As a massive snowstorm in Texas devastated the state’s power grid and caused extended blackouts for millions, Houston Methodist Hospital doctors were desperate not to let coronavirus vaccine doses be ruined as icy conditions made it impossible for people to travel to their appointments.
Hospital internist Alan Hoffman had a plan, ABC News reported. What was the nearest large building that still has power, was open to the public, accessible by foot, and ready to open its doors to do a good deed?
Local shul United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston.
Hoffman quickly called Rabbi Barry Gelman, who began to send out emails and social media messages urging people to seize the opportunity.
“As soon as I put it out there, people started lining up, asking if they could volunteer,” Rabbi Gelman told ABC.
Hoffman took vials nearing their expirations dates from the hospital and carefully drove along icy roads to the shul.
Within two hours of the first call, Hoffman arrived to find a line out the door and volunteers setting up check-in, vaccination and monitoring areas, and community members who were medical professionals ready to inject. Community members collected medical information and protected the syringes.
“We’ve got many nurses in the community, many of whom are part of the frontline COVID vaccine delivery system,” said Ethan Ludmir, a local radiation oncologist. “We had them teach and model, and then had them lead the vaccinator teams.”
Over the day, the shul had distributed 550 doses to whoever could brave the weather, even as the shul itself lost power.
“It was a total team effort,” Rabbi Gelman said. “Everyone realized this was huge…. It’s not every day that you can say you spent three, four hours saving people’s lives.”