LIBERTY — Liberty Hospital pharmacy director Amy Benson knew the hospital would be receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines sooner than later. A month ago, she obtained an ultra-cold freezer in anticipation of the vaccine arrival. She wanted nothing to hinder the process.

“It’s very exciting for us and exciting for our community,” she said. “The first task is to vaccinate our patient-facing health care workers.”

For Elizabeth D’Arcy, a joke from her supervisor led her to be the first vaccinated at the hospital.

“I was semi-joking that I should be put down for the first in line,” she said. “Last evening, I was looking at the Christmas star and knew something good would be here. This is our way to start protecting the community. As health care workers, we are stepping up and are willing to do this. Hopefully this can save millions of lives. We can come together to protect each other.”

D’Arcy is an intensive care unit nurse. She has been with the hospital coming up on five years. Originally from Chicago, she came to William Jewell College and has never left.

“I’m seeing COVID as a defeating disease,” he said. “The virus is hard. It’s hard to save people; the way it attacks the body … Most days, I have at least two COVID patients per shift. It’s a lonely disease too.”

D’Arcy calls last Friday one of her worst days as a nurse.

“Treating patients, I am trying to help families who want information about their loved ones, but they can’t come down,” she said. “We are strangers, but families trust us with their loved ones. We become like family to them. We are fortunate when the littlest victories happen. They are amazing.”

While the cards seem stacked in COVID’s favor, D’Arcy said the nurses and physicians are working hard.

“Those we lose affect all of us,” she said. “We are all hurting. I can tell you that we have patients in their late 20s. There are people here with no co-morbidities. It’s frustrating to counter the misinformation. I wish some of them could spend one day here.”

The vaccine for D’Arcy also marks one of her better days in nursing.

“I am grateful to receive this,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine my grandmother getting this. That’s the way we have to think. It’s about our loved ones, especially those who are vulnerable.”

In early 2021, D’Arcy will take the second injection of the two-part vaccination.

“2020 has taught me to be humble, to be thankful for my health and the health of my loved ones,” she said. “It’s the little things that matter.”

The first physician to take the vaccination was Dr. Nicholas Warren, an emergency room doctor. He’s been with the hospital for more than two years.

“It’s my day off,” he said, chuckling. “This is incredible. I’ve very excited. We still need to protect ourselves, but this is a level of protection as a front-line worker, that will make a difference.”

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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