Employees at the San Bernardino Community College District and Yucaipa Unified School District received some welcome news on Friday, Feb. 26. If they responded quickly, they could make an appointment to get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on the campus of Yucaipa’s Crafton Hills College (CHC).
It was short notice, but given how scarce vaccine appointments have been during the COVID-19 pandemic, these employees did not seem to mind.
“I was impressed with how well organized the pop-up vaccine clinic was,” said Delmy Spencer, CHC’s vice president of student services, after receiving her shot Friday. “Everyone was friendly and welcoming.”
She said it made her happy to see students, faculty, staff, administration and community members working to put the clinic together.
CHC President Kevin Horan said that he cannot take credit for the windfall of 100 doses.
“Dr. Phong Nguyen is the real hero here,” Horan said. “His medical practice received the doses and he offered them to us. He also happens to be the medical director for our paramedic program.”
Dr. Nguyen works closely with paramedics in the area as medical director for Redlands Community Hospital’s emergency department. He also teaches at the University of California Riverside School of Medicine. As chair of the fundraising committee of the CHC Foundation, Dr. Nguyen has helped raise more than $600,000 to support the College’s programs. But the vaccines are an entirely different kind of gift, said Michelle Riggs, director of institutional advancement for CHC.
“(Dr. Ngugyen) wants our students to be able to return to campus,” she said. “He wants our faculty and staff to be safe. He is always trying to figure out ways to make our community as a whole a better place, and he knows how hard it has been to train students in hands-on skills in a remote environment.”
With very little notice, student paramedics Jessica Sayegh, Andrew Martinez and Jared Gvesrude started putting vaccines into arms, following protocols from San Bernardino County that offers priority to people working in education. The students worked quickly, showing off their steady hands and steady voices, necessary for first responders. That is the kind of training drilled into them at Crafton’s nationally accredited paramedic training program. In 2018, the CHC EMT and Paramedic programs were named by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office as “gold star” programs based on their outcomes in employment and earnings.
Each person who received their first shot also received an appointment card for the second dose, which will be administered in late March.
“This is exactly the kind of quick response that we have trained for,” said Amanda Ward, director of the CHC paramedic program. She and Kristen Clements, paramedic program instructor, supervised the students during the clinic.
Cali Binks, the superintendent of the Yucaipa Calimesa-Joint Unified School District, said she partners with San Bernardino Community College District regularly. But when the College district offered to share this clinic, it took the partnership to the next level.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, our partnership has been strengthened by working together,” she said. “The vaccine clinic today is just another way the education community supports one another.”
Riggs said she was proud of how faculty members and paramedic students stepped up without hesitation to volunteer to help administer vaccines.
“They are not getting paid for this,” she said. “They just believe in helping others, and this is a great example of the caliber of people we have here at Crafton Hills College.”