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Rising to the Challenge: Students, faculty and staff will be among nearly 70 CHS volunteers at Kroger Field Saturday

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

When Jerry Clevinger heard there was a need for qualified individuals to help administer COVID-19 vaccines to the public at UK’s Kroger Field site, he didn’t hesitate.

“From a health care provider prospective, being able to give something like this back to your community is why you make the decision to devote your life to it,” said Clevinger, who has worked as a frontline paramedic for nearly seven years with the Frankfort Fire & EMS. “To offer myself as help in preventing and controlling the spread of this virus is the very least I can do for others in this unfortunate situation.”

Clevinger is also a member of the 2021 cohort of the Physician Assistant Studies program, and he will be one of nearly 70 volunteers from UK’s College of Health and Sciences to participate in the UK COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Kroger Field.

Just a few weeks ago, University officials put out the call for qualified volunteers to come out on weekends and help in the process. Each of the health care-related colleges were designated a Saturday, and employees could sign up for both clinical or non-clinical roles.

“From a community perspective, taking part in a campaign that is leading the way for protecting yourself and others within our community is a small act of kindness,” Clevinger said. “It shows the love, care and support you have for the overall health and well-being of our community.”

The UK Kroger Field COVID-19 vaccination clinic, the largest in Kentucky, is vaccinating more than 2,000 people per day. The clinic operates from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

“The fact that we had so many more people volunteer than were needed is a testament to the deep humanity in each,” said Janice Kuperstein, PhD, PT, MSED, professor and associate dean of faculty advancement and clinical engagement. “I am really proud to serve amongst such caring people.”

Kuperstein said Saturday would actually be her Sabbath day, when she would not typically work. But she said helping with vaccines is the “opposite” of work.

“I will see it as a Holy Day,” she said. “I am so incredibly humbled and thankful for being permitted to do my small part of helping people receive the vaccine. We receive it in memory of those who have died through this terrible ordeal, and in honor of their families who suffered along with them. It is in honor of those who worked while some of the rest of us quarantined, including the many health care heroes and essential workers. It is with thanks for the wisdom of the scientists and the courage of the trial volunteers, without whom we would not have achieved this moment in time.”

Chris Swartz, PhD, MLS (ASCP)CM, assistant professor in Medical Laboratory Science, says this is an example of the power of the UK community.

“Our duty as health care professionals includes rising to the challenge of the moment posed by the global emergence of COVID-19,” he said. “There is a staggering number and surplus of volunteers for the University of Kentucky vaccination clinic at Kroger Field. This serves as a testament to our collective desire to contribute our time in service and assistance to our fellow residents of Kentucky.”

As Clevinger noted, it also says something about the University as a whole.

“It shows that here at the University of Kentucky, we genuinely care about you,” he said.

Those interested in volunteering in the future can SIGN UP HERE.