Retired HHS nurses answer the call for vaccine clinic support
Anne-Marie Bradley retired from nursing almost two years ago, after a 35-year career at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). Last spring, she came out of retirement to work at COVID-19 vaccine clinics run by HHS. Most recently, she has been giving shots to eligible staff, physicians and resident physicians at mobile drop-in clinics rotating through HHS hospital sites. The clinics started in mid-January and are scheduled into February with the goal of making it easier for health-care workers to get their shots.
“I retired on February 29, 2020 — just before the pandemic hit,” says Bradley, who spent most of her career as an ICU nurse at HHS Hamilton General Hospital (HGH). “I felt awful not being there, especially after working in nursing for so many years.”
Bringing vaccines to the workplace
Bradley is one of eight nurses who came out of retirement last year to staff HHS vaccine clinics. Those joining her include Pam Stevens, a retired clinical research nurse, and Marg MacNaughton, who worked with heart arrhythmia patients at HGH before retiring. All three are currently working at the rotating mobile drop-in clinics.
“It’s a super job and the HHS staff we’ve been seeing are really happy to get vaccinated,” says Bradley.
Bradley, Stevens and MacNaughton started giving COVID shots last spring at HHS’ Wellington Street Clinic. Later that year, they joined vaccination efforts at the West End Clinic.
“I love nursing and I really just wanted to help out.”
The Wellington Street Clinic offered vaccines to health-care workers and members of the community who were at high risk, including people living in long-term care. It was the first vaccination hub in the city and one of the very first clinics in Ontario to begin immunizing health-care workers against COVID. It closed last August when the City of Hamilton consolidated clinic locations. The West End Clinic provided vaccines to health-care workers and their family members. It stopped its vaccination program in January due to dwindling demand.
Recruiting retired nurses
“It was my privilege to bring these experienced nurses back from retirement to aid in the vaccine initiative,” says clinical manager Carrie-Lynn Meyer, who recruited the retired nurses for the Wellington Street and West End Clinics.
“Our goal is to make getting the vaccine as easy and convenient as possible…”
“Hamilton Health Sciences recognizes the importance of having fully vaccinated staff, physicians and residents working in our hospitals,” says Meyer.
The eight retired nurses were then recruited for the rotating drop-in clinics by clinical manager Allison Petrella. “Our goal is to make getting the vaccine as easy and convenient as possible by bringing clinics directly to the workplace,” says Petrella. “By staff and physicians being fully vaccinated with all three shots, we’re helping to keep our patients safe, and each other safe.”
MacNaughton has noticed that the HHS rotating clinics have become less busy since she started working at them.
“That could be a good sign, since it may mean more people are getting fully vaccinated,” she says. “The sooner we get people vaccinated, the sooner we get through this.”
Grateful for workplace shots
Most of the health-care workers visiting the on-site clinics are getting their third shot. “They tell us that they really appreciate the convenience of getting this done at their workplace,” says Stevens, who enjoys being back in a health-care environment.
When Stevens applied last year to give vaccines she thought at the time that it might be truly voluntary, rather than the paid role that it is. “I love nursing and I really just wanted to help out.”