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81-year-old nurse comes out of retirement to give COVID-19 vaccinations

She hadn't given a shot in a long time but says it's like riding a bike
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Posted at 10:27 AM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 14:38:57-04

LANSING, Mich. — An 81-year-old nurse has come out of retirement to help administer COVID-19 vaccines in Lansing, Michigan.

Hundreds of people drive through Sparrow Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic each week. It wouldn’t be possible without the many volunteers who step up and donate their time to give the shots, volunteers like Pat Munshaw.

Pat says it’s just one way she can give back.

“I tell people I'm the best vaccinator in the house," Pat said. "Now, when I tell them that, it’s between me and them, but they feel more comfortable when I say that to them.”

Since March, Pat has volunteered three days a week at both Sparrow Hospital and the Ingham County Health Department, spending her time doing what she says she has always been passionate about.

After graduating from nursing school at Marquette University, Pat worked as a registered nurse for a few years at Lansing’s St. Lawrence Hospital before being recruited to become a nurse instructor. She then went on to get a master's degree in health care administration.

Pat Munshaw prepares to administer another vaccine.
Pat Munshaw prepares to administer another vaccine.

Pat says when she started volunteering this past March, she hadn’t given a shot in a very long time.

“The first time I worked with the Ingham County Health Department, I said, 'I have not given a shot in 55 years, but I said I feel comfortable. I used to teach them how to do this,'" Pat said. "I said, 'It's like riding a bike.' I said, 'This is not brain surgery. I can do this.' But she did stand behind me to watch when I did the first ones.”

Lisa Denman is the Sparrow Vaccine Clinic Supervisor and says Pat is amazing.

“It's hard to get volunteers in here and Pat is here several times a week helping us," Denman said. "That’s huge for our community and the neighborhood, and it is extremely important. We need as many volunteers as we can get, especially with the booster vaccine. We're giving out more vaccines now. We really need everybody's help and she stepped up and has shown everybody how to do it.”

Sue Wagner is also a volunteer who often works alongside Pat. Sue says Pat is an inspiration.

“She is somebody who volunteers; I can't even count the number of boards she's on. And so, you know, it's really good that she's being recognized because she really gives a lot to the community," Wagner said.

Bob Hoffman and Pat Munshaw pose for a photo at the clinic.
Bob Hoffman and Pat Munshaw pose for a photo at the clinic.

“We need to tell this story because it encourages other people to volunteer," said Robert Kolt, chair of the Michigan Community Service Commission. "It's valuable, it's a good investment to the community, communities really fly with this strategy of volunteerism to solve problems. We've got a labor shortage, if we didn't have Pat Munshaw, we would not be able to do as much as we have.”

Pat says she enjoys volunteering and is trying to recruit other retirees to help out, too.

“I just talked to a retired nurse today, and I said, 'You should be doing this as well,'" Pat said. "And so they said that they would contact Sparrow and do it. I mean, it is a wonderful, rewarding thing to do. I mean as long as you are healthy and fit. Age is just a number, isn’t it?”

This story was originally published by Bob Hoffman and Adam Fakult at WSYM.