Community partnerships fill the Adult Immunization void in San Antonio
By Enomie Rosenthal, Wesley Nurse
I was invited by the executive director of Agape Ministry to attend their volunteer appreciation luncheon in May. Dr. A. Mangla, assistant director of the Metropolitan Health Department was a guest speaker at the luncheon. He spoke about various statistics in Bexar County. At the end of his presentation, he opened the floor for questions. Prior to the luncheon, I had been looking for free adult immunizations for the underserved in my community and was not able to find any resources. There were no shortages for free children immunizations, but none for adults. While researching information on adult immunizations, I found adult immunizations rates in the United States remain significantly low, falling well below national targets according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Bexar County I was not able to pull up accurate numbers. I relayed my dilemma to Dr. A. Mangla after the presentation, and he graciously agreed to a follow up meeting to discuss adult immunizations in-depth.
We soon discovered there was a strong need in Bexar County. We strengthened our efforts by involving several local agencies in a conversation on how to address the issue. Collaboratively, we decided to host an Adult Immunization Clinic in San Antonio. I was able to secure a location at the Bethany United Methodist Church (4102 Eisenhauer) where I am stationed as a Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurse. We contacted vendors to participate. Food was donated for volunteers, vendors and attendees. We got the word out tapping into the channels and networks of all community agencies involved. As the word got out, there was a real buzz stirring.
When the day finally came, I have to admit a nervous anxiousness overcame me. To compound this, I heard rain was in the forecast for the day. I prayed, "Please God let there be a good turnout." I kept thinking, "I just don't want to fail."
When the doors opened, the anxiousness melted away and I was overcome with joy as I saw a full line of smiling faces.
I hustled about the day, visiting with vendors, checking on the rooms that were assigned for the immunizations and making sure everything was running smoothly. An event volunteer heard one the of the attendees say, "this is good for the community." I count that as a success! If we only touch one life, then we are successful. I also learned that God has my back and I need to trust Him no matter what the situation.
Beyond touching the life of participants, I am confident I've built a strong network of community agencies and leaders to bring about positive change in the health care landscape in San Antonio and beyond. I am hopeful to repeat this success next year.