As the COVID-19 pandemic began driving systemic changes around the globe in early 2020, on Drexel’s campus, groups of students, professional staff and faculty began to form dedicated teams to help the University respond to the public health crisis. From the case investigation teams, to COVID-19 testing teams, to contact tracing teams and finally to vaccination teams, these heroic individuals play a critical role in keeping the Drexel community safe and informed from the outset through the present time.
“After months of building the infrastructure for COVID investigation, testing and tracing, it was a welcomed moment to arrive at the point of community vaccination. Leading this team of incredible professionals, across so many disciplines, has been life-changing and the dedication has been inspiring. Being able to deliver the vaccines to our community made every extra hour and long day worth the effort, because we knew it would save lives,” says Kymberlee Montgomery, DNP, senior associate dean of Nursing & Student Affairs and chief academic nursing officer.
As vaccines became available, an incredible team assembled at Drexel to help vaccinate the University community. From healthcare providers, students, faculty and professional staff, countless individuals played a critical role in helping to set up spaces and processes and provide vaccines to the Drexel community.
“It was an easy decision to get involved,” says Dana Kemery, EdD, director of Innovative Course Design and Technological Infusion and associate clinical professor in the Undergraduate Nursing department, “it was imperative, as a former ER nurse, to lean in. I saw the impact the virus was having on my colleagues, and I had to step up and help in any way that I could. I was there at the end of the day, trying to make sure every dose was used and not wasted.”
Adrian Banning, DHSc, associate clinical professor in the Physician Assistant Department shares, “we have chosen these lives for ourselves [to be healthcare providers], and not being able to do anything to help for a while was very hard. My background is in primary care and the experience of giving vaccines, that disease prevention through vaccines, saves so many more lives than we think about even in non-pandemic times. Then, thinking about how every single person vaccinated mattered so much.…to see that we could impact the outcome of the pandemic through vaccination was huge.”
Inspired by the students both current and those who have graduated, Maryann Godshall, PhD, associate clinical professor in the Undergraduate Nursing department, says “what inspires me is to watch a student come in eager to learn and leave with a lot of knowledge to begin their nursing career. [After their graduation], I tell them, I am no longer Dr. Godshall, I am your nursing peer now. To have been a part of that knowledge building, watch them flourish as nurses, and get reports from them in the hospital, makes me so very proud. Also, being able to continue to teach them beyond the classroom setting, that is rewarding beyond words.”
“We are designed to move and change constantly,” says Deanna Schaffer, PhD, assistant clinical professor of nursing and director of Recruitment, Retention and Alumni Engagement, “and in my many roles at Drexel I have continued to look to the future and try to help move my team in the direction early. If you keep going and moving forward you will grow in a direction that you never imagined.”
Reflecting on the critical team effort, Genevieve Porrecca, MSN, assistant clinical professor and simulation education specialist in the Undergraduate Nursing department, says “I needed to help my community in any way I could. I had to get involved. Having previously worked with the Department of Health to vaccinate children against H1N1; I knew what I was helping with. The mindset to get involved. … it’s just a nurse. The opportunity to help people wasn’t something I had to think twice about – it is the heart of a nurse.”
Shared lessons and advice were consistent – “Be a helper,” says Kemery. “You’ll never go wrong by being kind,” says Banning.
COVID-19 VACCINATION TEAM
Pictured: Adrian Banning, DHSc, Linda M. Celia, DNP, Ferne M. Cohen, EdD, Jennifer Cummings, MSN, Ellen D. Feld, MD, Stephen Gambescia, PhD, Maryann Godshall, PhD, Dana Kemery, EdD, Kimberly McClellan, EdD, Kymberlee Montgomery, DNP, Kate J. Morse, PhD, Jennifer Olszewski, EdD, Alis Kotler Panzera, DrNP, Anna Pohuly, Genevieve M. Porrecca, MSN, Lori Ruskin, MSN, Deanna Lynn Schaffer, PhD, Helen L. Teng, PhD, Janet Zimmerman, MS.