HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – The first COVID-19 vaccine administered by a South Carolina National Guard member was given at the Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital on Thursday.
Gov. McMaster tweeted the men and women of the state National Guard have been delivering PPE and supporting vaccination efforts for more than 300 days. “We owe them a debt of gratitude,” McMaster said.
After a brief orientation in the vaccine clinic at the Murrells Inlet hospital, the National Guard personnel – two medics and a physician assistant – jumped right in working alongside Tidelands Health team members administering the vaccine, including first doses to community-based Phase 1a workers and second doses to Tidelands Health team members.
“Having them here just speeds up the process,” Kathy Dowling, director of employee health at Tidelands Health, said while she prepared to administer a second dose to a team member.
The National Guard has provided crucial support to Tidelands Health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, Guard personnel joined team members at the health system’s large-scale community testing events to administer the tests and direct vehicles through the process. National Guard medics also offered significant support in the health system’s emergency departments this summer as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surged.
“It’s great helping the community – that’s why we join the Guard,” Sgt. Alongkorn Khamkam said as he reached for the next dose of vaccine to administer Thursday.
In addition to vaccinating its own team members, Tidelands Health has been administering vaccinations to community-based Phase 1a workers such as home health and hospice workers, public health nurses, dentists, funeral home workers and others. The health system has administered the vaccine to more than 1,400 people – and the list of eligible Phase 1a workers in the community requesting the vaccine grows daily.
Employers in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties with employees in Phase 1a can complete an employer enrollment form at tidelandshealth.org to request vaccinations for their eligible Phase 1a employees.
Even as Tidelands Health continues vaccinating those in Phase 1a, it already has been planning for Phase 1b vaccination. The health system will move through the vaccination phases as the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control directs.
“We are so grateful for our partnership with the National Guard, which graciously reached out and offered to help as we continue to vaccinate those in Phase 1a,” said Ashley Capps, vice president of nursing and operations at Tidelands Health. “Our team has done a remarkable job administering the vaccine, and the additional skilled hands of the National Guard are helping us safely get this vaccine in arms as quickly as possible.”
Tidelands Health also announced on Thursday they will hire temporary staffing positions and seek community help to carry out the vaccinations. The health system is asking individuals with previous health care experience to apply for a range of temporary positions, including vaccine administrator and clinic monitor. Individuals with data entry and customer service experience can apply to serve as a clinic registrar. Those who are hired for the temporary positions will be fully trained and will receive the COVID-19 vaccine before beginning work.
A #SCGuard health care NCO gives a #COVID19 vaccine to a citizen at the Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital, Jan. 7, 2021, in support of the state’s vaccination efforts. This was the first COVID-19 vaccine administered by a SC #NationalGuard member to a member of the community. pic.twitter.com/DkY4MOraEk— SC National Guard (@SCNationalGuard) January 7, 2021