When the COVID-19 pandemic first disrupted life in early 2020, the news reported vaccinations would be a key component to returning normalcy. Fast forward to December 2020, the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines were being received throughout the country.
Patty Young, a proud volunteer board member for the Mercy Health Foundation of Clark and Champaign Counties, and her sister, Debbie Woods, who sits on our ministry’s quality board committee, never doubted they would be in line for their COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they were eligible.
“I’ve seen first-hand the effects COVID-19 has had on my community, my friends and my family,” Patty says. “For me, my health and helping others with theirs is an obligation. It’s something I have always been passionate about.”
Dedication to health care is nothing new to Patty and her sister. Sixteen years ago, they founded Sisters United for Prevention. This coalition of African American women focuses on promoting cancer awareness, education, screenings and more to help others understand the significance of early-stage diagnosis.
As more and more Ohioans have become eligible for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, pockets of our communities remain hesitant to sign up and get their shot. Patty knew her business, Young Hair, Inc. had a chance to help public health officials by connecting people with shots while addressing the reasons behind some of the African American community’s hesitation.
Leading by example, Patty received her shot as soon as she was able, and her decision to do so was quite simple.
“I had a great-grandson born during the pandemic. For me, I was going to do whatever I needed so I could hold him, kiss him and love on him the first chance that I could. We’ve all suffered and for me, I believed the science. More importantly, listened to my heart that told me this was what in needed to do.”
Patty knew she couldn’t help others alone, especially while running a business that was also focused on keeping clients safe. Enter her sister, Debbie Woods.
“Like Patty, I knew what was needed to be done,” Debbie says. “Beginning in late February, I began having conversations, fielding questions and helping to schedule clients and families through the Clark County Health District.”
Three weeks into March, Debbie had scheduled more than 260 appointments from family, friends, clients and others throughout Clark County that she believes may not have signed up otherwise. Since then, her reach has expanded. Recently, she helped coordinate a busload of people who all needed their vaccine.
“Naturally, one of the first questions I get is if I have received mine,” Debbie says with a smile. “I always say of course, let me tell you how it felt and what you can expect. It’s a story on repeat but one that will never get old for me.”
Although her goal is to make appointments, Debbie also takes time fielding follow up calls from people after they have received their vaccine.
“They are grateful, they feel blessed and always share personal stories of either loved ones they lost from COVID-19 or their personal diagnosis,” Debbie shares.
Both Patty and Debbie agreed that in their community, it comes down to trust, a lack of understanding and an opportunity to educate.
“Many African Americans pull from experiences in their past. But today, being a board member for the Mercy Health Foundation, I’ve had an insider look at the effects COVID-19 has had,” Patty says. “I want people to know it is real, it is serious, and this is the only way for us to get through this.”
Our Springfield market is proudly partnering with the Clark County Combined Health District as well as the Champaign County Health Department to help vaccinate the greater Springfield Community.
Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to the COVID-19 vaccine.