Hospital staff rolling up their sleeves against H1N1

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The first of hundreds of medical care workers at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital took steps to decrease their chances of getting H1N1 virus. The vaccination protects health care providers and also benefits the public.

"There's going to be a stick. The medicine is going in," Jessica Rodgers, infection control and hospital protection nurse warned before a vaccination. She also stayed busy sending H1N1 mist up her co-worker's nose.

The goal is to keep the staff from getting sick with H1N1.  "If we can hit our health care workers first and keep them at work and healthy, they can take care of the ones who are sick," Rodgers explained.  Imagine an emergency room with no caretakers and it's easy to understand why health care workers are at the front of the line.

"Yesterday afternoon we received a shipment of almost 500 doses to add to the 100 we already had," Rodgers said. The ER and ICU staff are offered the vaccine first. Next in line are labor and delivery nurses. "So we can protect our pregnant mamas," was Alisha Stewart's reasoning for getting the shot.

Not all health providers are good patients. Nurses and doctors provide some of the same excuses as everyone else for not taking the vaccine. That's when the infection control nurse becomes a myth buster. "They're scared of it. Or, I've never had the flu. Or, it will give me the flu. And those are all myths, of course," Rodgers preaches.

The Centers for Disease Control is handing out certificates to hospitals meeting the challenge. Memorial's vaccination goal is 60%. Those receiving the vaccine are called "champions".

"I just had pneumonia and I don't want to be sick anymore," was Betty Johnson's reason for a vaccination.

"We carry a lot of things home with us also and I didn't want to take anything like that home. I just figured it would keep me and everybody around me safe," Jessie Cruz, an ER nurse said.

Rodgers is still seeking out more champions. It's her way of minimizing the spread of H1N1 in the community.

Nacogdoches Medical Center is still waiting for its large shipment of H1N1. The vaccine can be found at a few physician's offices, but some doctors didn't order it because of the paper work it involved. It's available at some health departments, but still no word of its arrival at the Nacogdoches clinic. The East Texas Community Health Center had just enough vaccine delivered for its staff. We'll let you know when enough arrives for the general public.

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