Two local Physician Assistants in the Air National Guard are on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Lt. Col. Jeff Chambers and Major John Campbell are gearing up for deployment to run multiple vaccination sites across Alabama, a six-month long effort to vaccinate rural populations in the state.
“It’s a time where all hands are on deck to try to get out of this pandemic,” said Chambers.
Chambers, owner of Oconee Urgent Care in Madison and Watkinsville, and Campbell, a PA who began working with Oconee Urgent Care in 2017, have played a pivotal role is securing and administering COVID-19 tests and COVID-19 vaccines for patients in Morgan and Oconee counties. Since December, both locations of Oconee Urgent Care have administered approximately 2,400 COVID-19 vaccines. Now, their expertise is being sought out by the Air National Guard to help other communities vaccinate the population.
“John and Jeff are deploying two-to-three weeks at a time over the next six months to run vaccine sites,” said Ivy Campbell, communications director for Oconee Urgent Care. “The Air National guard is going county to county to vaccine to anyone who wishes to receive one.”
“The groups that are the most vulnerable are the groups that live in the rural south, as far as people with comorbidities, and many do not have the means to get vaccinated. We are trying to hit those groups that have bad outcomes if they do get sick. The only way to decrease the hospitalization rates is to get the people who are vulnerable vaccinated,” explained Chambers.
Both Chambers and Campbell are members of the 187th Alabama Air National Guard, trained in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives (CBRNE). Chambers is a Lieutenant Colonel and Campbell is a Major in the Air National Guard.
Chambers, PA-C (Physician Assistant-Certified) and Dr. Harry Wingate opened Urgent Care of Oconee in September 2016 and expanded to Madison in September of 2018. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, Chambers wasted no time in securing testing kits and supplies.
“We were among the first to start testing in the area,” said Ivy Campbell. “Jeff was on the phone all day making sure we got tests as soon as possible and began testing in early March of 2020.”
When vaccines were approved for use in December, Jeff once again hopped on the phone, spending hours to track down vaccines to administer to the local community. Staff at both locations of Oconee Urgent Care were committed to continuing medical care for patients throughout the pandemic.
“The fact that the Urgent Care of Oconee stayed open with the onset of the pandemic and never closed its doors to the community speaks to how highly we believe in providing the care that is needed to our community,” said Ivy Campbell. “Every employee stepped up and worked the extra hours and did the hard work to provide a safe environment.”
Chambers and Campbell will embark on their new mission over the next six months to help vaccinate the population in other communities across Alabama.
To find out more about the Madison branch of Oconee Urgent Care, located next to Harbor Freight, call (706) 343-4043 or visit www.urgentcareofoconee.com.