Workers, volunteers honored as DeVos vaccine clinic nears last dose

COVID-19 Vaccine

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It took more than the skill to administer a shot in the arm to make the mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at DeVos Place work. 

Nancy Miller was one of the thousands of volunteers who answered the call. 

“I worked as a greeter at the River entrance, and I also worked in the observation area with another team of people, assisting people after they got their vaccination,” Miller said.

Over 1,250 volunteers gave 25,000 hours of their time.

None of the work was easy, but Miller and many others made it their personal mission.

“At the end of the day, my feet hurt, I was tired. But I was glad to have done it,” Miller said. “This is history. We have to do this.”

On Thursday night, the day before the clinic was set to administer its last shots, Miller and thousands of health care workers and volunteers were honored at DeVos Place, during an invitation-only open house.

No needles, just thank yous.

“What we gave people here is an opportunity to see hope,” said Mark VanDyke, Spectrum Health’s business assurance manager and the person who put the clinic together and made everything work.

By the time the clinic closes up shop Friday, some 230,000 vaccinations will have been administered.

March 29 set a one-day record.

“We administered just over 12,500 vaccines, which was a high watermark for the entire country,” VanDyke said. “There are many other vaccine clinics that did that in the course of two days or a weekend. But we believe that to be a record.”

The mass vaccination clinic was a collaboration between Spectrum Health, Mercy Health and the Kent County Health Department.

Coming together at DeVos Place made the process a lot more efficient. 

“A clinic of 500 at a Spectrum Health site, 500 at a St. Mary’s site, a like clinic for Kent County Health Department, really strains on the resources of all of our organizations,” VanDyke said.

Not only was the vaccination clinic a success, it also provided some important lessons for the future.

The same can be said for the entire pandemic experience.

“About how to talk to each other, about how to share information, about how to make decisions internally. How to make more space within our hospitals and how to use our staff differently to care for our patients,” VanDyke said, “is going to help us for a very long time.”

While the clinic closes tomorrow, there’s other locations where you can get the vaccine: Vaccinate West Michigan has the location nearest you.

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