‘The right thing to do’: Dokimos family and staff has worked consecutive 12- to 14-hour days to help immunize Nevada County
A shot of hope.
That’s what the owners and staff of Dokimos pharmacies have offered Nevada County residents.
“We knew we needed to step up and create a COVID-19 vaccine clinic,” said owner David Dokimos, “rather than wait for the large corporate drugstores to eventually begin taking vaccination appointments. We just needed to find a way to do it without losing a ton of money.”
David and Kelly Dokimos, with help from their daughter Jacque, opened western Nevada County’s first COVID-19 vaccine clinic for the public Jan. 28. They rented the former Ol’ Republic Brewery below the Dokimos Nevada City pharmacy. For the past three months, the three have logged long hours during the day at the clinic, and then worked late into the evening to keep their Grass Valley and Nevada City pharmacies up and running.
After a few grueling weeks, the Dokimos reached out to friends and trained them in clinic operations. The clinic, which vaccinates an average of 1,000 people per week, was on track to administer its 10,000th vaccine at the end of last week.
“In December, I approached the county and offered Dokimos as a vaccine partner,” said Jacque Dokimos. “There were a lot of logistics to work out, but we were determined.”
“Dokimos is an example of how we can all work together to heal this community,” said Nevada County Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann.
Kellermann remembers David Dokimos’ resolve.
“I asked, ‘Where will you immunize?’ and David said, ‘We’ll deal with that. Just get us the vaccine.’ I asked, ‘How will you staff it?’ and David replied again, ‘We’ll find a way. Please just get us the vaccine,’” said Kellermann.
Federal, state and county governments provide vaccines at no cost and Dokimos receives a weekly allotment. The clinic bills patients’ medical insurance and then receives about $22 for each shot administered, which helps defray the cost of renting the building and paying staff.
No one is turned away for lack of insurance.
Dr. Alan Cary, a retired anesthesiologist, volunteers at the clinic and administers vaccines.
“I tried to volunteer at the chain pharmacies, but there was too much red tape,” said Cary. “David and Kelly welcomed me immediately and it’s a pleasure to help make our county safe.”
Cary and others who administer shots even provide curbside service in the parking lot if a patient can’t or chooses not to walk into the clinic.
“We are user friendly,” smiled Cary.
Michael Westlake, a pharmacist at Dokimos, said providing vaccines to the community is almost like being a “first responder.”
“When the opportunity arose for Dokimos to become the area’s first COVID-19 vaccination provider, we welcomed the chance to be a sort of local ‘first responder’ within the battle that is this pandemic,” said Westlake. “We decided that despite the challenges of setting up our own vaccine clinic, we needed to start vaccinating our community members as soon as possible so that we could begin saving the lives of the customers, neighbors, friends, and family who are so important to us.”
It’s not uncommon for the Dokimos family and staff to work consecutive 12- to 14-hour days without a break.
“We’ve sacrificed time with our families to keep both pharmacies running and accommodate the additional workload created by the vaccine clinics,” Westlake continued. “Every one of us wants to go back to a community where people can dine out safely, return to in-class learning, attend social gatherings, and smile at each other’s fully ‘naked’ faces once again.”
The extra effort by the Dokimos family, staff, and volunteers is appreciated by Nevada County government officials.
“Dokimos has gone above and beyond to vaccinate our community,” said Nevada County CEO Alison Lehman. “As local small business owners, they have taken on vaccinating 1,000 residents per week to get us to the other side of this pandemic.”
“Jacque reached out to us, unsolicited, said they were on board, and they never looked back,” said Nevada County Public Health Director Jill Blake. “They have been responsive, planful, and a terrific partner, Because they are using the Pfizer vaccine, which requires ultra-low temperatures, we directed to Dokimos an ultra-cold freezer provided by the state.”
Nevada County residents who have received one or both of their vaccines at the Dokimos clinic appreciate the convenience.
“I think it’s wonderful that Dokimos has made such a commitment,” said Dorothy Litzaw after she received a vaccine. “It’s very business-like but pleasant. They’re very cheerful despite doing this all day long.”
William Aichinger said he gives the vaccine clinic an “A+” after receiving his shot.
“They’re not making money doing this,” said Aichinger. “They just care about people and they want us healthy.”
Douglas Chapman had a simple rhetorical question after receiving his second vaccine.
“Who but Dokimos would do this?” he asked. “It’s not going to happen by itself.”
Kelly Dokimos said she looks forward to when she, her family, and staff need only work their routine jobs at their pharmacies.
“We won’t close this clinic until everyone who wants the vaccine has received their shots,” she said. “This is our community, it is the right thing to do, and the best part is we enjoy it. Look at the smiles on the faces of all those being immunized.”
Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.
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