Calais, Maine – Abby Gibbs, a May 2020 Medical Assisting graduate of Washington County Community College, started her career during a historic time. She has been administering COVID 19 Vaccines at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor.
Gibbs, 22, said this week that while attending WCCC and living in Baileyville, she was prepared for the pandemic. “Luckily, it started while I was still in clinical,’’ she said. “Our instructor, Nickey Dubey, made sure we knew about PPE [personal protective equipment], proper procedures for safety and we were really prepared.” While doing her clinical rotation last year at Down East Community Hospital in Machias, Gibbs administered many vaccines and handled Washington County’s first active case of COVID 19.
But Gibbs said nothing could prepare her for the dramatic upturn in cases and the statewide increase of COVID cases once she was hired at St. Joseph’s. “Machias and Bangor are very different,’’ she said. She said that despite her expectations and high-quality training, she feels she is part of a historical moment.
“When you stop and breathe and take a moment to reflect, it can be almost overwhelming,” she said.
Gibbs said her current position has her floating between the offices of all specialty practices at the hospital, handling many, many calls from folks seeking the vaccine. “They ask when it will be their turn and I wish I had an answer,” Gibbs said. “The patients are mostly afraid of spreading it to others and less afraid for themselves.” Stories of grandparents who cannot see their children, families who have been apart for months and depression due to isolation tear at her heart.
Gibbs even worked Christmas Eve, providing vaccinations to St. Joseph’s medical personnel. “I’ve not seen a single negative reaction,” she added.
But despite such an extreme time for health care workers, Gibbs said she was taught well at WCCC and wouldn’t be anywhere else than St. Joseph’s.
“St. Joe’s is a very special place to work,” she said. “They really value their employees and appreciate us.”