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    The Pembroke Memorial Centre Vaccination Clinic Team Celebration was held on Aug. 31. About 350 volunteers, health workers, municipal staff and volunteers were needed to run the clinic and distribute the over 43,000 vaccines. Many of them attended the event, reconnecting with the people they’ve spent the last six months working with. Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post

    Five women wearing masks and holding flowers
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    The mass clinics were an important part of protecting members of the community from COVID-19. Members of the workforce that made the biggest impact were thanked by name at the celebration. From left are Debbie Wegner, Vicki Bradfield,  Senior Vice-President, Pembroke Regional Hospital Clinical and Support Services - Partnerships and Integration Sabine Mersmann, Sarah Selle and Holly Woermke. Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post

    Large crowd of people wearing masks in centre of skating arena



PMC mass vaccine clinic closed, over 43,000 doses administered

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday September 9, 2021

The Pembroke Memorial Centre (PMC) COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic has closed its doors, having reached its goal by providing over 43,000 doses to people in the Ottawa Valley.

Vaccines are still available to the public through pharmacies and family doctors, but the mass vaccine clinics in Renfrew County are done.

The PMC clinic was a pivotal part of the goal to flatten the pandemic curve. It required about 350 healthcare workers, municipal staff and volunteers to make it happen, with many working behind the scenes. Several volunteers were former healthcare workers who left retirement to ensure the process went smoothly during the 60 or so mass clinics held inside the arena.

The last one occurred on Aug. 19.

“For me, I felt so proud from the moment I walked into the clinic area,” said Sabine Mersmann, Senior Vice-President, PRH Clinical and Support Services - Partnerships and Integration. “Everyone was able to step into any position to cover when needed.”

From the outside, the PMC clinic looked like a well-oiled machine. People booked their appointment, were screened for symptoms, waited in line, received their shot and waited about 20 minutes before leaving. But successfully establishing a large clinic was no easy task, and it required the support of many. Yet acquiring the workforce wasn’t difficult once a location and the chain of supply was secured.

“There were so many requests to help out,” said Pierre Noel, President and CEO of the Pembroke Regional Hospital (PRH). “It’s just incredible.”

Before the arena was repurposed, about 1,600 vaccines were administered at the hospital. All clinic workers were part of a historical movement that has changed the landscape of the community, helping protect people from the full brunt of the pandemic.

Despite rigorous regulations and strict procedures, and the overall worry and fear felt by many, the team managed to keep the atmosphere light and the work fun.

“One person said it was the happiest place in Pembroke,” said Noel. “And one person said it was the social event of the year.”

To honour those who made the clinic possible, a celebration was held at the PMC on Aug. 31. There, they were treated to a meal, live music, speeches and humorous awards. It was also a chance for the volunteers to reconnect with each other and to be reminded of the impact they’ve made over the past six months.

“The heroes fighting the pandemic are represented here,” said City of Pembroke Mayor Mike Lemay, offering his gratitude to the PRH, the front-line workers and all those that made the clinic possible.

Not everyone could make it to the clinic in Pembroke for their vaccine, but the partnerships with pharmacies, paramedics, doctor’s offices and other clinics allowed individuals to receive their vaccinations, said Mersmann.

As of Aug. 30, 143,972 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered through COVID-19 vaccination clinics and sites across Renfrew County and District (RCD), with 83.1 per cent of Renfrew County District Health Unit (RCDHU) adults having received at least one dose, and 77.3 per cent have received two doses.

Acting Medical Officer of Health for the RCDHU Doctor Robert Cushman couldn’t make it to the event but gave a statement which was read by Andrew Keck, RCDHU Healthy Community Manager.

“Your efficiency, your smile, your attention to detail and added care for those in need has made an enormous difference,” Dr. Cushman’s statement read, in part.

Due to these vaccination efforts, the number of cases in Renfrew County has dropped to almost zero. They have saved lives and have ensured that the area is well prepared for the eventuality of a fourth wave, said Dr. Cushman.