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For the latest COVID-19 information, visit vcuhealth.org/covid-19 or Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU for pediatrics. For vaccine details, visit vcuhealth.org/covidvaccine.

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Volunteers Help Public Sign Up for COVID Vaccines

Volunteers Will Woodall, Tom Watters, Dot Saunders and Kenny Pitts answer calls to book COVID vaccine appointments at VCU Health CMH.

Volunteers Will Woodall, Tom Watters, Dot Saunders and Kenny Pitts answer calls to book COVID vaccine appointments at VCU Health CMH.


 

On a Monday in March, four VCU Health CMH volunteers answered phone lines to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments for the public. The vaccination clinic hotline gets about 200 calls a day.

Most of the Hospital Auxiliary has been restricted from volunteering during the pandemic, except for a few who came back in September to help with elective procedures and the gift shop. These volunteers went through a reorientation and received vaccines once they were eligible and available. Now some of them are helping with the vaccination clinics, from making appointments to helping with check-in on the day of the clinic.

Volunteer Will Woodall has volunteered at VCU Health CMH for four years in the gift shop. He retired from the Department of Corrections in Food Service and lives in La Crosse. He said it feels wonderful to be able to help the public get their vaccines.

“I am happy to help speed up the process so we can more quickly get back to our families. Christmas just wasn’t the same without being able to see and hug them,” Will said. He wants the public to get their vaccines so everyone can enjoy the freedoms they had before. “Do it for your family and your neighbors,” he added.

Dot Saunders of Dundas retired from IBM in Connecticut and moved to the area after her husband saw it advertised in a brochure. She’s served as a volunteer in the gift shop for three years. Helping people sign up for vaccines means a lot to her.

“COVID has affected all of us. We have to do what we can to resolve it by following the CDC guidelines,” she said. A lot of people who call in are lonely and just want to talk. “It’s nice to be helpful and give them the answers they’re looking for,” Dot added. “I can share my own experience of being vaccinated and refer them to a help line or their physician if they have questions I can’t answer.”

Tom Watters is a retired CMH Nurse Anesthetist who has volunteered in Surgical Services for four years. He lives in South Hill. He is proud of the fact he can help get the vaccine out quicker to the public. “If more people get the vaccine now, we’ll have less problems later,” he reasoned. “We need to decrease the cases and eliminate this virus to save lives.”

Kenny Pitts has held the position of President of the CMH Auxiliary for two years but has volunteered at the hospital welcome desk for seven. He also serves as the Auxiliary representative on the Hospital board of directors. Prior to becoming a hospital volunteer, he was the Postmaster for South Hill and currently resides in South Hill.

“People are scared,” he said. “This is an emergent need, and we are making someone’s day when we are finally able to book them an appointment. You can hear the relief in their voice.”

As someone familiar with working with the public, he said, “I hope people realize how hard hospital employees and volunteers work to put the community first. They put themselves at risk and I am thankful for their service.”

Other hospital volunteers helping with the CMH Vaccination Call Center and Clinics are Lois White, Charlene Gray, Dottie Collins, Lily Atkinson, Virginia Lucy, Otis Thomas, Jane Stringer and Nancy Bradshaw. Community volunteers are Lee Smith, RN, Vickie Gordon and Gay Clary.

Contact the CMH Vaccination Call Center by phone at (434) 447-5541 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday to make an appointment to be vaccinated if you are in phase 1a, 1b or 1c. The phone number does not accept messages. Please note the call center is only operational when vaccines and appointments are available for the public. NO WALK-INS ARE PERMITTED AT THE CLINIC.

As a reminder, phase 1a, 1b and 1c include:

  • Anyone over the age of 65, regardless of health conditions.
  • If you are between the ages 16 and 64 and experience one or more CDC-listed chronic conditions that are associated with poor outcomes from COVID-19
  • If you live in a community with a higher risk of COVID exposure based on community prevalence of COVID-19.
  • Other Essential Worker groups: Energy, Water, Wastewater, and Waste Removal Workers (includes Recycling Removal Workers), Housing and Construction, Food Service, Transportation and Logistics, Institutions of Higher Education Faculty/Staff, Finance, Information Technology & Communication, Media, Legal Services, Public Safety (engineers) and Other Public Health Workers.

 

Tom Watters checks temperatures at the VCU Health CMH vaccine clinic.

Tom Watters checks temperatures at the VCU Health CMH vaccine clinic.