History made as 300 SEMC patients receive COVID-19 vaccine


Sleepy Eye Medical Center held its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Sleepy Eye Event Center, successfully administering first doses of the vaccine to 300 patients. In the days leading up to the event, these patients, ages 65 years of age and older, were randomly selected and notified that they were eligible to receive the vaccine.

Sleepy Eye Medical Center administered first does of COVID-19 vaccine to 300 patients on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Event Center. Pictured are some of SEMC’s vaccinators at Saturday’s event, from left: James Mangen, RN; Lacey Groebner, RN; and Danielle Bruns, RN.

“It truly was a special day for our patients who were able to receive the vaccine. This is our first step toward improving the lives of our patients by providing significant protection from COVID-19,” said Kevin Sellheim, SEMC Administrator.

According to Sellheim, this was SEMC’s first allotment of doses from the state.

“We are extremely pleased that we were able to get 300 doses of the vaccine into our patients’ arms, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us that can only be accomplished through continued allocation of vaccine. It is our hope that steady allotments will begin in the near future so we can continue our vaccination efforts. We do ask for your patience at this time as the number of doses we receive could vary from week to week,” said Sellheim.

James Mangen, RN at SEMC and one of several vaccinators at Saturday’s event, said it was a highlight of his career.

“Helping at the vaccination clinic was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. Coming together with my coworkers, whom I also call friends, to do this thing to protect our community was a tremendous and emotional experience for me,” said Mangen.

Mangen further acknowledged the significance of this day for not only himself but also the community.

“It is not often that you get to do something you know will go down in history, even on a local level. I have never been more proud to be an RN, and I have never been more proud of my coworkers and community. Last Saturday, they all played a part in the beginning of the end to this pandemic.”

Dr. Harman Dhaliwal of SEMC attended Saturday’s event and echoed Mangen’s sentiments.

“It was very heartwarming to see our community come together as a team to take care of our elderly. The concept of working collectively is the reason our community has flourished,” said Dhaliwal.

Dhaliwal also stressed the important role the vaccine plays in the weeks and months to come.

“Vaccines in general – and this one in particular – is highly recommended by health experts,” explained Dhaliwal. “We are in a health care crisis like never before due to this pandemic, and vaccination plays a very big part in going back to our normal lives.”

With limited vaccine supply, SEMC recommends patients take the first opportunity they receive to get the vaccine.

“If you receive a call to schedule the vaccine, we recommend that you do not wait. Get registered, and then if you have any questions, call your primary care provider. We will be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns,” said Dhaliwal.

Although local vaccination efforts have merely begun, Sellheim assured the public that SEMC remains determined to continue until the job is complete.

“It is our goal to vaccinate every eligible individual who wishes to be vaccinated in the communities we serve. Our staff is committed to delivering on this goal, regardless of how long it takes. We learned a lot from our first clinic and have high expectations to deliver a similar experience at those that follow. This is a crucial step in not only gaining protection from COVID-19, but also returning to the lives we enjoyed prior to the pandemic,” said Sellheim.

Sleepy Eye Medical Center asks that patients who are 65 years of age and older wait to be contacted. The facility will continue to use a random system to select eligible patients and will notify you when you qualify for the vaccine. Once notified, you may proceed with scheduling your appointment. Future vaccine updates will be posted on SEMC’s COVID-19 Resource Hub, https://semedicalcenter.org/covid19resourcehub, and the SEMC Facebook page.