South Carolina National Guard arrives at Tidelands Health to help in administering the COVID-19 vaccine
The South Carolina National Guard, which provided crucial support this summer as Tidelands Health responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, returned to the health system Thursday to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital was the first in the state to welcome the National Guard to help with administering the COVID-19 vaccine to the growing list of eligible Phase 1a workers in our community requesting vaccination.
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,” 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.”