CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Chester resident Nancy Potterfield has now lived through two pandemics thanks to the efforts of Chesterfield Fire & EMS and their Bed Bound Program.
Lt. David Bigelow leads three firefighters and a peer-support specialist through the county’s Mobile Integrated Healthcare (MIH) unit. The team brings medical support and services to those who are unable to leave their homes.
Bigelow and Firefighter Melissa Ahern traveled to Potterfield’s home in Chester on Thursday morning to deliver a lifeline -- her second and final dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
At 102-years-old, the great-grandmother spends some of her day in a medical bed in front of a television in her living room.
“They still have people coming into their home whether it’s caregivers or families,” Lt. Bigelow explained. “There is still that need for connection and to be able to go out to them and vaccinate them without them having to go to a vaccination site.”
Potterfield was born on May 31, 1918. That’s the same year the H1N1 virus infected a third of the population.
More than a century later, the Washington Nationals baseball fan is now fully vaccinated against the highly contagious coronavirus.
“We haven’t been at the table altogether since February of 2020,” said her daughter, Anna Moore. “We will celebrate her birthday around the table. We will celebrate Easter together.”
Some of the patients who are homebound were familiar faces and are already being assisted through the MIH unit. They are patients who frequently dial 911.
“There are a lot of people that just don’t have anywhere else to turn so they use the 911 system whether its COVID-19 related or the increase in opioids and addiction we’ve seen as people are isolated and trying to deal with that,” Lt. Bigelow described.
The first responders also connect their patients with social services, mental health services or just a listening ear.
“Just being able to be a resource for them, to go out there and find out what their needs are that go beyond what can be met by just transporting somebody to an emergency room," Lt. Bigelow said.
The crew also stopped at Sarah Miller’s home on Watchhaven Lane with her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“You see all of these people dying and I don’t want to be a statistic,” Miller stated.
Miller survived a rare type of cancer through strenuous chemo and radiation treatments, but now requires a wheelchair to get around. To be transported to a vaccination site would require days of planning and appointment scheduling with a bus driver through Medicare.
Then, there’s the chance she could contract the disease while out in public.
Miller said she got vaccinated for her nine-year-old twin boys Ian and Colin.
“I didn’t want them to get scared when it comes around for them to get vaccinated.”
She can now focus on her love of art and her family.
“This program opens up the possibilities for them to be able to reconnect with family and resume hopefully some semblance of a normal life,” Bigelow stated.
Anyone in Chesterfield County who medically or physically are unable to visit a vaccine site can sign up to get vaccinated at home should email bedboundvax@Chesterfield.gov or call 804-387-0366.