Weekly Tips & Insights

Kathryn Porterfield, RN Volunteers to Advance Community Health During COVID-19

Updated: Apr 23

Kathryn Porterfield, RN has a passion for serving the community through healthcare. Community health has been a priority for her since attending Yale University, where she received a Master’s Degree in Nursing with a focus on community health. Through her education and training, she possesses an incredible ability to respond to people’s most urgent needs. She began volunteering when the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis (VNA) started giving Covid vaccinations, and her skills were essential to VNA to help administer COVID-19 vaccines to the St. Louis community


Kathryn didn’t come to nursing the conventional way. She attended a four-year liberal arts college and graduated with a degree in psychology. After working in the mental health field, she decided to go back to school for nursing. There were few programs for non-nursing college graduates to enter a program at the Master’s level, but she applied and was accepted into a three-year program at Yale’s Graduate School of Nursing. After graduating, she immediately began working as a family nurse practitioner. She practiced as a nurse until she retired in 2013 because her family relocated to St. Louis.


In retirement, she desired to find opportunities that put her skills to use without having to find a full-time job. She maintained her RN license and sought volunteer positions that supported a community health mission. After her daughter delivered her first child, she decided it would be of great benefit to the St. Louis community if she helped new mothers. She volunteered for Nurses for Newborns, a charitable organization that sends nurses and community health workers into the homes of high-risk pregnant women and high-risk postpartum women.


She volunteered for three years before entering a “second retirement” to take care of her elderly mother and spend time with her grandchildren. Then the pandemic hit, and she knew she had the skills and determination to help out in some way. She searched for volunteer opportunities, and her friend recommended she check out VNA.


At VNA, Kathryn helps administer vaccinations, and she’s been in awe of how the team has made care and vaccinations accessible during a challenging time.


Kathryn is a self-described extrovert, and she loves the camaraderie that forms between the nurses. She also likes socializing with the patients. “We’re doing this as a part-time job while raising families,” says Kathryn. “So, there’s a camaraderie when seeing the same group of people each time… And this benefits me as much as it benefits the person getting the vaccine. I come out feeling like my mind is a little bit alive again, and it’s incidental that I happen to be vaccinating and helping the pandemic roll to an end.”


Kathryn is thankful for the opportunity to serve her community (and get out of the house), and VNA is thankful for the time and talent she has invested in helping to protect our St. Louis community.


For more information on how you can sign up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, visit our website.


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