As a growing number of community volunteers descend on the MaineHealth COVID-19 clinics in Knox and Waldo counties, a common theme has emerged. Volunteers see the clinics as the largest – and most important – community events that Knox and Waldo counties have ever experienced.
And they want to be a part of it.
“It absolutely feels like a community event where everyone is pulling together for the sake of the town,” said volunteer Sandy Cox, in a MaineHealth news release. Cox is a Camden resident who volunteered after hearing about the opportunity during a meeting of West Bay Rotary.
“This is an all hands on deck situation for our community,” said Lori Van Dusen, a Camden resident who has volunteered at both clinics. “Volunteering isn’t some big, heroic thing – but it is important. We’re never going to get herd immunity if people don’t get this shot.”
Pen Bay Medical Center (PBMC) and Waldo County General Hospital (WCGH), which jointly run the MaineHealth COVID-19 clinics in Belfast and Rockland, are celebrating clinic volunteers as part of the National Volunteer Week April 18 through April 24.
Volunteers have become an increasingly important at the MaineHealth COVID-19 vaccination clinics on the former MBNA campus in Belfast and at 409 Old County Road in Rockland. As the vaccine has become more readily available, the number of people getting vaccinated has increased dramatically.
“As the clinics move forward, we will be relying on volunteers more so that hospital staff can focus on the equally important job of seeing to all of other the health care needs of our community,” said Jamie Geretz, the director of volunteer services for PBMC and WCGH.
To date, PBMC and WCGH have administered 25,936 doses of vaccine at the clinics.
“The goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible as we work toward a return to a more normal life,” said the hospitals.
To schedule your COVID-19 vaccination appointment, go to https://vaccine.mainehealth.org/ or call 1-877-780-7545. An FAQ about getting the COVID-19 vaccine can be found at vaccine.mainehealth.org/faq.
Geretz said the Knox and Waldo county communities have responded with enthusiasm to the call for volunteers. There are more than 180 volunteers working at the clinics, and Geretz receives about 10 inquires a day.
“These are incredible numbers,” Geretz said. “The community really is rallying around the vaccination effort.”
Volunteer Meredith Jones, a Belfast resident, said the pandemic has sparked in her a desire to give back to the community. She responded by donating blood for the first time in many years. Most recently she has been helping people fill out consent forms at the MaineHealth COVID clinic in Belfast.
“I think these clinics are bringing people together with a common purpose,” Jones said. “This experience of volunteering has been a reminder of our humanity and of the sense of community one has living here in Waldo County.”
Terry Moulton, from Lincolnville, learned about the opportunity to volunteer while scanning through the Lincolnville Google group.
“I’ve been retired for two years, and had the time,” she said. “I figured this was one way I could help out.
“It definitely has that feel of a community event,” she said. “I’ve been seeing a lot of people that I know personally, and I’ve recognized faces of people I don't know necessarily. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this many people in a place at one time.”
Tom Marshall, who worked at the Rockland ferry terminal before the pandemic, said he volunteers because of the gratitude he feels toward MaineHealth.
“I had a carotid blockage right in the middle of the pandemic, and they took good care of me. This is my way of saying thanks,” he said. “I also wanted to help with things like paper work so I could free up the medical professionals to give more shots.”
Asked what he would say to someone thinking about volunteering, Marshall said: “What an experience to have. Why would anyone just want to sit at home and watch TV when you could be doing something to help their community?”
If you are interested in volunteering at the MaineHealth COVID vaccination clinics in Rockland or Belfast, please email PBMC and WCGH volunteer services, at CHAVaccineClinicStaffing@mainehealth.org.
About Pen Bay Medical Center
Pen Bay Medical Center is part of MaineHealth, a not-for-profit integrated health system consisting of eight local hospital systems, a comprehensive behavioral healthcare network, diagnostic services, home health agencies, and more than 1,600 employed and independent physicians working together through an Accountable Care Organization. With more than 19,000 employees, MaineHealth is the largest health system in northern New England and provides preventive care, diagnosis and treatment to 1.1 million residents in Maine and New Hampshire. For more information, please visit pbmc.org.
Waldo County General Hospital
Waldo County General Hospital is part of MaineHealth, a not-for-profit integrated health system consisting of eight local hospital systems, a comprehensive behavioral healthcare network, diagnostic services, home health agencies, and more than 1,600 employed and independent physicians working together through an Accountable Care Organization. With more than 19,000 employees, MaineHealth is the largest health system in northern New England and provides preventive care, diagnosis and treatment to 1.1 million residents in Maine and New Hampshire. For more information, please visit wcgh.org.