Skidmore Health Services staff assist with county vaccine rollout
In addition to being at the forefront of Skidmore’s COVID-19 pandemic response, members of the College’s Health Services staff have been helping to administer coronavirus vaccines to front-line health care workers, educators and other eligible vaccine candidates in the local community.
Answering the call from Saratoga County Public Health Services on New Year’s Eve when the first vaccine shipments arrived in the region, Patty Bosen, a family nurse practitioner and director of Skidmore Health Services, asked her fellow Skidmore nurses and nurse practitioners to join her in providing volunteer assistance.
“This is such a big public health initiative and effort and we wanted to support Saratoga County Public Health Services in any way we could. This is what nurses do,” said Bosen. “All of my staff who were available said, ‘Absolutely, we need to do this.’”
Skidmore College’s strong, longstanding relationship with Saratoga County Public Health Services (SCPHS) has been integral to both organizations’ efforts to protect the campus and surrounding communities throughout the pandemic. The College has worked closely with SCPHS — and in accordance with the latest New York state and Centers for Disease Control guidance — in developing and implementing comprehensive health and safety measures on campus.
As they continue to fulfill their mission of providing accessible, high-quality care to the entire student population, the Skidmore Health Services team has been vital to organizing COVID-19 surveillance testing, quarantine and isolation, and contact tracing efforts on campus.
Skidmore Health Services’ ties to community health institutions have been boosting emergency preparedness in the region for years. As members of the Saratoga County Medical Reserve Corps — a group of local public health, medical and other volunteers who can offer assistance in the event of a crisis — Bosen and Michelle Lapo, a registered nurse with the College, have helped at several point-of-dispensing (POD) site drills for vaccines or antibiotics in the past.
Skidmore Health Services Director Patty Bosen boxes up donations of PPE that Skidmore donated to Saratoga Hospital in March 2020, early on in the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of six members of the Health Services team now serve in the county Medical Reserve Corps, after responding to the recent call for volunteers and administering COVID-19 vaccines at the Saratoga County Public Health site in Ballston Spa in early January.
Beyond giving back to the community, the College’s health care staff embraced the opportunity as an important training exercise for the months to come.
“They were all very happy that they could see a real POD in action,” Bosen said of her colleagues. “We’ve helped with public health drills and we had a drill here about two years ago of our own, but I think any exposure you can get is really good practice.”
While the line was out the door for the first vaccination clinic she attended, the process went smoothly, Bosen said, with an average wait time of about 15 minutes. Vaccine candidates had to show proof of identity and eligibility, and answer screening questions before receiving the immunization. They were observed by EMTs for an additional 15 minutes afterward, to monitor for any potential reactions.
“People were very patient, and most people were very happy to get the vaccine,” Bosen said. “Saratoga County Public Health is so well organized. Because they drilled this so much, they know it really well. It was a pleasure to work them.”
The Skidmore campus has been designated a closed point-of-dispensing site for administering vaccines to students, faculty and staff in the past — during the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 — and could serve the same purpose for COVID-19 vaccinations, pending further planning and discussion with New York state and Saratoga County Public Health Services, Bosen said. Another Saratoga County vaccination site has been established in downtown Saratoga Springs.
For now, Health Services is continuing its steadfast efforts to keep Skidmore's students, staff and faculty safe while the vaccines are gradually rolled out to more of the population.
“The Health Services staff on campus are our very own health care heroes,” said Skidmore College President Marc Conner. “Right from the start they have led the way in helping to keep our campus safe during the pandemic. Their perseverance and commitment to the health and well-being of others each and every day is inspiring. We are fortunate to have their expertise and deeply grateful for the compassion they show others — at Skidmore and in our community.”