On Thursday, January 14, 2021, Dr. Rachael Evans, Chief Medical Officer at Henry J. Austin Health Center, shared thoughts about the pandemic with Barrett Young, Chief Executive Officer of The Mission, as Theresa Ross Kennebrew, LPN administered the Moderna vaccine to him.
Young was among the first individuals at The Mission to receive the vaccine, along with anyone else in the Behavioral Health Center who wanted to receive the inoculation.
“Because The Mission and the Henry J. Austin Health Center has such a close relationship,” Dr. Evans said, “we have been able to collaborate quickly in addressing some of the daunting challenges we have faced since March– including initiating telehealth calls, testing on an ongoing basis, getting immediate treatment for anyone who exhibited symptoms, and isolating anyone who needed to be quarantined.”
“Now, with the vaccines being introduced, we are seeing a ray of hope in what has been a long and constant tragedy,” she added. “This last wave of this virus is devastating and we are far from the worst being over.”
For those who do not believe in the necessity to wear masks, wash hands frequently, keep socially distant and get vaccinated, she has strong and compassionate advice: “Picture your most beloved family member or your dearest friend. That is why you are getting this vaccine. I have seen terrible long-lasting effects and far too much death and anguish because this pandemic.”
She continued, “As I carry the weight of those experiences, I just want to emphasize that all of that devastation and heartache this pandemic has wrought is much worse than any possible side effects of the vaccine.”
Young added, “Our close relationship with Dr. Evans and her team has always been important to help keep those we serve stay safe and healthy. And our connection has deepened immensely since March. Knowing that we are in this together, gives me great hope. Henry J Austin has been a great partner during these times, providing testing for intakes into the Behavioral Health Center. Dr Evans is always willing to take a phone call and provide her advice, no matter what time of the day or night. Through the work they do and the work of our other community partners like Capital Health, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, and the City of Trenton, we have been able to keep our very vulnerable population safe.”
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Young. “But it is still far in the distant. I encourage everyone – for yourself and for those you love – to get keep socially distant, wash your hands frequently, refrain from large gatherings – and get vaccinated. We owe that to each other.”