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St. Luke’s COVID vaccinator, retired several times, returns to help immunize the community

When Sam Miranda was a first-year nursing student at Sacred Heart Hospital back in the mid-’70s, an instructor told his class, “Before you retire, you all will be involved in a pandemic.”

“We laughed, and thought she was crazy,” Miranda said. “Because of penicillin and all the other advances in medical science at that time, we naively thought a pandemic seemed unlikely.”

Now nearly a half century later, the 64-year-old nurse from Center Valley is hard at work giving hundreds of COVID vaccine injections each day at St. Luke’s Allentown campus, doing his part to immunize people against the virus that has taken the lives of some 400,000 Americans to date and millions world-wide.

He’s also teaching MSN/MBA students at De Sales University, helping prepare the workforce of the future.

From the bedside to the board room to the classroom, this long-time nurse leader and health care executive lives and loves his vocation. Miranda has retired from it several times, but only for a few months until there’s another challenge that inspires him back into service.

Shortly after he left Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network in 2018 after 12 years as their chief clinical officer, they asked him to come back to run the organization when their president suddenly departed. He stayed for six months, then left to help take care of his now-three-year-old granddaughter, Claire Christina, whom he calls, “my angel.”

When his daughter-in-law, a teacher, went “back to school” online, Miranda was needed less at home, and so he looked for other ways to help, this time at SLUHN with whom has had a decades-long connection. That was in April 2020, as the pandemic raged.

“I told Bill Moyer (president of St. Luke’s Allentown), whatever I can do, I want to help,” Miranda says, who knows Moyer from the board of trustees of Cedar Crest College on which they both serve.

“I’m so impressed with Bill’s leadership style and how St. Luke’s fulfills its mission of taking care of the community,” Miranda said.

A few per diem assignments led to nursing supervisory roles for Miranda as the hospital struggled to save patients from the ruthless coronavirus.

Fast-forward to last December when COVID vaccines were approved in the U.S., and Miranda stepped forward for his next assignment. Since then, he has been spending sometimes 12 hours a day giving injections of the vaccine, working longer hours than he ever imagined as he cruised into retirement.

But he has no regrets. “It’s the right thing to do,” he says, “for the community and for St. Luke’s.”

And there’s a personal reason for his motivation. He also does it in memory of a relative who died of the virus on Christmas Day.

Having given 2,400 COVID shots and counting, Miranda will likely again blend being a grandad for his “angel” with new challenges at SLUHN when this pandemic is vanquished.

He’ll continue training the future nurses who will replace him and his aging generation.

He promises his students that today’s health care system is headed for other major changes that they’ll have to face during their professional lives. He’s seen a few of them in his 48 years in the industry.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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