A Fayetteville financial services firm organized an event on May 18 at Fayetteville Town Center to recognize a group of retired and active nurses who volunteered to help pharmacists meet the high demand for administering COVID-19 vaccines.
Prewitt Mahler Tucker Private Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors sponsored the event to honor “Nurses Crushing Covid.” Lori Mahler, a retired nurse and University of Arkansas alumna, helped form the group. According to a UA news release, Mahler felt helpless as the COVID pandemic raged across Northwest Arkansas. She finally got the chance to put her skills to work when local pharmacies started receiving vaccines in January.
The pharmacies bought refrigerators and readied their stores to receive the vaccines, but pharmacists couldn’t keep up with demand.
Mahler reached out to a few retired nurse friends who also wanted to help get shots into arms, and they offered their services. Soon, Mahler was deploying over 100 active and retired nurses and several doctors to pharmacies and vaccine clinics across the region.
The volunteer group included several other UA Eleanor Mann School of Nursing faculty and alumni. They have been administering thousands of vaccine doses to area residents over the past five months.
According to the release, Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan proclaimed May 18 as “COVID-19 Vaccine Volunteer Day” in a pre-recorded message that organizers played at the event. He noted that residents had many options for getting vaccinated, thanks partly to the “Nurses Crushing COVID” group’s willingness to assist seven days a week in various clinics and scenarios.
Marti Sharkey, a local pediatrician and Fayetteville’s health officer, was among those who volunteered with the group. Speakers also included Brenna Neumann from Collier Drug Stores and Julie Stewart from Medical Arts Pharmacy. The two said they could not have handled the rush of people who wanted the vaccine without the help of Mahler’s volunteer group.
Mahler addressed the crowd with awe in her voice, praising her fellow volunteers and pharmacies for “not wasting one dose.”
She also thanked her son, Max Mahler of Prewitt Mahler Tucker, who organized the Fayetteville Town Center event.
“There is no better feeling than knowing your kids are proud of you,” she said.
According to the release, Lori Mahler also handed out awards to volunteers, including Jacki Tighe, who had administered 2,403 vaccines as of that day, and the nurse who didn’t let a fractured foot keep her from stepping up to help.
Prewitt Mahler Tucker and the Wells Fargo Foundation also made a surprise announcement of a $15,000 scholarship to the UA Nursing School.
Edward Prewitt pointed to the crucial role nurses have played during the pandemic and said his organization wanted to invest in the next generation.
Susan Patton, chair of the nursing school, expressed her gratitude for the scholarship in a short speech following the announcement.