Clinic volunteers show community spirit

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Volunteers have played a big part in the the Yadkin County COVID vaccine clinics. From left: COVID vaccine volunteer coordinator Marlana Riley; volunteer and Yadkinville Mayor Pro Tem Monta Davis-Oliver; County Human Services Assistant Director Jessica Wall; and volunteer nurse Robin Gardner.

On Saturdays, it’s a safe bet to find Yadkinville resident Robin Gardner at the YMCA body combat workout class. Gardner, who has been a registered nurse for 22 years, was chatting with the county vaccine clinic volunteer coordinator Marlana Riley after a Y class one day.

Gardner mentioned that she would like to find a way to help her community during the pandemic.

“I love to give shots,” Gardner chuckled. “And Marlana said, ‘Oh my gosh, I schedule those clinics.’”

Every employee at the Yadkin County Human Services Department is doing their usual duties these days, plus taking on a role with the vaccine clinics, said County Manager Lisa Hughes.

Riley, whose “real job” is county Adult Services Supervisor, also now serves as vaccine clinic volunteer coordinator. Her volunteer recruit, Gardner, said it’s been her first experience volunteering.

“I haven’t done a lot of volunteering in my past because I’m always working and I have three kids,” said Gardner, a graduate of the Surry Community College nursing program.

Gardner’s day job is as a nurse case manager for United Healthcare, working with clients to help them navigate the maze that is modern healthcare. Previously, the Yadkinville resident and State Road native spent 13 years working in community and home healthcare, and she knows many community members through that experience.

At the clinics, Gardner used her experience counseling clients in her current position with the soft touch she learned working in home healthcare.

“I was very excited just to help the community,” she said. “At that first clinic, I remember thinking they were so scared. A lot of the elderly had rarely come out of their house.”

Also on the Yadkin County vaccine clinic volunteer roster is Monta Oliver-Davis, the current Yadkinville Mayor Pro Tem and former county deputy director of human services. Davis-Oliver typically volunteers with the triage team.

“I do the temperature check,” she explained. “Once the individuals are checked in at the entrance, we have a machine there that you put your wrist up to, or we have a handheld thermometer.”

Davis-Oliver said she has been impressed with how well the clinics have operated, especially given that county employees are essentially doing double-duty of their regular positions plus operating a vaccine clinic.

“It’s extremely coordinated and it’s a smooth flow,” she said. “Everyone is very professional, very upbeat. It’s just the best form of teamwork I think I have been a part of in a long, long time.”

She said a few patients have expressed fear of the vaccine, but most have simply expressed appreciation.

Davis-Oliver describes herself as a “big believer in public service,” and said she was compelled to do her part in the pandemic. At her first clinic in January, she said she felt excited “being a part of the team and the process of getting individuals vaccinated and trying to get life back to normalcy.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at future vaccine clinics may contact the county at 336-849-7910.

Lisa Michals may be reached at 336-448-4968 or follow her on Twitter @lisamichals3.

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