The COVID-19 pandemic has affected physician mental health and has become an important focus in our response to it. To that end, one of the best things I’ve done for myself lately has been working at our vaccine clinic providing medical oversight.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 40 – No 04 – April 2021
The first time I had a shift in the clinic, we were vaccinating our hospital coworkers. I found myself happily chatting with colleagues I hadn’t seen face to face in almost a year. It was so refreshingly normal. It felt like a family reunion in the best way, a welcome reminder that better times are coming for all of us who have been on the front lines of this crisis.
We quickly opened up the vaccine stations to the general public. We all know the patients we see in the emergency department do not want to be there if they don’t have to. They’re scared and worried and not in a good place physically or emotionally. It was a different experience to tend to those who had worked hard to secure a vaccination slot and were excited to be there. I felt my spirits lift as I spoke with people who had just received their shots and were waiting patiently to be dismissed.
Our vaccine station, located in The Ohio State University basketball arena (to allow for social distancing) is the most crowded place many of these people had been in a year. We are vaccinating up to 250 people per hour and up to 3,000 people a day. Some described feeling anxious and out-of-sorts. As we monitored them, we assured them these feelings were normal considering everything they had been through this year, and we got to share their relief at taking this step toward normalcy. The arena was filled with a sense of hope, and it was contagious.
If you get an opportunity to work your local vaccination clinic, I say go for it. After having a front-row seat to so much despair, it feels incredible to spend a few hours surrounded by hope and gratitude.
Dr. Adkins is an associate professor of emergency medicine and pulmonary/critical care medicine, vice chair of clinical operations, and associate chief clinical information officer at The Ohio State University.