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Permian Basin Hospital Gives Big Bend Vaccination Efforts A Shot In The Arm

Mitch Borden
Marfa Public Radio
Vaccines and syringes laid out at a mass vaccination clinic held by Midland Memorial Hospital.

Vaccine distribution in the Big Bend region is set to pick up speed next week when Midland Memorial Hospital offers two, one-day clinics, one in Fort Davis and one in Marfa. 

Hospitals in the Permian Basin have long promised to assist smaller, more rural communities, and now have the capacity to do so after the state increased vaccine shipments. The one-day inoculation clinics herald a major change for Big Bend area residents — until now, those seeking a vaccine have often had to travel hours to larger medical hubs in West Texas.

While local officials and volunteers will help with the one-day clinics, hospital staff from Midland will be on site to administer the vaccines and process vaccination paperwork required by the state. 

“We’ll send a team from here — our fire and EMS service, nurses from our hospital, volunteers from here who will work with local volunteers — to set up a mass vaccination effort [for] one day in Fort Davis,” said Midland Memorial’s CEO Russel Meyers. “They'll spend the night, they'll take the next day and do the same thing in Marfa and then they'll come home.”

According to hospital officials, vaccine doses at the two clinics are being reserved for people in the state’s priority groups — including those 65 years and older or anyone 16 and older with at least one chronic medical condition, like cancer, heart disease and type 2 Diabetes. 

The Fort Davis clinic will be held Monday, Feb. 8 at the fire department, and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a first-come-first-serve basis. Midland staff will have 400 doses to administer.

The vaccination clinic will be conducted in a similar manner to the county’s coronavirus testing, according to Jeff Davis County Clerk Sandra Chambers. Qualifying Big Bend residents will need to fill out two registration forms, which can be found at the county judge’s office, the library or downloaded from the county’s website.

Download and print vaccine registration forms | Form 1, Form 2

The Marfa vaccination clinic will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at the visitor’s center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be 500 doses on hand.

Staff with the Marfa Country Clinic are assisting with the vaccination clinic. Unlike the Fort Davis event, the Marfa event will require individuals to register for an appointment. To schedule a vaccination call the Marfa Country Clinic and staff will help qualifying residents fill out the required registration forms.

Call the Marfa Country Clinic to register | 432-729-3000

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara said the Marfa event will require volunteer help.

“We need to make a cohesive plan to see how we’re going to get everyone vaccinated, we’re really going to have to work together to get this virus under control,” said Guevara.

Guevara said she hopes single-day vaccination clinics like these can continue to happen throughout Far West Texas. 

But outside of upcoming events in Marfa and Fort Davis, it’s unclear if Midland Memorial will set up similar one-day clinics in Alpine and Presidio, which have both been hit hard by the pandemic

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Meyers told reporters the situations in Alpine and Presidio “are different.”

“There's a hospital in Alpine, and we have provided a large number of doses to the Big Bend Regional Medical Center, that they intend to manage themselves,” said Meyers.

Meyers said Preventative Care Health Services, which has clinics in Presidio, Marfa and Alpine, has also received doses from Midland Memorial.

“So we've got two different models,” said Meyers. “But both of them work.”

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.