HCMC begins COVID-19 staff vaccinations; ‘Today, we take over that battle,’ CEO says

Five Hennepin Healthcare workers at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis got their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday afternoon.

HCMC staff said they had the highest volume of COVID patients in the initial surge of cases of any hospital in the Twin Cities.

"It’s been an incredible almost 300 days of sweat and tears by these team members, they’ve done an incredible job battling this virus in this pandemic and today is the day we take over that battle," Hennepin Healthcare Chief Executive Officer Jennifer DeCubellis said.

HCMC received 1,950 doses of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine on Thursday.

In the intensive care unit, Nurse Heidi Proehl said what she’s seen with COVID patients’ struggles is unlike anything she’s ever dealt with in her dozen years at the medical center.

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"I’m very grateful we are offered this opportunity, it needs to come to an end," Proehl said.

The first round of the COVID vaccine that Proehl received Friday, she said, brings relief for some of the stress that front-line workers have carried home while trying to keep their loved ones healthy during the pandemic.

"Hopefully, everyone can get back to their families, their regular lives, we can protect ourselves to help protect other people," Proehl said.

Doctor Shirlee Xie also got her first COVID-19 vaccine dose on Friday.

"I feel it’s the first moment I’ve been able to be the front line,” Dr Xie said. “I can prevent people from getting sick now, before I was just taking care of them when they were already ill, so this is my chance to actually protect other people."