A Message from Betsy Swanson Hollinger about her experience as a County Disaster Service Worker. Betsy is pictured (bottom right) with the team at our vaccine site in Thousand Oaks at the Goebel Adult Center.
Message from Betsy:
I wanted to share a brief summary of being a Ventura County Disaster Service Worker (DSW), as you may not have had the opportunity to hear from the details on the front lines of our vaccination clinics. I will speak on behalf of the clinic I was asked to manage with Suzy Watkins. It is the Thousand Oaks Goebel Center clinic.
My summary of the experience is that most of our DSW’s (me included) had been teleworking for almost year prior to deployment. The isolation and all the uncertainty COVID created in our lives was strange and hard for everyone. Coming to work at the clinic, although rough at the beginning since we had not interacted that socially with others, was a weird transition and somewhat overwhelming. We all had so little in-person all day interaction for the 10 months prior. None of us knew anything about working in a clinic either, so we all had some mild anxiety starting out. Needing to interact with hundreds of members of our community each day and also with each other demanded a different store of energy and skill from each of us. Since the get go, we were incredibly aligned with the mission of getting our community vaccinated, our purpose was very clear and has been powerful. For the team, we needed to learn who each of us is, what makes us tick, and how can we become a team with such an interdisciplinary group of county DSW’s and travel nurses from all over our country.
Within a few short weeks, magic started happening. A real clinic community and family formed. We got exactly what we were missing from the isolation/learning at home/dysregulated lives etc. We got a sense of belonging and awe of what were tasked to do. Real peer-ships and friendships formed. There were people to chat with about how the day is going, debrief some of the crazy de-escalation stories, and solve clinic issues together all day long. The human spirit needed this for so many of us, regular social contact, check-ins with others, fulfillment from such a strong sense of belonging, not to mention serving the community at a dire time.
I have been told by many of our DSW’s and State nurses too, this has been one of, if not the best work experience of their lives. They have not had a sense of being on a team this supportive, welcoming, eager to share and implement their ideas and have fun together all at the same time. For some it has been a career game-changer.
I am grateful our County asked me to be a part of something amazing. We have vaccinated over 35,000 community members at our center, which was the smallest of the Points of Distribution. From starting with a complete group of strangers and no clinic background myself, to what we all created together is a marvel to me. I just wanted to share what is has been like, so you know how proud we all our to work for and serve our County and have a career, and dare I say life changing experience while doing it.