by Mohsin Khan, district manager in Jersey City, N.J.
16 February 2021
The same day a Jersey City pharmacy team was scheduled for a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at a long-term care facility, 18 inches of snow pummeled the area. District manager Mohsin Khan shares the story of his team’s perseverance.
Pharmacy team in snowWalgreens team members (back, from left): Cindy Margaritonda, Mrunali Amin, Rika Chokhawala, Aerin An, Monalben Shah, Fariha Choudhury. (Front): Mohsin Khan, Hirah Malik. Not pictured: Grace Liu, Beatrice Rivera.
 

Recently, Walgreens was scheduled to staff a vaccine clinic at a long-term care facility called Centerbridge Apartments in Bridgewater, N.J. The night before the clinic, a forecast for a blizzard rolled in: 18 inches of snow was headed our way.

We were debating what to do until 8 in the evening. I spoke to my healthcare supervisor, Shrey Patel, and we considered postponing the clinic to another date, but we realized the residents were counting on us to get their second dose of the vaccine.

So we decided to shift the clinic to start earlier in the day – from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The winds were predicted to pick up a lot after 3 p.m., so this would allow us to complete the clinic before the worst of the storm hit. We discussed the new plan with all of the pharmacists, and they agreed.

One the morning of the clinic, we started administering vaccines in Apartment 1 – the first of the facility’s two buildings. Around 11 a.m., we began to realize we may not have enough vaccines or time to get to the folks in the second building before the clinic was scheduled to end. So I asked the team, “What do we want to do? Do we want to stay and get everybody vaccinated?” Our pharmacists are wonderful. Everybody agreed we should stay and make sure we vaccinate every single person.
 
Pharmacy team in snow
Certain Walgreens stores are designated as “hubs” that store the vaccine, so I volunteered to go and pick up extra doses at the nearby hub. But at that point, it was snowing pretty heavily. It was a 20-minute drive there and back, and on my way back, I got stuck on the highway. AAA was running an hour late. Eventually, a Centerbridge employee with an SUV and a chain came and pulled me out. Luckily, all the vaccines are stored in a safe and secure cooler. When we got back to the facility, everyone applauded us. They got very emotional when they knew we could complete the clinic for the second apartment. Some were in tears.

We wrapped up around 4 p.m., and at that point, there was at least a foot of snow on the ground, if not more. The team helped shovel each other’s cars out. From there, we all headed home in 50 mph winds. It was difficult, but everyone made it home safely. It just goes to show the lengths our team members have been going, and demonstrates their courage, strength and commitment to patient care.