Vergie Hart says the good Lord and her four children convinced her to line up for the COVID-19 vaccine. Novant Health’s Mel McMillan did the rest.
McMillan, a licensed practical nurse, is administrator at three clinics – Novant Health Parkside Family Medicine in Jamestown, Novant Health Northwest Family Medicine in Oak Ridge and Highland Avenue Primary Care in Winston-Salem. She’s been part of the team effort to vaccinate people, including March 10 at a pop-up event at St. Peter’s Church & World Outreach Center in Winston-Salem. Keep this in mind as the story unfolds: McMillan, 56, grew up in a church-going family. Everyone sang or played an instrument. Her grandfather, Baxter, “He could make a piano talk,” she said.
Now back to the vaccine clinic.
Vergie Hart, 68, knew she needed to be vaccinated after talking with God and her kids. Then she saw a TV news story about COVID-19 and got a good look at those needles. Those long needles, at least in her eyes. The next day at the pop-up site, her nervousness was obvious to everyone at the registration table, and to the nurse about to give Hart her first vaccine – McMillan. “I told her things on TV look a little bigger,” McMillan said. “She was shaking. I said, ‘We’re going to get through this together.’”
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That’s when nurse and patient shared a moment surely unlike any other at a vaccine site. “I just opened up my mouth and I started singing,” McMillan said. “I didn’t plan on it.” As she administered the vaccine to Hart, McMillan began to sing the words from an old hymn, “We will rejoice and be glad in it and be glad in it. This is the day that the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it….”
Within seconds, McMillan said the magic words to Hart: “All done.” But she wasn’t done. Moved by the moment, the two women took each other’s hands and together sang their own finale, “This is the day, this is the day that the Lord hath made.”
Hart said McMillan was supposed to count 1-2-3, then start singing, then give her the vaccine. “She skipped the 1-2-3. She started singing. She made me feel so calm and at ease.”
The moment endures for both women.
McMillan says she has sung for many nervous patients and hard-working team members. Most times it’s hymns, though she’s also belted out “You Are My Sunshine” and “We Are Family” if she feels those classics will get the job done.
Latisha Glenn, who is McMillan’s team leader, said McMillan is the go-to person to bring comfort to any situation. When Glenn’s mother-in-law passed away, McMillan sang “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” at the service.
“I want to use my voice,” she said. “You wonder in life, ‘What was I called to do?’ I feel this is my divine duty.”
Hart is due to get her second vaccine on March 31.
“I won’t be afraid,” she said. “This time I’m going to walk in there like a soldier. Still, she added, “I’m going to ask for Mel.”