For Dennis Townsend, a recent visit to the Community Vaccination Clinic operating at the Porterville Veterans Memorial Building was confirmation that the community he was born and raised in comes together in times of need. Townsend is the Tulare County Supervisor for District 5, representing Porterville and surrounding communities including Poplar, Woodville, Terra Bella, Ducor, Lindsay and Springville. Joined by Brandy Irwin, Director of Acute Care and Nursing Excellence at Sierra View Medical Center (SVMC), the two received a tour of the vaccination clinic operated by SVMC and Imperial Ambulance from Sean Roberts, Field Supervisor for Imperial Ambulance.
The SVMC-Imperial Ambulance COVID-19 Community Vaccination Clinic launched in May 2021 and more than 1,500 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to date. The site offers first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to individuals 12 years or older, regardless of immigration status.
Townsend has been working closely with Tulare County to make vaccination efforts such as this possible. Since the beginning of the pandemic, he regularly receives calls from concerned residents regarding vaccination and pandemic relief. “They have been really cooperative with the county, very transparent. We’ve had this hand-in-hand cooperation the whole time,” Townsend says of Sierra View. When the opportunity to increase vaccinations in Porterville through a strong partnership became available, Townsend and the Tulare County Board of Supervisors was supportive and continues to help fund the effort and supply the COVID-19 vaccines administered at the vaccination clinic.
Other District 5 responsibilities for Townsend include maintaining roads and infrastructure and supporting small businesses in the area. “We tried to push grant money out to them as soon as we received it from the federal government,” says Townsend. “And now with the with the American Recovery Plan act, as we’ve just received the first portion of that money, a portion of that is going to be used for business recovery, along with still maintaining the vaccinations and the other things that have to do with the health side of things.”
Roberts showed Townsend and Irwin around the main areas of the vaccination clinic: welcome and registration, education, vaccination and waiting areas. Townsend and Sierra View’s Irwin had the chance to greet Sierra View and Imperial Ambulance staff. Currently, health care workers care for registering patients and preparing COVID-19 vaccines while Imperial Ambulance help administer them.
Committed to Porterville, Townsend had an opportunity to live in other places of the world, such as Italy. “We made the conscious choice because this is our family, all of our roots are here, family and friends, and so we made the conscious decision to come back to Porterville,” he says. A local business owner himself, Townsend is the founder of the architectural firm, Townsend Architectural Group. In addition to his responsibilities as a Tulare County Supervisor, he is also an esteemed member of the Sierra View Foundation, a non-profit 501c(3) organization focused on fundraising for the purchase of medical equipment for Sierra View Medical Center. “It’s hard to say how much positive impact there is on a community for having a hospital like this in our town. If you can imagine not having it in our town, to see a well-functioning hospital is serving the needs of the community in my hometown that I grew up in is huge,” says Townsend. The pandemic has only revealed more opportunities for Sierra View to help community members stay safe and live healthier lives. “Here’s another opportunity where they’re offering the vaccination,” says Townsend. “If the community would continue to support the hospital in that, then that will be a big help.”
For Irwin, the visit reminded her of the silver lining behind the battle against COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, Irwin has supported the Porterville community by overseeing all of the hospital’s areas for the care of COVID-19 patients. This includes the Medical-Surgical and ICU/Critical Care services teams. “I’m so impressed with the work that we have done at the bedside and for our community,” says Irwin. “With the vaccine clinic, it’s just a really proud moment to be a part of the solution.” Often, Sierra View staff at the Community Vaccination Clinic are members of the departments under Irwin’s leadership.
No Cure Yet
There is no cure for COVID-19. Irwin urges community members to get informed about the available COVID-19 vaccine because it is one of the most effective defenses against the terrible COVID-19 disease that has robbed Tulare County and the world of many, many loved ones.
This is our way to help protect our community, to help protect our nation. This is what we can do to make a difference. We’re not going to pressure anybody,” Irwin says. “I think that in the end, after you’ve really educated yourself, you will find it is the right thing to do to protect yourself your family your community.” Irwin, herself, was unsure about getting the vaccine months ago. However, after weighing the pros and cons she decided to receive it. She urges the community to do the same.
Community Vaccination Clinic Information
July Schedule: Thursdays – Saturdays.
Closed Saturday, July 3, 2021 in observation of the Fourth of July holiday.
Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Location: Porterville Veterans Memorial Building, 1900 W. Olive Ave., Porterville, CA 93257
Available Vaccine: Pfizer (First or Second Dose)