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ER doctor receives COVID-19 vaccine, puts PPE back on and gets back to work

"I feel so privileged to be one of the first to have this. I feel stronger," said Dr. Ben Usatch

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Dr. Ben Usatch has treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients as an emergency room doctor at a Highlands Ranch hospital since the pandemic and today he rolled up his sleeve for the vaccine that gives him protection against a virus that’s killed so many. 

As a doctor working in a year full of so much darkness, light is something we’ve all been searching for – it also Dr. Usatch gives him hope beyond the doors of the ER. 

"I got my vaccine this morning. A light at the end of the tunnel," said Usatch, the medical director for emergency department at UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital. "There are so many emotions with this. True confession, I didn’t really sleep great last night because I was just so pumped up about this."

On Thursday morning, Dr. Usatch woke up knowing this random day in December is the day he'd been waiting for since the first COVID-19 patient was admitted to his emergency room nine months ago.

>>Watch video above: First Colorado lawmaker to get COVID vaccine is also ER nurse. 

He said he didn’t even feel the shot go into his arm. He blames that on his adrenaline. What he did feel was a cocktail of emotions that can only come to life after seeing the sights Usatch lives through every day.

"There’s nothing more gut-wrenching to me than knowing that when I admit somebody and put them in the ICU, that they very well may not make it," said Usatch. 

"As I was sitting there getting that shot, I was just thinking to myself, you know what, I may get to see my elderly father and see him in a safe manner," said Usatch. "That’s just great." 

The vaccine brings with it a time to celebrate. Inside Dr. Usatch’s emergency room, there are signs this fight is far from over.

"When you and I are finished I’m going to put on my mask, put on my PPE and send that doctor that’s on duty today downstairs to get his shot," said Usatch. 

Off to treat more patients, this time knowing the future looks a little brighter.

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