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Novant Health opens COVID-19 vaccination site at Hurley YMCA

SALISBURY — Sheila Prevatte says her patients are “practically giddy,” and she’s feeling pretty excited, too.

Prevatte, a nurse at Milestone Family Medicine, is working at Novant Health’s vaccination site in the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA and finding that people are “terribly excited to have a chance to be vaccinated.” After a pandemic in which patient volume dropped sharply and staff hours were affected, she’s also eager to do her part to turn the tide of COVID-19.

“I was just so excited last Wednesday to have the opportunity to be here for the first day of the vaccine clinic,” Prevatte said.

Since opening last week, the clinic has administered more than 800 vaccines to existing Novant Health patients. Novant Health executives chose the JF Hurley Family YMCA because its gym provides a large-enough space for the vaccine clinic and leaders of the two organizations have an existing, good relationship, said Rowan Medical Center President and COO Gary Blabon.

In the YMCA, Novant Health also found a location familiar to many patients and staffed with workers employed at offices where people currently receive care, Prevatte said. Already designated as the county’s emergency medical shelter for COVID-19, Richard Reinholz, who leads the Hurley YMCA, said the facility stood ready to assist with vaccines, too.

“We’ve been in contact with Novant throughout to determine whether there was anything we might be able to assist with, “ Reinholz said. “We’ve enjoyed a relationship for many, many years, and this was just another opportunity to partner with another wonderful partner of ours to serve the community as best as we can.”

A sign of tight vaccine supplies, the YMCA site had just 50 Pfizer vaccines to administer after receiving more than 250 on some days last week.

The YMCA site’s capacity is roughly 1,000 doses per day, or 5,000 per week, said Blabon and Desiree Dunston, senior director of professional and support services at Rowan Medical Center. While the Novant site’s allocation passes through the Rowan County Health Department, it wasn’t counted in the 300 doses administered via drive-thru appointments on Wednesday.

Margaret Jones, a retired educator whose daughter is a traveling nurse, received a vaccine Wednesday at the Novant Health site, choosing to stay away from the Rowan Health Department’s drive-thru and becoming one of the more than 6,300 people in the county who have received a first dose.

Jones said she felt OK after receiving her vaccine. She was nervous beforehand and asked one of the workers to hold her hand during the injection.

“I don’t like shots, but when I had this opportunity, I had to do it,” she said.

Jones said she scheduled vaccine appointments elsewhere that she planned to cancel so other people could receive a vaccine.

Reinholz said YMCA staff receive about 60 calls per day inquiring about signing up for a vaccine. However, people who want to be vaccinated at the YMCA should contact their primary care provider to be placed on a waiting list. If there are doses still to be administered once appointments are complete, Novant Health staff will call those on the waiting list.

The Novant Health site is not currently open to the general public.

People who want more information about COVID-19 vaccines or Novant Health’s efforts can visit getvaccinated.org.

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