We recently wrapped up our fourth Covid-19 vaccination clinic in partnership with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Saskatoon Open Door Society, and the REACH Clinic. Specifically for refugees and immigrants, these clinics removed common barriers to vaccination. Hosted in GGP’s English Language Centre, clients were able to come to a comfortable location with familiar faces and access to interpreters. Not only have these highly effective clinics resulted in delivering nearly 900 doses of vaccine, they’ve also been joyful events for all involved.
“It was almost a festival feeling. People were excited to come,” said Lori Steward, GGP’s Refugee & Immigrant Health and Case Coordination Manager. “There was a lot of chatter and fun all the way through as many of us haven’t seen each other in-person in over a year. Clients wanted lots of photos!”
Lori said the clinics offered clients comfort in several ways. “They know us. When clients came to get their vaccine, all were welcomed, many by name. We had interpreters lined up to assist. Many clients got their vaccine from their doctor that they knew and are comfortable with. Afterwards they got to wait in a room that had treats, and they were visited and checked on. On their way out, clients would give us a thumbs up and thank us.”
In addition to the jubilant atmosphere, the clinics were extremely efficient—clients were in and out in 20 minutes including post-vaccination wait time! All of the clinics went off without a hitch due to the coordinated efforts of multiple organizations and dedicated doctors, many of whom we know—and love—from our REACH Clinic partnership. Other high-profile physicians who participated include Dr. Satchan Takaya, Pandemic Chief of Staff for Saskatchewan Health Authority, and Ryan Meili, the MLA for Saskatoon Meewasin.
Another core member of these clinics is Dr. David Campbell, a longtime Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Health Authority. He is a senior Anesthesiologist in Saskatoon and the immediate past Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology for the University of Saskatchewan and Saskatoon Health Region, a position he held for almost 17 years. Dr. Campbell has a unique role at our vaccination clinics, meticulously preparing Covid-19 vaccine doses and ensuring they are safely maintained and distributed.
Dr. Campbell was kind enough to answer a few questions about his experiences during the pandemic and with GGP’s vaccination clinics.
How has your professional life changed since the onset of Covid-19?
COVID has changed our approach around patient-focused care, with an emphasis on ensuring our healthcare providers are protected from this deadly virus before they engage in the provision of care. That is a complete reversal of our now historic approach, where we often chose to place ourselves in situations that put us at risk.
COVID also placed the safety of our families and loved ones at the fore, as we have become very concerned that our exposure to this deadly virus could be transmitted to our loved ones upon return to our homes.
In the future, if you were telling your grand-kids, say, about the pandemic and your role in mitigating its impacts, what would stand out about the experience to you?
The pandemic was a horrible event that brought our community, our city, our province, our country and the entire world together. We were all focused on keeping each other safe while the world’s scientists developed lifesaving vaccines. The pandemic broke down all social and demographic barriers and truly united our society into one with a focused goal.
My role in the vaccination process originated from the opportunity to utilize the organizational and clinical skills sets that I acquired as a Department Head as well as an Anesthesiologist. Organizing mobile vaccination teams and reconstituting and drawing up small volumes of the vaccine were clinical skills that I utilize every day as an Anesthesiologist. It was a perfect fit.
What truly drew me to do this as often as possible were experiences I had early on, bringing lifesaving vaccine to our elders and seniors who had been shut in, with little contact with their family and friends for almost a year. Time and time again, their individual faces lit up when I introduced myself as a member of the SHA mobile vaccination team. I wasn’t sure if it was excitement that they were about to be vaccinated or that someone other than their care provider was visiting with them—even with us both wearing masks.
Why did you choose to attend the vaccination clinics held at GGP?
Seeing the joy on the faces of the immigrants who are being greeted by their own physicians who are providing them with lifesaving vaccine in a comfortable, protected environment has been overwhelming. The same goes for the physicians who have been providing the lifesaving vaccine to many of the immigrants for whom they provide care. It’s such a joyous, exuberant, safe environment, with translators ensuring the immigrants are well informed and their questions answered. This last clinic was the fourth time I attended, bringing vaccine to the facility. It was truly amazing and so rewarding.