HELENA -- Dec. 16 was a historic day for a few St. Peter’s Health Regional Medical Center employees, as they got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Julie Petre was the first person to get their first dose, but back in the day it wasn’t Julie Petre; it was Downtown Julie Brown.
The 1992 Gatorade player of the year at Helena High School and a member of the Montana State Bobcats women’s basketball team from 1993-97, Brown the basketball player is now Julie Petre, a front-line worker fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, a mother and a coach. She noted this year has been difficult in all aspects, especially for sports.
“It's been kind of a bummer through the pandemic that they're not able to play," she said. "The only one that's able to play currently is my high schooler. So, I would say I'm pretty connected to sports and played a huge role in my life and just all the lessons that I learned from sports, so I think it's really important for me to provide that for my kids. “
And even though she may not be on the court playing competitively, the sports mindset is a hard one to break.
“I think I kind of equate medicine to being on one big team," Petre said. "And we all have to sort of do our part.”
According to a Pew Research Center survey in November, 60% of Americans said they would probably or definitely get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them, 39% said they probably or definitely would not.
For Petre, the vaccine is a signal of hope after many days on the front lines and seeing the toll that COVID-19 can have on a person.
“You really want those people to get well, and that doesn't always happen with this disease," she said. "And so I think the longer it goes on ... I think the vaccination has provided some hope."
Getting vaccinated was just another day at work for Petre, because in her eyes it’s just another way to prove that she’s committed to helping the community.
"It's just really important for me to take a stand and to show to our community, our families, our coworkers, our patients, how important that commitment is to us getting through this pandemic," Petre said.
For now it’s back to work for Petre -- helping a community that helped her grow into Downtown Julie Brown.