Fort Collins, Colo. (Dec. 15, 2020) – UCHealth administered the state’s first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a health care worker Monday afternoon at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. Minutes later, UCHealth Memorial Hospital provided the state’s second COVID-19 vaccine to an emergency department nurse in Colorado Springs.
Kevin Londrigan was the first person to receive a shot at PVH, the same hospital he started working as a respiratory therapist about 20 years ago. These days, he works at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland and has been directly working with COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
Like many people, he has underlying health conditions – hypertension and diabetes to name just a couple – and he knows those put him at greater risk of developing a serious illness should he contract the virus. The vaccine, he said, will help him to continue to be healthy enough to help his patients.
Londrigan said the rollout of the first vaccine is the turning point so many health care workers have been waiting for. “Now we will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
The dose he received was one of approximately 3,900 doses that PVH received Monday morning. Memorial also received 3,900 doses.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis was on site at PVH to witness Londrigan’s vaccination among several others and remarked about the sacrifices health care workers make to be able to care for others.
“Can you imagine the precautions we all take avoiding COVID; they’re with the COVID patients day in, day out. Some of them have to live in separate rooms from the rest of their families or have for periods of time. Some have even stayed in hotel rooms. Kevin is at additional risk. Just what they have gone through — thank you Kevin. There’s no way we can say thank you enough.”
In all, 50 UCHealth health care workers – from nurses and respiratory therapists to environmental services technicians, emergency department staff and critical care physicians – received the COVID-19 vaccine at these two UCHealth facilities on Monday.
The first Memorial employee to receive the vaccine – and the second person in the state – was emergency department registered charge nurse Jeremy Hulsker.
“I’m ready for life to get back to normal,” he said. In the emergency department, Hulsker has cared for dozens of COVID-19 patients since the pandemic swept across the world. On Sunday, for instance, he cared for at least 10 patients over 12 hours, most of that time spent in COVID gear.
Why did he want to be vaccinated? Jeremy said he wants to be an example for the community and a role model to others. He’s also seen young coworkers fall ill to the virus, and he wants to see his family.
These vaccination events were just the beginning of the health’s system’s roll out of the vaccine to health care workers. UCHealth is expecting to receive approximately 17,000 doses of the vaccine this week altogether, which will be distributed to UCHealth employees at several locations across the state.
While UCHealth experts agree it is great news that vaccines are now being distributed, they emphasize that it is important to know that it will take time for the vaccines to be available broadly. UCHealth encourages everyone to remain diligent, wash hands, wear masks, watch their distance from others, and avoid gatherings with others. If anyone has even mild symptoms of COVID-19, they should isolate themselves to avoid potentially spreading it to others. They should absolutely seek medical care if needed.
UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. UCHealth includes 25,000 employees, 12 acute-care full-service hospitals and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth is dedicated to providing unmatched patient care in the Rocky Mountain West. Offering more than 150 clinic locations, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.
Contact: Kelly Tracer