By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – “Our student nurses are trained and ready to go,” explained Ellen Santos, Director of Practical Nursing at Assabet Valley Regional Technical School. Santos reached out in several directions to offer help with vaccine distribution, and the Marlborough Board of Health was the first to accept her suggestion. The adult Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) students have assisted with vaccinating the city’s residents at both Academy Knoll and Bolton Street, and most recently volunteered at a clinic for residents 75 and older at the Marlborough Senior Center.
Excellent resource for the commonwealth
“There is too much misinformation out there, unfortunately. Student nurses CAN vaccinate, educate, and monitor patients afterwards. Our students are willing and able to serve the community and are grateful for the opportunity to do so,” Santos said.
She believes that the 15 adult nursing programs housed in technical schools across the state are the commonwealth’s best resources for volunteers in administering the vaccine safely and effectively.
“Our students have taken a certificate course through the CDC and have practiced on our lifelike mannequins. As long as a licensed professional is in the room with them, they are qualified to go! This creates a win-win, as they also earn credit toward their 540 hours of clinical instruction, as approved by both the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing Inc. (ACEN) and the National League for Nursing (NLN).”
Being a part of history
Aminah Nakitende has participated in all three vaccination events so far and admits to being a bit nervous the first time.
“I wasn’t worried about my health, we have all the correct protective equipment, but wondered how people would react. The people have been welcoming and appreciative and I look forward to the next session,” she commented.
A classmate, Francia Manneh, agreed, adding that she found her volunteer work helpful in dealing with her own family.
“Our families–they trust us, so when they see that we are doing this, they will get their shots, too, when it is their turn. I like being a part of history!”
Very accessible venue
Trish Pope, the Executive Director of Marlborough’s Council on Aging, watched as the clinic was being set up at the Senior Center.
“We are expecting 180 appointments to be done today. We have been helping our seniors sign up. It’s delightful to be able to help people. It’s been a long eleven months!” she said.
Pope stressed that the parking lot gives easy access, and the room can stay set up as a clinic for weeks if needed. The Council on Aging provides $5 lunches for 100 seniors every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but in order to have the clinic space, the curbside pick-up location has moved to Kennedy’s Market for the time being. Details are on the city website.
Being part of the solution
Santos is proud of the responses from her students, with 10 even volunteering to help during school vacation.
“This is a testament to their professionalism and their commitment to their careers. It’s important to be part of the solution,” she added.
Assabet’s Licensed Practical Nursing Program
After 10 months, the LPN graduates receive a Certificate of Proficiency in Practical Nursing and are prepared to take the Licensed Practical Nurse exam. See more at www.assabetvalley/pn.org.
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