination clinics

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