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COVID-19 vaccine brings relief for Missoula hospital workers

Posted at 1:33 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 10:52:04-05

MISSOULA — You can imagine the pressure our frontline healthcare workers have felt in recent months.

But now, with the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine, hospital staff have newfound energy heading into work every day.

“We're dealing with COVID patients every single day that I'm at work, basically since early October, September,” noted Community Medical Center (CMC) ICU Registered Nurse Jack Lowney.

“We have a COVID unit, a COVID wing on both floors, and so yes every day,” noted Community Medical Center Chief Hospitalist Eric Larsen, DO.

“We can have, you know somewhere between five or 15 or 20 COVID patients at a time in our service, and it's all different levels of acuity. Some people go home quickly and some people stay a long time,” Larsen added.

Lowney and Larsen say they've gotten used to caring for COVID patients at this point, but they'll also tell you that doesn't diminish the anxiety of constantly walking into a situation where you could potentially become exposed.

“I'm immunocompromised. I have Crohn's Disease, and so I'm on...immunosuppression, and that puts a little bit of more anxiety in this situation,” Larsen said.

“I have a, you know, young family and you know wife at home and that was my biggest concern what I would put them at risk for and bring home to them. Stressful, yes, but that's just a part of the job sometimes,” Lowney said.

“We do what we do so I have been jumping in and gowning up and getting in there every single day,” Larsen added.

Luckily for Lowney and Larsen and other frontline workers, CMC received its first shipment of vaccines earlier this month. For many, it was a sigh of relief that they had waited months for.

“When I first got the news and the email that I could sign up and go get my dose, it's just this incredible sense of relief. Not only has a weight been lifted but what better way to prove they're supportive of a vaccine than to get it themselves,” Larsen told MTN News.

“The best way to do anything is to lead by example and I'm a huge advocate for vaccines and seeing what this virus has done to our community and to our patient population and our hospital systems, it was the biggest step in the right direction,” Lowney added.

With a vaccine circulating through Missoula’s hospitals, an end to the pandemic is finally in sight. Now, it'll be up to the general public to do their part.

“When it comes down to it, there is no good reason not to get this vaccine,” Larsen said. “It protects you, protects your family, protects your loved ones, even if you're somebody who is not a high-risk person for COVID, I guarantee you that you love somebody who is.

Although the vaccine has arrived in Missoula, CMC notes we’re still in the thick of the pandemic, and they are advising people to continue wearing a mask, washing hands, and practicing social distancing.

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