Maine Seacoast Mission brings vaccine to islanders
Friday, April 9th 2021
The race to vaccine as many people as possible against COVID-19 has been complicated, especially in terms of reaching folks in remote locations, such as the inhabited islands along the Maine coast. Getting to and from mainland vaccination sites can be difficult for island residents dependent on ferry schedules and the weather.
That’s where the Maine Seacoast Mission comes in.
The Mission’s medical team has been travelling to seven Maine islands on board the organization’s outreach vessel, Sunbeam, and operating vaccination clinics. Mission Island Outreach Director Douglas Cornman notifies island populations of upcoming vaccination clinics, registering island residents who want vaccinations. He also provides the Maine Immunization Information System (ImmPact) with current, accurate island clinic immunization records.
Mission Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, RN is the team’s lead nurse. She stays in almost constant touch with the Maine Center for Disease Control, local hospital pharmacies, island and mainland medical workers. Daley ensures the safety of vaccines, that there are safe places on islands to have clinics, that all the necessary clinic supplies are in place, and that there are enough medical workers available.
Everyone involved looks for the fair weather that allows the medical team to travel to the island by water or air.
The preferred means of clinic travel is aboard the Mission’s 74-foot boat Sunbeam, which has state of the art navigation gear and a telemedicine room with a medical grade refrigerator tailor made for preserving vaccinations. Those days the wind is steady and forceful enough to prevent the Sunbeam from docking, the medical team travels by small boats able to avoid the wind, or by small airplanes.
The team makeup varies clinic to clinic, but its members include Mission staff and non-Mission medical pros. The Mission team members are Director Sharon Daley, RN ; Director Douglas Cornman; President John Zavodny, and the Sunbeam crew: Captain Mike Johnson, Engineer Storey King, and Steward Jillian.
Nurses Maureen Giffin, Peggy Akers, island EMTs, and other helpers complete the medical team lineup.
Earlier in this effort, Mission President Zavodny told a reporter the clinics will continue until all of the island residents the mission serves who want to be vaccinated are vaccinated. “Now that we’re closing in on the end of the formal clinics,” said Zavodny, “Sharon will be working to secure smaller caches of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We won’t keep doing clinics per se.”
Top Photo: Mission Medical Director Sharon Daley, RN, on the way to a clinic
Bottom Photo: An island vaccination clinic gets underway
Both Photos Courtesy Maine Seacoast Mission