Health care workers at all three of Thundermist Health Center’s locations, including those in West Warwick and South Kingstown, have received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Bourassa said hundreds of workers at the three campuses were immunized by Dec. 31. Many have been on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, at Thundermist’s respiratory clinics, or they’ve been providing various sorts of health care – medical, dental, behavioral and social services – despite the challenges of the pandemic.
“Primary care serves an important role in this crisis,” said Dr. Bourassa. “Thundermist Health Center remained opened to our communities ensuring their health care needs were met during an unprecedented emergency. In addition, we provided specialty care and testing for people with COVID-19.”
Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 1, Thundermist Health Center provided care to more than 50,000 Rhode Islanders during some 274,000 patient visits.
At the respiratory clinics, Thundermist employees provided COVID-19 care nearly 12,000 times and administered nearly 11,000 COVID-19 tests, Bourassa said.
“Our employees have been on the front lines of this crisis,” said Thundermist President and CEO Jeanne LaChance. “Their bravery, dedication, and sacrifices helped many in our community during the last ten months. Vaccinating our health care workforce means our nearly 700 employees will continue to be able to serve our community and help limit the spread of COVID-19.”
The medical director of the city-based facility, infectious disease expert Dr. Sapna Chowdhry, urged all Rhode Islanders to get the vaccine.
“We are thankful there is a vaccine and studies show it is safe and effective,” said Dr. Chowdhry. “Together, we can stop the spread of the virus and begin to return to a sense of normalcy.”
Natalia Munoz, medical assistant lead; Aminata Gassama, medical assistant lead; Megan McVay, a nurse practitioner; and Daniel Zariczny, a behavioral health clinician, were among the first employees to be vaccinated.
“I am getting vaccinated to keep everyone in our community safe and help end this pandemic,” Zariczny said.
All employees were scheduled for a second dose of the vaccine in late January. The vaccine requires two doses to be effective.
The vaccine is not yet available to patients, but Thundermist says they should follow the clinic’s social media for updates on availability.