As a former critical care nurse, Jill Price, PhD, MSN, RN said she felt compelled to roll up her sleeves and help heal the masses when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out last March. Now the senior director of post-licensure programs at Chamberlain, it had been 10 years since she was a practicing frontline clinical nurse and she explored all opportunities to support healthcare efforts during the pandemic.
Called to make a difference, Dr. Price signed up as a volunteer for the Kauai Medical Reserve Corp (KRMC) where she lives, joining the first wave of vaccinators through the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 Vaccination Program. In mid-December, when Hawaii received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine, Dr. Price joined the league of KMRC volunteers and DOH staff dispensing the vaccine.
Staged at a desk in the Kauai Convention Center, the team inoculated about 300 people in the first six hours and more than 900 Kauai police officers, firefighters, transportation safety administrators and healthcare professionals working in correction facilities during the next three days.
“The [pandemic] is a life-changing event for so many of us,” said Dr. Price. “That’s what we do in healthcare, we serve. When COVID hit, the nurse in me felt so bad because I wanted to do something to help. It felt so good to volunteer and get back into the clinical swing of things.”
The first healthcare workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are part of history, but so are Dr. Price and others administering the vaccination.
Dr. Price worked five-hour days, her water bottle planted on the desk, with no breaks, as trails of hundreds of people, six feet apart, waited to be vaccinated. Moving forward, she has been tapped to help during the next phase when teachers, and then postal and other transportation workers and leaders in the travel industry will be inoculated.
“The staff kept giving me patients with food and medication allergies, those that had to carry EpiPens because their allergies were so bad, and said it was because I am a former critical care nurse,” said Dr. Price, who was a critical care nurse for 17 years before becoming an educator. Many of the other volunteers are retired physicians and healthcare professionals.
The rural island of Kauai where Dr. Price lives with her husband and two children ages, 21 and 18, has fared well with a low number of coronavirus patients. A statewide travel quarantine kept Kauai’s 72,000 residents mostly healthy until October, when the state launched a pre-travel testing program and the viral disease started spreading, according to a USA Today article.
Dr. Price also received her COVID vaccine on Dec. 22, 2020. She said she had some slight soreness at the injection site, but felt “otherwise good.”
Her efforts are already inspiring other Chamberlain leaders to take action. Sherrie Palmieri, DNP, MBA, RN, CNE, CPHQ, national dean of faculty, reached out to Dr. Price to say she was inspired and joined the Arizona Reserve Corp to assist with vaccinations.
“It’s been a rewarding opportunity to put my nursing background to use to really help during this,” she said. “I look forward to doing everything I can until we can eradicate this pandemic. I’m hopeful that we can get all people to get the vaccine and go back to safety.”
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