Karisa Deitch

A Lifestyle of Passion and Dedication

As a registered nurse with the state Department of Health, Unit 9 member Karisa Deitch has been on the frontlines of the pandemic. And since the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines in December 2020, she is one of many healthcare workers performing the very essential service of vaccinating people in the fight to end the pandemic.

“The vaccine pod (point of dispensing) has been very successful and has given us the opportunity to vaccinate thousands of frontline/essential workers, our kupuna, our medically fragile population, as well as many others,” said Deitch, who is part of the pod at Windward Community College. “I’m really pleased with how DOH has organized the pods. It’s been a relatively smooth process.”

The nurses are very versatile to the pod, Deitch added, being responsible not only with preparing the vaccines and vaccinating the individuals but also assisting with the screening process and observation area as well as providing education on the vaccine and multiple resources for more information.

“This opportunity wouldn’t be possible without the hard work, dedication and collaboration from our DOH Behavioral Health Administration team, HGEA Unit 9 nurses, Local 5 union members, our partner Project Vision, and the many wonderful volunteers who show up every day to help with admin support and nursing duties and our medical staff to ensure safe and efficient operation,” Deitch said.

Believing in their mission to serve, she also volunteers with Project Vision, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve access to healthcare for people of Hawaii and protect those who are medically vulnerable. To help contain the spread of the coronavirus in our communities, Deitch serves alongside them and vaccinates homeless and underserved individuals on the west side of Oahu, U.S. veterans and those in transitional shelters. “Project Vision is a huge contribution to our success at the pod. It’s been exciting to work with them,” she said. “It involves long days but the benefit of knowing you are a part of something bigger than yourself makes it more than worth the while.”

Working with the vaccine pod is voluntary for the nurses. As a nurse with DOH Adult Mental Health Division Central Leeward Oahu Treatment Services Section, Deitch still manages to complete her day-to-day tasks back at her home clinic in Pearl City, in addition to the Wahiawa clinic that became an extra workload for her with the retirement of two nurses. She continues to work with her team of psychiatrists, therapists, social workers and other staff to provide the best possible care to their patients, which involves face-to-face and telehealth visits. She also facilitates a wellness class at an outpatient psychiatric clinic every week.

Deitch’s passion for her job is evident from the time and commitment she puts in not just at DOH but with the hours she puts in outside of work in the communities. “Being a passionate, dedicated nurse is a lifestyle,” she said. “We live to serve and heal humanity in times just like this.”