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Central, South Coast Counties Rally To Operate COVID-19 Testing, Vaccination Sites

(KCLU photo)
Ventura County's COVID-19 vaccination site at the Gobel Adult Community Center In Thousand Oaks is giving shots to more than 500 people a day.

It’s a big day for Joe Owen.  The 79-year-old Thousand Oaks man just got a COVID-19 vaccination.  Owen got his shot at the Gobel Adult Community Center in Thousand Oaks.  It’s been turned into an impromptu vaccination clinic.

Like cities and counties around the nation, Ventura County has been doing a lot of improvising during the pandemic.  It’s doing something which would have been unheard of for the county a year ago:  Operating more than a dozen improvised facilities, which are testing and vaccinating tens of thousands of people daily.

The county has drafted people from throughout its workforce to support the medical staff managing things like testing, and vaccinations.

Betsy Swanson-Hollanger oversees the Gobel Center facility.  She's normally a Human Resources manager with Ventura County.  She says they’ve had to do a lot of improvising, with ten to 12 hour days and scrambles.  Swanson-Hollanger says they’ve had to draft people from many parts of the county’s workforce to deal with things ranging from check-in for testing or vaccinations to traffic control.

Gustavo Fernandes is staffing one of the check-in desks at the Gobel site.  His day job is working at the help desk for Ventura County’s Human Services Agency, so he’s used to helping the public.  Here though, he’s helping people line up their second shots.

Those running the clinics face an extra challenge.  Not only are they facing the nuts and bolts operational issues like having enough staff, and supplies,  they often find themselves dealing with some very anxious people worried about whether they have COVID-19, or nervous about getting a shot.

It sometimes means turning away people who show up but aren’t eligible for vaccinations yet.

So, if you go to one of the county’s test or vaccination sites, you may find it’s someone from the public works department, or county planning, or parks that’s helping to get you through the process.  But, nearly a year into the process, the agencies in the region for the most part have things running smoothly enough that you might assume the people helping you do it for a living. 

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.