The small team of staff and volunteers who keep The Nature Conservancy’s research facility at Palmyra Atoll operating received their COVID-19 booster vaccinations last month, thanks to The Queen’s Medical Center’s Director of Vaccination Clinics Mary Bedell.
Acting quickly to fill a rare open seat on a research flight, Bedell travelled to the atoll, which is located about 1,000 miles southwest of Hawai‘i, administered COVID-19 booster vaccinations to six workers, and was on the airplane headed back to Hawai‘i by late afternoon the same day.
“It was an honor and a privilege being able to visit Palmyra Atoll,” says Mary Bedell, APRN-Rx, Director of Vaccination Clinics at The Queen’s Medical Center. “The researchers on the atoll are performing critical work to ensure the survivability of the earth’s fragile ecosystems and Queen’s was extremely pleased to be able to assist in providing vaccinations to help keep the group safe. This was a great example of how Queen’s is extending its reach to support our neighbors in the Pacific region.”
Palmyra’s current crew arrived in early December for a 3-month stint at TNC’s laboratory, located within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Strict COVID-19 safety protocols are followed for all travelers to the atoll, with staff and researchers rotating in regularly.
“Our top priority is keeping our team members safe while they conduct our essential conservation work, both here in Hawai‘i and at Palmyra Atoll,” says Ulalia Woodside, Executive Director, TNC Hawai‘i and Palmyra. “We are grateful to Mary and The Queen’s Medical Center for supporting that purpose.”
Palmyra Atoll is part of the USFWS Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, the largest collection of ocean and islands protected under a single jurisdiction in the world. Despite environmental impacts from commercial ventures and infrastructure changes made to accommodate military activities during World Word II, Palmyra’s ecosystems bounce back rapidly from climate impacts such as warming waters and coral bleaching. TNC and partners are restoring the tropical rainforest across the atoll and studying the factors that enable this spectacular wilderness to thrive in the face of climate change so lessons can be shared to help island ecosystems elsewhere.