There’s finally light at the end of the very long, dark tunnel, and Mennonite College of Nursing students at Illinois State University are helping to provide the means to get there.
Students have volunteered their time outside of clinic to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine to McLean County residents. Accelerated BSN students Christina Lewis and Perla Martinez recently spent a five-hour shift at the Activity and Recreation Center (ARC) in Normal delivering the Pfizer vaccine to people. They were proud to be apart of the immunization process that could finally lift the pandemic’s firm grip on the world.
“It feels very hopeful, in what has been a string of hopelessness, with a lot of people,” Lewis said.
More information on area vaccine clinics can be found on the McLean County Health Department’s website.
Lewis and Martinez didn’t anticipate having this type of role in the road to recovery when the world went into quarantine a full year ago. They hadn’t yet started their 15-month program, and like most everyone else, they didn’t foresee just how long the severity of the pandemic would last.
As it progressed, they supported their colleagues in the field but felt like their own hands were tied because they didn’t quite have the requisite experience yet. Even though they aren’t bedside with vulnerable patients in the hospital, Lewis and Martinez feel rewarded by providing a service that will have positive repercussions.
“Having this opportunity present itself where we can be a part of it and put our little grain of sand in the pile and provide some sort of preventive care to a lot of the older, more vulnerable people in the community is probably one of the highlights of the entire program so far for me,” Martinez said.
In addition to helping the community, Lewis and Martinez got an educational experience, working closely with the registered nurses who prepped the samples. While this experience is new to everyone, both Lewis and Martinez were appreciative of how receptive patients were to them.
“I expected people to look at us as students and be questionable, but everyone for me was overwhelmingly grateful,” Lewis said.
Lewis and Martinez were motivated to get into nursing because of the difference they could make, especially in communities where there isn’t as much access to care. With the most vulnerable being eligible for vaccines right now, Lewis and Martinez have seen the gratitude of people who maybe didn’t have as much hope as others and are grateful to play a part in their journeys back.
“For a long time, they were cooped up in their homes and thought they were going to face maybe even death,” Martinez said. “Now, they’re being given the chance to at least start getting out again. They seemed to be relieved to be turning a new leaf.”