The Smithers campus has been busier than usual as eager residents are lining up everyday outside the building to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.
Northern Health Authority’s primary care nurse, Sandra Stanley, is leading the makeshift clinic set-up at the east end on campus. She says the response has been overwhelming as they rush to give everyone the shot.
“There is a lot of joy here, it’s a very happy place. People are excited to see the beginning of the end of this long, drawn-out pandemic,” she says.
“Plus they’re stoked to not be at risk anymore. I’ve seen many people jump up and down while cheering and taking selfies.”
With over 1,000 people coming through a week at times, Stanley says they have a team of great staff to keep up with the line. Alongside the community nurses, physicians and paramedics, they also have eight volunteers who oversee registration and other items.
Just a few weeks ago, they hit over 10,000 vaccine shots given at their Smithers clinic at Coast Mountain College.
For Stanley, the most important part is being able to reach the remote communities surrounding the Smithers area. Their clinic has partnered up with First Nations Health Authority and the Dze L K'Ant Friendship Centre Society to bridge any obstacles or apprehensions that some Indigenous persons may have with accessing the clinic.
“We’re very glad to have their presence on site as it's been helpful numerous times where we've had Indigenous folks come in. They help them work through the system and since it's harder for some people in more remote areas who don't have access to a good access to make appointments, they help with registration,” Stanley says.
“We’ve also had people triggered by different settings or uncomfortable with needles, so they assist us with a trauma-informed approach to make it comfortable for everyone.”
Stanley says they urge everyone to register online but are open to walk-ins at the end of the day as they understand some people have jobs with irregular schedules — depending if there are enough doses leftover for the day.
“The process is pretty quick for people to go through who are registered but walk-ins have an added another layer of complexity. We sometimes ask them to come back another day, especially since there is a short vaccine supply right now.”
Operating on the campus, Stanley says it’s been a joy working with the College to make this clinic happen. The space is the perfect fit for all their needs and within walking distance for many as it’s close to the downtown core.
“We’ve only had positive feedback about this location. People love this set-up as it’s pretty fluid, and we can have the doors and windows open so it’s bright and light in here,” she explains.
The Smithers vaccine clinic will continue to run as long as they are required by public health authorities, to distribute both first and second doses. The clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is closed during lunchtime.