When registered pharmacist and business owner Jennifer Palazzolo found out last month that her Flatirons Family Pharmacy was getting a somewhat unexpected delivery of 750 COVID-19 vaccinations, Palazzolo needed to find space fast to administer the doses.
The Longmont pharmacy has been vaccinating 60 to 120 people per day carside. But the roughly 2,000-square-foot building didn’t have the space for a vaccine clinic that could administer more than 700 doses.
“I posted on Facebook that I needed volunteers and help with space to give at least 700 doses of Pfizer that showed up kind of unexpectedly, and we had to use them in a very fast amount of time,” Palazzolo said.
Dr. Lou Cavallo, owner of Cavallo Chiropractic and member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, heard about the situation and passed the information along to his fellow lodge members. They decided to answer the call.
Outside the roughly 13,000-square-foot lodge building at 434 Main St. on Saturday, dozens of mask-clad people stood in line waiting to receive their second COVID-19 vaccination. Inside was a bustle of 15 to 20 Odd Fellows volunteers, directing people to chairs, where someone would swipe one of their arms with an alcohol wipe and administer the shot.
It’s not the first time the lodge has played an important role in helping to end a public health crisis.
The lodge in 1918 served as a makeshift emergency hospital during the influenza pandemic.
Longmont Museum Curator of History Erik Mason mentioned the charity organization’s role in a column he wrote for the Times-Call on the 1918 pandemic in Longmont.
“Longmont had two small hospitals — the Longmont Hospital at Fourth and Coffman, built 10 years earlier as a hospital; and the St. Vrain Hospital, a converted house at 320 Bross St.,” Mason wrote. “They were both overwhelmed. The Odd Fellows Lodge on Main Street was pressed into service as an emergency hospital.”
After getting their shots Saturday, people sat in a room for a 15-minute waiting period. Conor O’Hanlon, an Odd Fellows member, said that in that very space in 1918, mask-clad nurses in white would have been bustling from hospital bed to hospital bed.
O’Hanlon said in nonpandemic years the charity organization typically hosts a number of fundraisers to help local causes.
“We do a lot of good work with the building, but by far, I think this is the best use of the building since 1918,” O’Hanlon said. “This is an actual need in the community right now.”
The Longmont Odd Fellows organized in 1877, with their then-new Main Street building opening in 1908 to accommodate the growing operation. Today, O’Hanlon said it has about 60 members. Through the clinic, Palazzolo learned about the lodge’s historical connection to the 1918 pandemic.
“It just makes the partnership that much more cool,” Palazzolo said. “We could not have done this without them. They’ve been the most incredible and generous group of people that I have ever encountered.”
Suzanne Guidry sat in the waiting room Saturday after getting her second shot. Her eyes brimmed with happy tears when she reflected on the significance of the moment.
“I’m so happy,” she said. “I feel like I got over a huge hump. My niece is friends with the owner’s daughter. She told her mom to call me when she heard about (the clinic). It just means I can breathe. It’s been such a specter hanging over my head.”
Just a few chairs down, Adam Kilmer, of Westminster, said he and his wife, who was fully vaccinated earlier, were already making plans.
“We’re going to see the zoo,” Kilmer said. “It’s very nice knowing we can be out and about without putting other people at risk.”
For Cavallo, seeing people’s reactions after getting their vaccine has been a reminder of the history unfolding, once again, within the building’s walls.
“A lot of people are crying or dancing with joy — that’s always cool,” he said. “I’ve heard the pharmacy say this too, that the more we get people vaccinated, the more we can almost go back to normal one of these days.”
The pharmacy and charity organization will host another clinic at the location Saturday, May 1. Palazzolo said that starting at 8 a.m. Sunday she will open online registration for the next available clinic. People can check out appointment availability at www.flatironsrx.com.