Front-line workers at CHI St. Joseph Hospital receive COVID-19 vaccine

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Posted at 12:35 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 19:28:10-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Physicians, nurses and other frontline workers at CHI St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday morning.

"Christmas came early and I'm very fortunate and everybody's excited to get it," said St. Joseph Hospital Emergency Physician Joseph Karpinsky. "You know, the data has been heading in the right direction with this. So we're very fortunate to be one of the first ones to receive it."

The main hospital campus received 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccination, and their east campus received 1,500. The hospitals did not have the necessary freezers to receive the Pfizer vaccination earlier in December which is why, in part, this is their first shipment of a coronavirus vaccination.

St. Joseph Hospital Gynecologist Dr. Magdalene Karon said she took the vaccine for her pregnant patients, calling it her "responsibility."

"We have to set an example," she said. "And then, let other people be brave and step forward."

Karpinsky said he took the virus for a similar reason.

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"You can't ask people to do things without actually doing it yourself," he said. "So, you know, receiving the vaccine and showing people that it's safe and, you know, not only that it's beneficial is very paramount and move forward in the situation."

St. Joseph Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist Dr. Charles Kennedy said Wednesday was a special day in the life of St Joseph's Hospital and East Campus, adding tha the past 10 months have been unprecedented in many ways.

"I'm an old guy who survived HIV and SARS and MERS and Ebola and Zika, and the quality of care that's been provided by both of our hospitals here in Lexington over the last 10 months has been absolutely phenomenal," he said.

Dana Durham, a CCR Nurse at St. Joseph Hospital said the past few months have been "devastating," saying they have seen a higher volume of "very sick patients than we've ever seen before."

"For me personally, it's been very emotionally and mentally exhausting," said Durham. "We care for our patients, very deeply, so we want to see them do well and we're used to a lot of people recovering and doing better and getting to go home and we haven't seen that at the same rate we're used to. So it's been very hard. It's been very sad."

Karpinsky shared some of her sentiments explaining "It's been very, very overwhelming. A lot of fear at the start of it. You know, we weren't equipped and we weren't prepared and we've made great strides to improve that and every day we're getting better and we do have a very good grasp on the situation and we continue to see it but our comfort level improves and, you know, we have a great amount of staff and support here that have allowed us to provide very high-quality care, so it's getting better every single day."

Although yet to be proven, doctors say the speed of the coronavirus vaccine development may alter the future process.

Stressing that it is too early to know anything for certain Kennedy said, "I think you will see basically that the time from basic science development in the laboratory to administration to patients at the bedside will probably be shortened. And that may be one of the silver linings and unanticipated blessings of the rapidity with which the COVID-19 vaccine has been developed that technology likely will be able to be parlayed to other infectious diseases in the future."