South Hill, VA (2/25/21) – A lot of logistics and organization go into planning a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) has held several successful patient and employee vaccine clinics, administering more than 1,700 first doses to patients and 600 to employees, with more than 4,000 total doses given to date. VCU Health CMH was coordinating with other providers so they could vaccinate their patients, but the Virginia Department of Health is now handling distribution.
Brenda Palmore, DHA, FACMPE, FASPR, is theVice President of Practice Management & Business Development at VCU Health CMH. She said the only way the hospital was able to pull off these vaccine clinics while still caring for COVID-positive patients was teamwork. The CMH Auxiliary offered their services to call patients that meet the criteria to schedule appointments.
By utilizing the old hospital’s Emergency Department on Buena Vista Circle allowed for easy parking, social distancing, and patient flow was key. The CMH Pharmacy Department managed vaccination distribution and ensured that the appropriate number of doses were prepared for each clinic day. Several clinical and administrative departments offered their services to assist in the efforts by screening patients, registering patients, overseeing the students, administering the vaccine, mixing vaccines, and providing site security. Nurse Managers ensured all vaccine documentation was recorded and uploaded to the state of Virginia and emergency supplies were available if needed due to an adverse reaction.The South Hill Police Department placed an officer on site a few days for crowd control and parking management.
Community Memorial Hospital has had a long-standing relationship with the Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) Nursing Program and is a clinical rotation site for students. SVCC Clinical Coordinators immediately offered their services to assist with the vaccination roll out in our community. The SVCC student nurses played a huge role in this effort. On most vaccination days, SVCC provided 8-10 student nurses to administer the vaccine. Michelle Edmonds, DNP, RN, is the Special Assistant to the VP of Academics and Workforce, Dean of Nursing, Health, and Science at SVCC. She said, “SVCC Associate Degree nursing students felt that they were impacting the health of the community in a major way by assisting with the vaccination clinics. At SVCC we value the communities that we serve and our students are proud and honored to give back to the community in such an exciting and impactful way.”
SVCC student Victoria Ezell of Lacrosse vaccinated Jean Clay Bagley of South Hill. Mrs. Bagley said, “We trust the COVID vaccine like the flu shot or any other vaccine. We get it to stay healthy. The clinic was very organized. The people of South Hill support the hospital and the hospital is committed to the community.”
SVCC student Mikayle Baun of McKenney administered the first dose to Sarah Lassiter of South Hill on the second day of clinics. When asked why she chose to get the vaccine, Ms. Lassiter explained, “I understand the severity of the disease and was surprised I got called this early.”
SVCC student Natasha Robinson-Sykes of McKenney vaccinated Elizabeth Kersey, 92 years old. Daughter Brenda Kersey brought her mother, Elizabeth, to the clinic. “It is very important for the older ones to get it first. I am planning on getting mine when I am called.” Brenda said. “I’m glad to help,” nursing student Natasha said. “I look forward to getting my shot when the time comes.” SVCC students were vaccinating others before they had been vaccinated themselves.
Phyllis Cavan and Joanne Malone with VCU Health CMH were working the check-in desk and overheard patients talking about how happy they were with their experience at the clinics. Phyllis said, “People were talking about how our vaccine clinic was so much better than the ones in their area, and that they were going to go back and tell them they needed to see how we do it. Patients were complimentary of the short wait and how well everything was running. They commented it was better than waiting in a long line of cars like they had seen on TV.”
Thank you letters poured into administration from the community. Merle and Thelma Adkins said, “Just want you to know what an easy experience it was to get our COVID shots at your hospital! The process was streamlined and so organized.” Jimmie Keith Crowder said, “Got my second shot this morning and it went flawlessly. The staff was so kind and helpful.” Judy Shepherd said, “It went like clockwork. I must tell you how kind and upbeat every single staff member was. Every nurse was proficient and caring. All of us were treated with respect and consideration. The past ten months have been extremely challenging for all of you. I hope knowing that you are appreciated might make things a bit easier.”
The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool to help stop the pandemic. VCU Health CMH has started the vaccination efforts in line with Virginia's vaccine rollout plan. Please do not call about COVID-19 vaccine appointments. They are committed to vaccinating as many people as possible, as supply permits. The link to the VDH’s Vaccine Pre-registration page is vax.preregister.virginia.gov.