GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A metro Kalamazoo native is doing her part to end the COVID-19 pandemic thousands of miles from home.

Parchment High School graduate 1st Lt. Megan Maxey is a U.S. Army nurse working at the Cal State LA community vaccine center in Los Angeles. The site has the capacity to see 6,000 patients per day and is the first in the nation to lean on active-duty soldiers to administer doses.

“This area in Los Angeles, they’ve been hit really hard by COVID,” Maxey told News 8 over Zoom Friday. “Most of these patients coming through, they’re ecstatic to be getting the vaccine. They’re like, ‘This is our light at the end of the tunnel for this.’ So it’s really amazing to see that.”

Maxey said she’s always had a passion for helping people. 

“I decided to enlist into the Army right after high school and then I enlisted into the Reserves and then did (the Reserve Officer Training Corps) at Western Michigan University,” she explained. 

The vaccine center where she works in LA is administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Maxey said the connection to Portage, near her hometown and where the shots are being manufactured, makes her even more proud to be serving.

“From our little, small town, it’s come all the way out here to Los Angeles, California, and just all over the rest of the United States, the world even. I think it’s neat to have that connection to be from there,” Maxey added.

The Cal State LA center is one of two in the state acting as part of a pilot program launched by the Biden administration earlier this month. The goal is to see 100 community vaccination sites on that scale across the country by the end of April. 

“We’re here to serve the mission until it’s complete, until (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and (the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services) are satisfied with what we’re doing here,” Maxey said.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Megan Maxey and her team at the Cal State LA community vaccine center in Los Angeles. (Capt. Daniel Parker/U.S. Army)

Asked if a similar site utilizing the help of the Army may open in Michigan, a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said the state is already partnering with the Michigan National Guard for help at vaccination centers, saying the Guard has “provided valuable support throughout the pandemic.”

“In Michigan, we are partnering with the Michigan National Guard to provide support to local health departments and health care systems as we seek to vaccinate 70% of Michiganders age 16 and older as quickly as possible with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. The National Guard has provided valuable support throughout the pandemic, helping at food banks across the state, COVID-19 testing sites and now with vaccinations. To date, Michigan has administered more than two million vaccines, and we continue to work with our federal partners to expand our vaccine program to ensure every Michigander can get a vaccine as they become available.”