I am excited to inform you that Worcester State will be a site for COVID-19 vaccinations, as early as next week, in the John P. Brissette ’88 Competition Court of our Wellness Center. There will be a public announcement later today.
As soon as the Commonwealth began exploring vaccination sites, Worcester State raised its hand to serve as one. I believed our location in the city of Worcester, and the Wellness Center in particular, were well-suited for the goals of the state’s vaccination program. We have a facility with ample, high-ceilinged space, and easy, ADA-compliant egress, featuring nearby parking in the North Lot.
I also felt that such a venture would provide learning and, potentially, work opportunities for our students – opportunities many have lost due to restrictions related to the pandemic. With the support of our Board of Trustees and our academic and administration leaders, I advocated for Worcester State’s selection as a host site.
Over the course of the past few weeks, interest in the Wellness Center picked up. Working with city officials, Commonwealth Medicine, and Saint Vincent Hospital, we set about assisting with logistical and facilities-related support. Several Worcester State employees have worked tirelessly to turn the idea into a reality- among them School of Education, Health, and Natural Sciences Dean Linda Larrivee, our lead on volunteer partnership opportunities; Mike McKenna, director of Conference and Events Services, our lead on logistical aspects; and Stacey Luster, general counsel and assistant to the President for employment and equal opportunity.
The clinic will be run by Saint Vincent’s, with vaccine logistics handled by Commonwealth Medicine, which is led by our alumna and trustee, Lisa Colombo, DNP. We will provide some staff support, primarily from maintainers, police, and students, especially those in health disciplines. We also expect that our community will be tapped to provide volunteer support.
Saint Vincent’s, following state guidelines, will determine who receives the vaccines and how they are scheduled.
As for campus impact, only the north part of the Wellness Center will be dedicated to this operation – the competition gym and track, and the areas surrounding it. The remainder of the Wellness Center will be open for recreational, fitness, sports and other activities. The North parking lot will be off-line for campus use, dedicated to those accessing the clinic. The Administration Building parking lot will be used for clinic workers.
The contract with our partners holds us harmless for any costs to the campus for hosting the clinic and establishes other parameters. It runs through June 30, 2021, and may be extended.
As our current strategic plan indicates, we are a “public institution that takes its public mission seriously.” Giving back to the region – the institution as engaged citizen, if you will – is part of our DNA. I am pleased we are able to partner with the city, the state, Commonwealth Medicine, and Saint Vincent Hospital to bring a large-scale vaccination site to our city.
President Barry M. Maloney