Newswise — The COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Rush University Medical Center can vaccinate up to 2,000 people a day. Each one of them needs a band-aid to cover the spot where they receive their shot, and the wrapper for each of those bandages needs to be opened.

A 7-year-old patient at Rush University Children’s Hospital named Kashton has been helping get those band-aids ready, alongside one of his nurses. Together, they’ve opened hundreds of band-aids since February.

“Having those opened band-aids really changes the ability to move patients in and out of the vaccine clinic quickly and efficiently,” explains Liz Casseday, RN, the assistant unit director in the Children’s Hospital. “If it takes 10 seconds to open, and we are vaccinating 1800 people a day, that’s 300 minutes, or five hours of band-aid opening per day.”

After a few shifts volunteering in the vaccine clinic, it was apparent to Casseday that opening band-aids was a non-technical but very important part of the efficiency of the vaccination process. She started to open them for the clinic whenever she could and soon found a special helper in Kashton.

Kashton had been in the hospital for an extended stay, and though he was feeling well, his treatment still required him to be hospitalized. Seeing that Kashton was bored and on his iPad a lot, Casseday asked him if he wanted to help open band-aids for the clinic. 

“I approached Kashton to sit and help me open band-aids to get him away from the screen for a while, and he enthusiastically jumped in to help,” Casseday remembers . 

The duo peel open the original packaging while keeping the backs on the band-aid itself to ensure sanitation and safety for those receiving the adhesive covering. After each band-aid is properly opened, they place it into a container to be sent to the clinic.

Kashton has been helping as much as he can and is making a real difference for Rush vaccinators. He and Casseday even made the process fun by having “band-aid races” to see who can open a band-aid the quickest. Kashton has remained the band-aid race champion. 

With band-aids already open and ready, Rush vaccinators can move quickly through each inoculation, making the process easier and more efficient for everyone involved. 

Kashton and Casseday are great examples of how every volunteer can make a difference. Volunteers provide approximately 70% of the work at the clinic, and no matter how small the job may seem, each task they perform is important in the fight to protect the community from COVID-19. From manning the check-in desk to vaccinating patients to opening band-aids, each volunteer makes the vaccine clinic possible. 

“Making the various versions of the Rush vaccine clinics work takes all kinds of volunteers. Age and education do not need to be a barrier to help out,” Casseday says. “There is a job for everyone, even opening band aids.”