Pitt volunteers administer vaccines to Johnstown community housing


Kelly Alberts preps Sharon Cruickshank, a resident of one of the community housing towers, for her shot in the Connor Tower Community Room, Saturday, March 13, 2021.

Josalyn McMillan, News Editor

Early Saturday morning, Pitt-Johnstown Nursing Department members joined forces with the Johnstown Housing Authority and the Richland Family Health Center to administer a few hundred COVID-19 vaccines to residents of the Town House, Vine and Connor Towers in downtown Johnstown.

One year and two days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over 36 million people have been fully vaccinated in the United States.

“Richland Family Health Center is excited to get shots into the arms of the individuals of Johnstown. We are here to serve the community and provide (Patients First) medical care to everyone,” said CEO of Richland Family Health Center, William Kurtycz.

Assistant professors of nursing, Mallory Ferguson and Dawn Drahnak, worked alongside senior nursing student, Abby Bell, and Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center RN, Kelly Alberts, to give residents their first dose of the Maderna vaccine.

Residents waited patiently outside of their community rooms to receive their shot. Many of them were ecstatic and repeatedly thanked the nurses and health workers for making the vaccine available to them.

Others were more hesitant and kindly asked for more information on the process and research, which volunteers were more than happy to provide.

This is a common concern among those with health issues that are most at risk for the virus, which is one of the reasons these downtown housing buildings were targeted as possible clinic sites.

Many residents of the towers, all of whom are elderly and or disabled, cannot drive and do not have access to the internet.

Without the clinic, these individuals would not have had the opportunity to get vaccinated and learn about the data surrounding the virus.

Clinics like these have been gaining speed as more and more vaccines are being delivered to distributors.

Pitt-Johnstown nursing students have been helping with administering shots at multiple locations around the city, including on campus.

These nursing students will continue to work with community vaccine partners to assist with vaccinations in the coming weeks.