CLEVELAND, Miss. – Healthcare workers have been at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, saving lives and working tirelessly to combat the virus. The Robert E. Smith School of Nursing (RESSON) at Delta State University has joined the fight.
In partnership with the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors, the Bolivar County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the City of Cleveland, and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), Delta State’s McCool Stadium has become a fully operational COVID-19 vaccination site.
Each Tuesday and Friday since Feb. 23, RESSON faculty and nursing students have been hard at work drawing and administering vaccines to community members, as well as monitoring recipients, checking appointments and other necessary tasks.
Shelby McCrory, a junior nursing student from Terry, considers herself honored to be contributing to this unprecedented, historical event.
“I would never have imagined that I would be involved in a global pandemic. As a nursing student, I feel honored that I have the opportunity to administer the vaccine to the public.”
Similarly, Jennifer Pat-Onwo, a senior from Nigeria, said, “I consider it quite intriguing and somewhat scary, as a nursing student, to be in an era where we are simultaneously studying about and fighting a global pandemic.”
Like many degree programs at Delta State, RESSON emphasizes the hands-on learning aspect with clinical requirements in hospital settings and rotations in maternity, community health, mental health and pediatric nursing. The presence of the state-of-the-art simulation center housed on campus also contributes to the well-rounded, practical experience afforded to the next generation of nurses to come through RESSON.
Vicki Bingham (’88), dean of DSU’s School of Nursing, stated, “Students’ participation in the vaccination site provides an opportunity for them to be a part of a historical moment for public health nursing. They are obtaining a better understanding of public health and they are learning that nursing can occur in any setting, including the outdoors—no matter the weather conditions.”
In addition, Bingham said RESSON students are being exposed to an array of skills.
“Our nursing students and faculty are assisting in all areas of the site with other individuals throughout the campus and community. The Robert E. Smith School of Nursing is excited to be a part of this health service to the people of Bolivar and surrounding counties.”
Pat-Onwo added, “Participating in the COVID-19 vaccination is an opportunity to serve the public during a pandemic that will go down in history. RESSON emphasizes this kind of hands-on learning experience, which has allowed me to build the confidence I hope to see in every future nurse.”
The hands-on learning aspect of the nursing curriculum has served DSU nursing students well, as RESSON has boasted a 99 percent pass rate on the NCLEX-RN, the licensure exam for prospective nurses, for the past six years, including 100 percent in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019.
Bingham said the vaccination site is going very well.
“We are giving both first and second doses of the vaccine,” she shared. “Individuals who receive their first dose at our site will be scheduled for their second dose. If individuals received their first dose at another location, they can schedule their second dose to be given at our site. During the entire process, they never have to leave their vehicle.”
All appointments for vaccinations at the Bolivar County site must be made through MSDH’s vaccine appointment system and will be based on the eligibility guidelines established by the agency. Appointments cannot be made with city, county or university officials.
To make an appointment, visit covidvaccine.umc.edu or call 877-978-6453.