Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 04-07-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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2 NORTH PROVIDENCE APRIL 7-13, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION NORTH PROVIDENCE – The Tri-County Community Health Center's, 33 Maple Ave., COVID-19 vaccine clinic is proving to be a well- oiled machine as it helps meet the increased demand with more local zip codes added to the hardest-hit communities lis. "In general, the feedback from our patients in the community is that they absolutely love it," said Dr. Wilfredo Giordano-Perez, Tri-County medical director. "They feel like it's a much warmer, cozier environment to come in. We sit by their side, hold their hand for 15 minutes if they need us to. "We've had several people with a history of anaphylaxis, who have been told not to get their vaccine but took the risk to come," he said. "We assign a nurse to them. It's just amazing to see the reaction that some people have." Tri-County began vaccinating its health center staff at the end of January and into February, said Jennifer Papagolos, marketing and public relations director for Tri- County Community Action Agency. Last Thursday, April 1, was the fourth vaccine clinic for North Providence and some Providence residents at the health center. Papagolos said they transformed the gym at the health center to accommodate the vaccine clinic, which started vaccinating residents about a month ago. Giordano-Perez is on the gover- nor's vaccine advisory committee, which he said helped open the health center as a vaccine clinic. As of last week, they started vaccinating more North Providence residents as the town was placed in a greater pri- ority status. "So we're serving Tier 1 communi- ties, so they are primarily southern Providence and North Providence," Dr. Giordano-Perez said. "We get an allotment from the Department of Health every week somewhere between 600 and 700 additional doses, to where we can vaccinate those high-density communities." With the high-density community designation in place for such zip codes as 02904 and 02908, covering parts of North Providence, the health center offers the Moderna vaccine to people ages 18 and up regardless of medical conditions. After adjusting for age differences, the hospitalization rates in Rhode Island's hardest-hit communities is roughly 3.5 times higher than in the rest of the state, according to officials. People are signing up at www. vaccinateRI.org. If a person is not computer savvy there is also a phone number to call to get an appoint- ment, 844-930-1779. As for how the clinic runs, they have it down to a science. Giordano- Perez said they transformed the gym into a clinic where they can vaccinate about 45 people at a time, and they generally get through 100 vaccines per hour or more. What makes this clinic unique is that most of the people working here are volunteers. "Each volunteer is vetted through a process, an application process," Papagolos said. "Some of our volun- teers handle just the administrative functions, moving the clients through the line and we also have a second- ary process for the staff to actually administer the vaccine." The volunteers who handle the administrative functions or keep patients company do not have to have a medical background. Papagolos said that as the clinics con- tinue each week, they get more and more volunteers. Two such volunteers last Thursday Tri-County's health center leads in effort to vaccinate hardest-hit communities By KAYLA PANU Valley Breeze Staff Writer kayla@valleybreeze.com BREEZE PHOTO BY KAYLA PANU CASEY SARDO, a dietician at the Tri-County Community Health Center and a nurs- ing student at Rhode Island College, fills vials of the COVID-19 vaccine last Thursday at the clinic. See VACCINE, Page 4

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