Featured Photo Caption: Susan Howland vaccinates Jeff Daughtery, 63, at the Corner Health Mart Pharmacy in Greenfield, Ohio.

For over a year, the world has been working together to save lives from the COVID-19 virus by social distancing, wearing face coverings, and reducing in-person gatherings. Healthcare professionals have cared for sick patients, and Community Action Agencies have adapted operations to continue delivering much-needed help to families impacted by economic hardships. Partnerships have blossomed to make meeting all the needs a reality, and now that vaccines are available, one of those partnerships has made a considerable difference in Highland County.

Eric Zint and staff at CHMP hard at work during the COVID-19 vaccination clinic and maintaining regular operations.

Corner Health Mart Pharmacy in Greenfield, Ohio, was an early COVID-19 testing site, bringing access to their community last spring. Before tests were available at the pharmacy, patients had to travel many miles to a pop-up or alternate testing site outside of town. After seeing the local COVID response site’s need and value, the pharmacy readied itself to respond to the next step.

In October, the Ohio Department of Health and Governor DeWine surveyed local healthcare providers to determine which sites could vaccinate their communities. Eric Zint, R.Ph., President of Corner Health Mart Pharmacy, was ready to answer their call.

“When we’re in a state of emergency, I feel it’s all-hands-on-deck to help the community,” Eric said.

After a thorough evaluation of his partnerships and the pharmacy’s capacity, Eric believed he and his staff, along with strong community partners, could coordinate a variety of distribution methods for a three-county area. And the corner pharmacy that could, did, becoming one of the first pharmacies in Ohio to offer vaccinations to 1B-eligible residents.

In February 2021, Eric and his team began administering vaccinations to eligible residents in Highland, Fayette, and Ross counties. The pharmacy handled the appointments and shot administration, and the Highland County Health Department and Highland County Community Action Organization coordinated staff and volunteers to complete paperwork and to enter information into the state’s tracking system. Together, the teams ensured that no doses were ever wasted, and their usual operations—providing needed medications and medical supplies to customers—remained quick and efficient.

Volunteers from Highland County Community Action, the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, and others in the community came together to process between 60 and 120 vaccinations each day shipments arrived at the pharmacy. Susan Howland, a former OB nurse and vaccine clinic volunteer, was impressed with the pharmacy’s organization of the process. “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I volunteered—whether I’d be doing paperwork and shots at the same time. I was excited to see others volunteering with me to keep it all flowing well,” she shared.

Jeff Daughtery, 63, tested positive for COVID-19 in November 2020. As a stem cell transplant recipient, he felt fortunate to have experienced only mild symptoms. When he became eligible for vaccination, he called Corner Health Mart Pharmacy to get an appointment. “I called and asked how close I was on the list to getting a shot,” Daughtery said. “I was fortunate an appointment had been canceled and was able to get right in!” Jeff encouraged others to get vaccinated, saying he felt good about helping the community. “The operation here is smooth, and I’m happy to do my part.”

Deborah Adams, 67 of Hillsboro, had trouble getting an appointment when she received a call from the pharmacy asking if she could travel to Greenfield for a vaccine. “I’m about 20 minutes from here, so I said yes. I just got my first shot,” she shared as she waited in the lobby for monitoring. “My parents, who are 88 and 92, said, ‘You can’t come over until you get your shot.’ So of course, I told them that I’d get it. I’m very glad to be here today.”

Community Action has a long history of working within their communities to improve lives, whether that be to operate meal sites, assist families in maintaining housing and utilities, or jump in and help at pandemic testing or vaccination sites.

OACAA staff assist Highland County Health Department’s vaccination clinic.

“The sooner we can get this pandemic under control, the sooner our neighbors can return to full employment, seniors can leave their homes safely, and children can return to school full-time,” Julia Wise, executive director of Highland County Community Action, said. “We are eager to help our local providers in any way that we can so we can get our community on a fast-track to full recovery.”

Beginning March 29, 2021, all Ohioans age 16+ will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, according to an announcement from Governor DeWine. Clinics operated by Corner Health Mart Pharmacy and Highland County Department of Health will continue to be available. For a vaccination site near year, visit the Ohio Department of Health’s vaccination scheduling portal at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.