When it comes to providing much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccinations to Veterans in Nebraska and Western Iowa, it has been a significant community effort involving many different organizations.

Such was the case Feb. 10 when the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System conducted a major COVID-19 Veteran Vaccination Outreach Clinic in Shenandoah, Iowa.

Nearly 440 area Veterans were scheduled to receive their first dose of the vaccine. The local outpatient clinic reached out to local community partners to find a venue large enough to handle the surge in Veterans expected.

Joyce Portz is the nurse manager for the Shenandoah VA clinic. When she contacted the local Elks Club, they quickly agreed to allow the VA staff from Shenandoah and Omaha to transform two of their large rooms into an outreach vaccination clinic.

Elks Club part of total team effort

“They were extremely generous. We can’t say enough about their support as well as our local Veterans organizations who came out to help us conduct this clinic. It really was a total team effort,” Portz said.

Veterans appreciated the effort, too. An unnamed Veteran arranged to have a bouquet of roses dropped off at the Elks Club clinic. Portz said he left instructions that each one of the nurses was to receive a flower at the end of the day for the work they were doing on behalf of Veterans.

“Oh, my goodness. It’s just great,” said Whitney Clayton, a VA nurse at the Shenandoah clinic. “We are here to take care of Veterans. For one of them to do something like that, it’s really touching.”

Portz agreed. “It really makes you feel good to know that someone thinks so highly of what the nurses are doing here. That they would go out of their way to buy flowers. It is really touching.”

Pictured above are Carla Bird, RN; Whitney Clayton, LPN; Michelle Holmes, LPN; and Joyce Portz, RN, clinic nurse manager.

Generous support of community partners

According to Eileen Kingston, associate director for Patient Care, the current VA COVID-19 vaccination effort wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of many different community partners.

“We have enjoyed tremendous support from many different partners throughout Nebraska and Western Iowa as we continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to our area Veterans,” she said.

This includes partners like the Nebraska National Guard, which is allowing VA to use its readiness centers to conduct Veteran Vaccination Clinics and the Elks Club in Shenandoah.

Many different Veteran and volunteer service organizations have provided significant support to the daily and weekend vaccination clinics.

“This is truly a community effort,” Kingston said. “It really helps underscore the idea that we’re all in this together.”

Kevin Hynes is a public affairs officer for VA Nebraska-Western Iowa.

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Published on Feb. 18, 2021

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One Comment

  1. Scott February 18, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    I’m a retired 64 year old USAF MSgt currently VA rated 100% Permanent and Total (For my Heart) + SMC-S for greater than 60% additional Disability.. Additionally, the VA denies Service Connected Disability for COPD stage II, my last Cat Scan showed additionally that Emphysema has started, Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Diabetes Type II, Narcolepsy, I recently had my 5th left ear drum replaced after being grounded from Combat Aircrew 28 years ago for blowing my 4th left ear drum, Right Shoulder Reverse Replaced (due to Arthritis) and have fallen 45 times since my last Heart event in March of 2015(Knocking myself out once and breaking my Humorous another time and have suffered Pneumonia twice (the last time requiring 4 days hospitalization. In short, at 64 I’m considered 1c in order of CDC guidelines. I hear from friends of similar circumstances who are younger than me already getting the Covid -19 vaccine already! I am Housebound aside from Specialist and Lab appointments every 90 days.
    I take better than 20 medications a day, Inject myself and have to sleep on a BY-PAPP. Do I not have enough co-morbidities to get vaccinated or is there a plan to slim down your Disability rolls? Can anyone help, I called Dorn VA and the line just hung up on me.

    Scott A Gaston, MSgt, USAF (Ret)

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