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Bon Secours St. Francis’ New Tech and Old Tricks Made for a Smooth Vaccination Clinics

The team at Bon Secours St. Francis in Greenville relies on electronic record-keeping to speed and simplify its mass vaccination process, but it has also found a few “old-school” techniques to support the staff, ensure quality control and accountability, and keep patients moving in the right direction.

A few examples:

  • Having an actual person at every entrance who serves as a greeter, can answer questions, check for eligibility and ensure that the patient has an appointment;
  • Using laminated signs and overhead projection style markers to ensure that each vaccination location has all needed information at a glance (like today’s date, steps for each patient, doses, spelling of Pfizer, etc.);
  • Having a high-performing “float nurse;”
  • A checklist that is initialed at each location to ensure that no steps are missed;
  • Coffee, snacks and chocolate for the staff because “There’s nothing worse than a decaffeinated nurse,” said Brandi Giles, APRN, Nurse Manager.

Vaccination clinics take place in classrooms adjacent to the downtown hospital, which ensures

quick access to the emergency department, security or other services that might be needed during the process. “We got some walkie talkies through our supply chain so we can always communicate with each other,” said Jake Johnson, AEM, NRP, emergency management coordinator. The units can sound a tone or musical alert if someone needs immediate help for any reason.

Vaccination days start early, with nurses coming in well before the first appointments to begin drawing a large amount of vaccine doses in a quiet, non-rushed, setting. As more doses are needed throughout the day, nurses again go to a quiet zone to ensure that the work is done correctly. Dual verification of reconstitution ensures every dose is measured out exactly, and there are also processes in place to account for every vaccine the health system receives.

Because some patients had difficulty navigating VAMS to make appointments, Johnson created a simple online survey that only required the patient’s name, email address and a check-off that they qualified for vaccination. That survey was then uploaded into a spreadsheet and imported into VAMS. A phone line staffed by “truly amazing volunteers and community health workers” offered an option for people who didn’t have an email address or access to a computer.

“We’re centrally located in downtown Greenville, near neighborhoods where there are inequities in access to technology and healthcare, and that helps us reach those populations,” Giles said. “We’ve utilized our community health and wellness department staff. We have a great team of nurses and social workers who are out in the community and getting word out.”

There have been process changes in response to lessons learned. “One problem with not being in the hospitals is that we don’t have an elevator that can handle a stretcher, in the event that a patient has an emergency. We have to call EMS to transport a patient 200 feet to the ER,” Johnson said. “My advice is to do a practice exercise of someone having a reaction so that everyone will know what to do.”

The team also recently moved to a third-party information technology provider to better integrate with the hospital’s electronic medical records system. “VAMS has made strides, but people would have to make their own appointments for the second dose. The new system allows us to make the second-dose appointment while they’re here,” Giles said.

Staffing the events is a true team effort, she said. “We’re all repurposed. Jake was repurposed for emergency planning. I was in a quality role. We have nurses from cardiology, OR, trauma. Everyone wants to do this. Everyone keeps saying, ‘This is why we’re here.’ We’re here for the patients, to get this community vaccinated. I’ve been an ER nurse, an NP, and this is what I’ve been training for 18 years.”