By Sarah Garcia - January 11, 2021
What does it take to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to hundreds of healthcare workers daily?
“It takes a village,” said Stacey Aragon, RN, director of Nursing Operations at Moffitt Cancer Center. “Our leadership team, nursing, pharmacy, informatics, occupational health, human resources and scheduling all worked together to make this possible, and with a very short lead time.”
Within days of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issuing an emergency use authorization for the first COVID-19 vaccine, an integrative team effort was launched to design and coordinate an employee vaccine clinic at Moffitt.
Aragon said Moffitt’s senior leadership team, including Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bob Keenan and Chief Nursing Officer Jane Fusilero, lead the team effort. “The HR Team helped to identify and prioritize team members for the Patient Appointment Center to schedule; Pharmacy, Nursing and Informatics developed workflows and vaccine preparation; IT provided the technology and hardware; Environmental Services and Stores ensured that we had everything we needed and our Food Services team made sure everyone was well-fed.”
The first clinic was held Thursday, Dec. 17. “That was our pilot day and we definitely learned a lot about how to sequence our team members and run the clinic as efficiently as possible,” Aragon said. “We have managed to vaccinate anywhere between 400 to upwards of 600 people per day for a total of over 3,500.”
On site, over 25 employees from nursing, pharmacy, patient access and occupational health function as a team to run the pop-up clinic. Patient access representatives schedule and check in team members, pharmacists prepare vaccines and log time to ensure doses are administered within the effective time frame, and nurses screen team members and administer the vaccine.
Moffitt Registered Nurse Alexandra Houston has been working in the clinic since day one. The opportunity to vaccinate fellow health care workers is particularly special for Houston, who spent two months deployed through the U.S. Army Reserves Medical Brigade on COVID duty at a New Jersey community hospital.
“It’s been especially rewarding for me after caring for so many patients and being on the frontlines with so many other wonderful nurses,” she said. “This has been a heavy weight on health care workers all over the world, and it finally feels like we’re starting to see the light.”
Moffitt Hospital Support and Staffing Coordinator Francie Erickson’s role in the vaccine clinic is to ensure stations are set up and supplies ordered, as well as escort team members and answer questions that crop up. Along the way, she’s had a firsthand look at just how important this landmark moment is to so many of our team members.
“You can see the excitement – they come out and they just want to thank someone. I can’t even explain to you how grateful they have been,” she said. “It’s a very good feeling.”
Since the start of the clinic, Moffitt has administered more than 3,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to staff – a massive team effort to protect those whose spend their days caring for others.
“This is that first step to getting back to normal, said Aragon. “And I think that, when you can take care of your caregivers, everything else falls into place.”