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Community Regional Medical Centers Begin COVID-19 Vaccinations



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Community Regional Medical Centers chose 50 employees from throughout their hospital system for its first COVID-19 vaccinations Friday.

CRMC spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell said that the vaccine’s initial deployment targeted a wide mix of hospital workers.

“They’re from all different ages and walks of life. They are going to monitor all of these 50 people over the weekend to make sure that there are no side effects,” she said.

“They’re from all different ages and walks of life. They are going to monitor all of these 50 people over the weekend to make sure that there are no side effects.”– CRMC spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell

This is part of an effort to refrain from pulling too many of CMC’s frontline workers off the line at a time the pandemic is surging. Beginning Monday, the hospitals will start with more frontline healthcare workers by staggering the vaccines to mitigate any side effects.

As of Friday morning, 471 Community Medical Centers employees were off work either in self-isolation, or in the case of 277 of them, COVID-19 positive.

CMC First Shots

Most of the first people vaccinated said it felt just like getting a flu shot.

The first to receive the vaccine, Thomas Utecht, M.D., Senior VP, System Chief Medical Officer, said he was honored to be first in line.

“I’m excited for all the people that next week, the thousands of folks, my colleagues and co-workers at Community Medical Centers that are also going to receive this vaccine,” said Utecht.

Jim Comes, CRMC Chair of Emergency Medicine also was one of the first vaccine recipients.

“I’m quite excited about this wonderful thing that’s happened in a very terrible, horrible, no good, bad year,” said Comes. “This is a very early Christmas present for humanity.”

CRMC healthcare worker readies the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. (CRMC)

“I volunteered for the vaccine and got it today because folks we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Everybody needs to do this,” said Jim Davis, Chief of Trauma at CRMC.

Tina Gulbronsen is the Vice President of Medicine for CRMC.

“I got vaccinated because I want my kids to get their life back and I want to make sure I protect those most vulnerable around me,” he said.

Kaweah Delta Medical Center

Kaweah Delta Medical Center began vaccinating healthcare workers at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19 on Friday morning.

Dr. Wally Huynh, an internal medicine physician who has cared for an estimated 150 COVID patients, was the first to be vaccinated. The second to get vaccinated was Johnny Mata, Jr. a respiratory therapist.

“It’s definitely an honor and a blessing to receive the vaccine because it’s going to help protect myself, my family, my coworkers, and my community,” said Huynh.

Kaweah Delta will continue administering the Pfizer vaccine to 1,950 of its 5,100 employees through Dec. 30. Twenty-one days later, the second dose will be given to those who have received the vaccine. Kaweah Delta expects shipment of more vaccine next week, possibly the Moderna vaccine.

Kaweah Delta Medical Center begins giving COVID-19 vaccinations to healthcare workers Friday December 18th. (Kaweah Delta Medical Center)

On Friday, Kaweah Delta was caring for 145 COVID-19 patients with 17 COVID patients in its 41-bed ICU, where at 7 a.m., nine beds were available.

On Dec. 12, Kaweah Delta reached an all-time high of 150 COVID-19 patient admissions. Staffing continues to be a problem with employees on leave either from exposure or for other reasons, or because they are quarantined because they live with someone who is COVID-19 positive.