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Reaching the Homebound – OCH Goes the Extra Mile to Make COVID-19 Vaccine Accessible

Muggie Brooks sits in her wheelchair at her kitchen table and pauses from eating her chicken-pot-pie to get her COVID-19
vaccination.
“That’s it?” she asked. “You didn’t even interrupt dinner!”

The 90-year-old lifelong Starkville resident was one of eight people OCH Regional Medical Center Paramedics Shedrick Hogan, NREMT-P, and Stephen Pannell, NREMT-P, made home visits to on Friday to administer the COVID vaccine. With the scheduling help of nursing administration, Hogan and Pannell mapped out their route and hit the road at 8 a.m., traveling to all corners of Oktibbeha County to make the vaccine accessible to some of the most vulnerable.

“Usually when people call us, they’re having the worst day of their lives, so this is easy compared to the house calls we normally make,” said Pannell, who along with Hogan received his vaccine in December when OCH received its first supply.

Hogan and Pannell have their system down – one fills out the necessary paperwork and discusses the possible side effects with the patient’s caregiver, while the other gets the shot ready and administers it. The vaccine is the Johnson & Johnson brand which only requires one dose.

“Your arm may be sore and you may run a little fever over the next few days,” Pannell explained to Brooks.

None of the recipients seem hesitant or afraid of getting their shot or the possible side effects. For many of the homebound, the worst has already happened—being even more isolated than they were before the pandemic. A vaccine means seeing their loved ones in person.

Family is important to Brooks, and she has a large one. She raised 11 children but has lost count of the number of grandchildren. She’s now a great, great grandmother.

On February 13 of this year, Brooks turned 90, but her home wasn’t filled with family like it would normally be during such a celebration.

“Before this stuff [COVID-19] got out there, there would be 80 people in this little place. We always had a good time. There was no sitting room – standing room only. Now I just tell them to call me, and let me talk to them on the phone.”

Every morning Brooks’ daughter-in-law gets her ready for the day while her son cooks her breakfast. Because of them and others who help take care of her, Brooks decided she wanted to get vaccinated.

“I thought, well, if they have to get the vaccine, and they have to take care of me, I should take it too. I was just wondering how I was going to get it,” said Brooks.

"Alright young lady, your 15 minutes is up,” said Hogan after monitoring Brooks for reactions after her shot, and then he asked, “Is there anything else we can do for you while we’re here?”

This is a question Hogan asked at every house, and the answer is always, “no.” It seems making a house call to provide a vaccination that could get things back to “normal” is more than enough for today.

“Anything we can do to help the community and end this pandemic, it’s a win-win for us,” said Hogan.

In her 90 years, Brooks said she’s never seen anything like the COVID-19 pandemic, but she relied on her faith to help her through it.

“God has always taken care of me and helped me through bad situations,” she said.

Walking to the EMS vehicle parked in the gravel drive outside Brooks’ home, Pannell said, “This is another way to fight COVID - give it one more good kick in the teeth.”

To request a vaccination at home, please call 662-615-2981.

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