NAU nursing instructor Guy Lamunyon is part of a pilot program aimed at bringing COVID-19 vaccines to where people are—and in a pandemic, that means their living rooms.
Lamunyon is working with the Northern Arizona Retired Nurses in Action to staff this community project to get the vaccine to seniors and Arizona residents who are home-bound and cannot get to large vaccination centers. It’s a model program for the state being led by the nonprofit Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition (VVCC), the only one of its kind in the state, and one in which he hopes to involve NAU nursing students next fall.
Lamunyon worked with Dr. Bruce Peek, a retired doctor in the Verde Valley, along with the VVCC to recruit and train other retired health care providers. They then work with Spectrum to provide the vaccine and do the necessary paperwork. Providers pick up the vaccine supplies in the morning, get their schedule and go to each home; at each place, they fill out the paperwork, administer the vaccine and then wait the 15-30 minutes required to ensure the person doesn’t have a reaction. They average 12-15 visits a day, Lamunyon said, and have administered more than 300 vaccines thus far.
The VVCC already has a process in place to reach out to people and schedule appointments for tasks like doctor’s visits, shopping trips and help around the house, so they used the same process to schedule vaccine appointments.
For Lamunyon, a twice-retired psychiatric nurse who can’t seem to make retirement stick, this is one of the best ways he and other health care providers can support their community right now.
“They have some challenge because they’re elderly, they’re in the highest-risk group, and if a delivery person or family member brings COVID to them, that’s it,” he said. “This group is the most vulnerable, and the highest number of casualties is in this octogenarian group.”
This project has implications for NAU nursing students as well. A year ago, nursing faculty had to scramble to make sure their students could still get clinical placements. When the accelerated nursing program started in the summer, Lamunyon connected with VVCC, which was using retired nurses to conduct a survey on patient wellness and readiness for telemedicine among high-risk homebound Verde Valley residents. Lamunyon understood the importance of continued caregiving and connection with these patients.
So, the nursing students partnered with retired nurses to make these calls, getting the kind of health care experience that is becoming increasingly common in a world where increased telemedicine is likely to continue. In the fall, Lamunyon is anticipating using nursing students to make these rounds as well; that will require collaboration with NAU instructors in public and community health as well.
Heidi Toth | NAU Communications
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