Good Samaritan Hospital begins vaccinating frontline staff

December 23, 2020

As part of the nationwide effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital received a partial shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine Monday and began administering it to front-line colleagues and providers this morning. Among those working to administer the shots was hospital President Tanya Adcock, a registered nurse.


“We are excited about the safety and effectiveness of this first vaccine and others that are going through the FDA review and approval process,” Adcock said. “These vaccines hold the promise to end the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives.”

Among the first colleagues and providers to receive the vaccine at Good Sam were Dr. Barry Baker, Emergency Department; Dr. Craig Colby, Chief of Medicine; Dr. Kristina Collins, Chief of Emergency Medicine; Tina Childree, RN, Emergency Department Manager, Dr. Dave Ringer, Medical Staff President, and Jacki Gruszynski, speech-language pathologist.


In these initial stages, while vaccine supply is very limited, St. Mary’s Health Care System is following state guidelines for determining which colleagues receive the vaccine first. At the top of the priority list are colleagues who provide face-to-face care to large numbers of patients with COVID, including physicians, advanced practice clinicians, and staff in areas such as the Emergency Department and Nursing Unit. Next priority will be patient-facing staff who provide care to large numbers of patients not known or suspected to have COVID.


“It’s something of a miracle that science has delivered a safe and effective vaccine in just a year from the eruption of a deadly new virus,” said Dr. Jason Smith, St. Mary’s Chief Medical Officer. “The key was the work done on messenger RNA vaccines over the past two decades, driven by the need to fight other novel viruses such as MERS and SARS. That research led to the development of this new generation of vaccines, which use mRNA to teach the body’s immune system how to recognize and fight the virus without having to use any of the virus itself in the vaccine.”


The first doses delivered to St. Mary’s were manufactured by Pfizer. St. Mary’s has also requested hundreds of doses of a vaccine developed by the Moderna pharmaceutical company, which was approved by the FDA Friday for emergency use and does not require ultra-cold storage. In all, St. Mary’s has asked the State of Georgia to provide enough vaccine to vaccinate all colleagues, medical group providers, and credentialed physicians.


Adcock noted that vaccinating enough of the population to stop the spread of COVID-19 will take time.


“With the start of vaccination, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not out of the tunnel yet,” she said. “With the holidays starting and COVID rates continuing to rise in our state and region, it’s more important than ever for the whole community to redouble their efforts to fight this virus.”


Adcock said it will be necessary to stay vigilant for several months by continuing to wear a mask in public, keeping good social distance, and avoiding large gatherings. Other measures, such as washing hands often, sanitizing surfaces, and staying home if feeling sick, are effective at fighting all kinds of viral illnesses, including the flu, and should become a regular part of daily living.


“We know all these steps can slow or even stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed,” she said. “We need to mount one last push to keep each other safe while our nation and world vaccinate billions of people, and then we can put this pandemic behind us.”


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