La Crosse Gundersen doctor ‘grateful’ to leadoff staff COVID-19 vaccinations

Gundersen Health System joins Mayo Clinic Health System to begin staff vaccinations for COVID-19
La Crosse Gundersen Doctor ‘grateful’ To Leadoff Staff Covid 19 Vaccinations

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services reported 120 new deaths Tuesday, the most single-day deaths since the pandemic began. However, the path out of the pandemic begins in La Crosse this week. A COVID-19 vaccine was received by healthcare workers at Gundersen Health System Tuesday.

“I am just incredibly grateful for this moment, this day,” Dr. Elizabeth Cogbill of Gundersen Health System.

The finish line to this exhausting race cannot be seen without the start of its solution.

“This is the shot of hope after months and months of walking this journey,” Cogbill said, who leads Gundersen’s long term care team.

This shot is the result of sleepless nights and unrealistic deadlines fulfilled by committed scientists around the world.

“There’s great science behind this,” Dr. Scott Rathgaber, CEO of Gundersen Health System. “No corners were cut in order to develop this vaccine.”

These first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are going to those who have seen the depths of this pandemic valley. Cogbill sees the worst impact this virus has on the community.

“People aren’t able to view first hand how this disease really spreads through a facility, and how it truly causes severe disease and death in older adults,” Cogbill said.

Cogbill was there when people died and when families lost their loved ones. She is still there for those fighting for their lives. She is the first person at Gundersen to take this vaccine dose that means more to her than protection.

“My nine-year-old said, ‘Mom you’re gonna get the vaccine today,'” Cogbill said.

This day means a lot to those who have experienced COVID-19 at its core.

“Tears of joy welling up understanding the sacrifice and the dedication that our staff has gone through over the past many months,” Rathgaber said.

Tuesday was a moment propelling the community toward a greater goal.

“This is our path out of the pandemic,” Rathgaber said.

A checkered flag the community can see, but it all starts with one person.

“Yeah, it’s a good day,” Cogbill said.

Rathgaber said it’s not the time to stop following health guidelines (handwashing, wearing masks, social distancing). He said if people stop following guidelines before more people can be vaccinated, it will undo all the progress the community has made.

Gundersen officials say once healthcare workers, who deal with COVID-19 patients regularly, receive their vaccine, more staff will have their chance as well. Officials say the vaccine has arrived at all six critical care locations in the tri-state area.