LYNNFIELD — When Jewish pharmacist Margot (Kreplick) Bloom of Lynnfield found herself out of work last year due to the pandemic, she wondered how she could make a difference.
She wanted to do something to honor her friend Karen Nascembeni, a Lynnfield resident and general manager of the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly.
Early on in the pandemic, Nascembeni lost her husband, Steven T. Richard, at age 58, and her father-in-law, Earl Richard, at 99, to COVID-19. Nascembeni herself survived a 2-month-long battle with the disease. During her recovery, Bloom and others in Nascembeni’s wide circle of friends purchased T-shirts featuring her likeness and emblazoned with “Hello Darling” to help fund a photography scholarship in her husband’s name.
When it comes to honoring Nascembeni’s story, Bloom hit a homerun, becoming the vaccine coordinator for the Fenway Park mass vaccination site.
Bloom chalks up getting the dream job to her people skills and a bit of kismet.
She wore her “Hello Darling” T-shirt to work on Feb. 2, her first day overseeing vaccinations at the Sammy’s On 3rd Pub, located in the 3rd Base Concourse of Fenway Park.
The bar has been converted to a prep area, and 12 nearby tables are being used as vaccination stations.
Bloom oversees the process from when the vials of Pfizer vaccine come out of the freezer at minus 70 Celsius to when shots go into arms.
By the time the Fenway Park mass vaccination site closes March 27, workers will have administered more than 55,000 shots, according to Governor Charlie Baker.
Fenway handles about 1,200 to 1,300 vaccinations a day, Bloom said. The site is operated by CIC Health, which also runs vaccination sites at Gillette Stadium and the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.
So, how did Bloom wind up at the mass vaccination site at Fenway Park?
Bloom grew up in Marblehead. Her father, Hubert Kreplick, ran Paramount Drug on Union Street in Lynn from 1962 to 2003, and Bloom worked in the pharmacy as a young girl.
After graduating from Marblehead High, Bloom earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy with a minor in marketing from the University of Rhode Island in 1987. She became a licensed pharmacist, but decided to go into pharmaceutical sales instead.
In 2009, Bloom, who has three daughters, wanted a better work-life balance, so she went back to work as a retail pharmacist, working for Rite Aid in Melrose and Gloucester.
When her mother, Roberta Kreplick, died in 2013, Bloom wanted to be closer to her father, who is now almost 85 and lives in Salem.
She took a job at Eaton’s Apothecary in Lynn, two blocks from where her father’s drug store once was.
When Eaton’s was bought by CVS, she stayed on for two years and left to take a job at a community health center.
Then the pandemic upended her plans. Her last day at CVS was March 26, 2020.
She planned to have 10 days off before starting her new job, but then the state shut down. She couldn’t be trained for her new community health center job. “Even though I’m essential, I couldn’t start work,” Bloom said.
By the time the state reopened, the health center had rescinded its offer.
Then at the end of January, “out of left field,” she says, Bloom got a call from a recruiter with an intriguing job offer: vaccine coordinator. She later learned it was for Fenway Park.
She had an interview on a Friday, and waited on tenterhooks to hear back. She didn’t have to wait long: The following Monday, she got an email at 10 a.m. for a 3 p.m. interview. At 5:30 p.m., CIC offered her the job.
She started work that Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 8 a.m., with no spring training, so to speak. “It’s like going from 0 to 180 very quickly,” she said.
These days, Bloom gets up at 5:15 a.m., works a 12-hour shift at Fenway, and gets home by 7:30 p.m.
“Nobody’s complaining, you know,” said Bloom. “We have created a very well-oiled machine in a short amount of time. I’m a numbers person. I’m very detail-oriented and this is exactly what this job is.”
Bloom said the beauty of the job is she is able to honor her friend. She still has the text message from Karen Nascembeni from last St. Patrick’s Day that she and her husband both had the coronavirus and were heading to the hospital.
“The COVID-19 pandemic hit Margot on a very personal level,” Nascembeni said in an email.
Their lives have been intertwined for nearly 30 years. Steven Richard and Margot’s future husband, George Bloom, were roommates. Nascembeni, who was dating Richard at the time, suggested to George Bloom that he date a Jewish woman.
“So Karen and Steven are responsible for our union,” Margot Bloom said.
“I have no doubt that Steven’s death and my near-death experience touched the Bloom family on a very deep level,” Nascembeni said.
Bloom said Steven Richard’s death was among the first in Massachusetts from the coronavirus. Then in mid-April, Bloom lost her father-in-law at age 97 to COVID-19.
Bloom said she found her recruitment to be the vaccine coordinator at Fenway Park a strange coincidence. She had a premonition, and had been thinking about Nascembeni the day she got the call from the recruiter.
“I’m hoping that I get it because it will give me some purpose to everything,” Bloom said she told Nascembeni. “And then I get the job.”
“The first three days at work, well, what do I do? I try to keep her with me, so I wear the shirt to work,” Bloom said of her “Hello Darling” T-shirt. She also wore the shirt when she got vaccinated herself.
“Everybody that meets Karen loves her,” Bloom said. “She would do anything for anyone, and I felt this was my way of honoring her. You know, she has been through hell and back.”
Bloom, who belongs to Temple Tiferet Shalom in Peabody, believes somebody was watching out for her.
“It’s very bizarre how things happen sometimes. You say, ‘Why did this happen?’ or ‘Who was watching out for me?’ … Sometimes you can’t plan things, there is no way you could predict this would happen.”
With April 1 — Opening Day — fast approaching, Baker announced during a March 4 press conference that the Fenway Park site would transition to the Hynes Convention Center.
The Hynes site will open March 18, Baker said. Fenway’s last day will be March 27.
“I’ll miss the nostalgia of Fenway Park,” said Bloom. But she also is willing to go wherever she’s needed “to get the job done and help get more people vaccinated.”