Dr. Alejandro Rios-Tovar with nursing student | Photo courtesy TTUHSC El Paso
Nearly 40 students from the Hunt School of Nursing and the Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso are volunteering to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to our health care heroes at University Medical Center of El Paso.
“About a week before commencement, we were notified about the need for volunteers” said Mariana Madrid, who graduated this past weekend with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. “To represent the Hunt School of Nursing in my last few days as a student was so meaningful and I wanted to give back to our health care heroes.”
University officials add, “In a testament to TTUHSC El Paso’s commitment to serving our community, many students changed their holiday plans or cancelled travel plans to participate.”
Madrid said volunteering during this historic time was very exciting.
“I felt overwhelming waves of relief knowing that theses frontline workers would finally have some kind of defense against this invisible enemy,” Madrid said.
As part of the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the vaccine is being administered to health care professionals on the front lines at hospitals throughout El Paso.
During her time at the Hunt School of Nursing, Madrid and other nursing students did rotations at local hospitals taking care of COVID-19 patients. Madrid cared for pediatric patients after they were no longer COVID-19 positive.
Idarly Escobar, a Hunt School of Nursing student graduating in May 2021, said it was important for her to volunteer because it was a way for her to help and serve her community during the pandemic.
“I was grateful to be part of an experience that gave many people, including myself, hope,” Escobar said.
“During the administration of the vaccine I was able to listen to stories of people who were affected by the virus. People whose health has not been the same after getting COVID-19 and people who have lost loved ones. Many people have been affected by COVID-19 and I am grateful that I have chosen a career where I am able to help.”
Escobar’s clinical rotations this semester was in the ICU and emergency unit where she saw patients who suffered and died from COVID-19.
“I was also able to see how this pandemic has affected frontline workers mentally, physically and emotionally,” Escobar said.
The Hunt School of Nursing and Foster School of Medicine students’ volunteer time is supported by UMC thanks to a Texas Workforce Commission and Department of Labor grant administered by Workforce Solutions Borderplex.
“Workforce Solutions Borderplex is grateful for its partnership with TTUHSC El Paso and UMC,” said Workforce Solutions Borderplex Chief Executive Officer Leila Melendez. “Together we seized on the Disaster Recovery Dislocated Worker Grant from the Department of Labor and quickly put it to use by employing health care students into jobs administering COVID-19 vaccines and saving lives. Partnerships like these are a win-win for the health care industry and the community in the battle against the pandemic. This is what these opportunities were made for!”
As the vaccine is rolled out to the public over the next few months, Madrid wants to reassure people and help them understand the vaccine has been tested and is safe.