Covid 19 Cooperation

PennMed & Mercy vaccinate 1500 Southwest/West residents

The initial check-in. PennMed & Mercy Health volunteers welcome two of the 1500 SW and West Phila. elderly residents who traveled to School of the Future for Covic-19 vaccinations March 6.

By Ted Behr

Coordinated and compassionate were the twin themes of the University of Pennsylvania Medicine/Mercy Catholic Medical Center – Mercy Philadelphia Campus team as they vaccinated some 1500 local residents on Saturday, March 6.  

The mass inoculations were given to mostly elderly or disabled persons from Southwest and West Philadelphia in categories 1A and 1B. They took place at the spacious, modern gymnasium at the School of the Future at 4021 Parkside Avenue in West Philly. 

Through the cooperation of some 40 area churches, the lucky participants were caringly guided through the process by more than a hundred volunteers. Dressed in their black tee-shirts and wearing confident and gracious smiles, doctors, nurses, and medical students were joined by many additional volunteers from area religious groups.  

Unlike the mass vaccinations which have taken place elsewhere, no long lines were winding out the doors of the spacious modern SOF gymnasium. As soon as people arrived and checked in, they were seated in spaced chairs indoors. Then groups of were six promptly reseated where vital information and permissions were taken, and well-informed medical staff took time to answer any questions and concerns. 

The second step: A Merch Health aide answers questions and addresses concerns of a Southwest couple seeking vaccination at School of the Future

Said Renée from Southwest, “The older members of our congregation were strongly encouraged by our pastor to take advantage of the inoculation because Penn Med and Mercy Health were involved. I was also confident because I’ve had injections regularly for flu, shingles, and pneumonia. So, I pretty much knew what to expect.”  

From these intake groups, individuals were escorted to one of the two dozen injection sites – identified by a health professional holding up an inviting blue placard saying “READY.”

Gloved-up and ready at one table was Jenny, a Penn medical student preparing for primary care practice. “It’s a joyous moment for us, actually being able to help people in need,” she reflected. “We can celebrate being part of this massive effort to overcome the pandemic!”   

The process of vaccination actually took about five minutes and under escort again, the pleased patients took their seats in the “monitoring” area where they waited for the prescribed 15 minutes for medical attendants to observe the nature and extent of any side effects – and where they proudly received their “I Been Vaccinated” stickers.  

The key moment. A PennMed physician gives the vaccine shot to a local resident.  

Sondra from West Philadelphia advised that “It took about two hours to get here using public transportation, but it was certainly well worth it in terms of my peace of mind.  

In the very few instances where vaccinated residents did feel some reaction, they were carefully taken to private, screened-off areas attended by doctors. 

According to one Mercy Health attendant, “The most difficult moments this morning was getting the older folks out of the winter coats and sweaters!”

This was the third clinic in the past month where the PennMed/Mercy partnership provided vaccination. The previous sites were Myers Recreation Center on 58th Street where 750 were vaccinated and the Church of Christian Compassion on Cedar Street which handled about 550 persons. These places will be the location for the required second follow-up inoculations.  

the phase 1A and 1B priority groups outlined by the City of Philadelphia’s vaccination guidelines.

A high point in the morning’s routine was a visit by Mayor Jim Kenney provided words of encouragement to Phil Okala, chief operating officer and Dr. P.J. Brennan, MD, chief medical officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Chris Cullom, President, Mercy Catholic Medical Center and Sharon Carney, MD, chief clinical officer, Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic. 

 “First of all, this is an area of great need,” said Dr. Brennan. “That’s why we’re here. We’re trying to reduce disparities; we’re trying to overcome the hesitancy in the community and reach a population that has really been affected by this pandemic.”

“We are proud to partner with Penn Medicine to increase vaccine access in West [and Southwest] Philadelphia,” added Cullom, “At Mercy, we are deeply committed to serving this community and ensuring our community members – especially those who are underserved or most vulnerable – receive compassionate, high-quality care. These clinics are crucial to providing accessible vaccination opportunities to our patients so that together we may defeat COVID-19

(The photos and indispensable help at the immunization site were provided by Angelica Flynn, Senior Account Executive, AKCG at Public Relations Counselors

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