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The Newsroom

COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment a Team Effort

El Camino Health administered its first COVID-19 vaccinations to hospital front-line workers and physicians on December 18, and, by the end of the year, more than 1,600 employees and travelers, and close to 400 physicians, have received the first in a series of two vaccinations.

Preparing to administer the vaccine to El Camino Health staff and physicians took much effort from a number of departments throughout the organization.

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“It was truly a team effort, sort of like choreographing a production” said Mari Numanlia-Wone, RN, manager, Employee Wellness & Health Services. “We pulled together a number of people with different expertise to help with the planning.”

Mari noted that departments like Executive Team, Human Resources, Clinical Education, Facilities, Materials Management, Nursing, and Pharmacy all participated on the Vaccine Task Force to help with the planning and implementation. Some of the key issues to solve were how to properly handle the vaccine, storage, privacy (when administering the vaccine) and scheduling, which is especially tricky since vaccine recipients have to be observed for 10 minutes to ensure they don’t experience an side effects, and recipients must come back for a second vaccine.

Mari credits Anwar Adi, database engineer, Information Services Business Systems, for developing a “home grown” solution to scheduling, as well as quick development training tools by Clinical Education Beth Willy and Jackie Keane, Facilities, and Paul Hasbrook from Materials Management for being flexible when providing solutions for vaccine storage. Pharmacy Director Jen Huang and Ketul Patel, manager, Outpatient Pharmacy, noted that since it is rare to store vaccine in ultra-low -80 Celsius (the temperature at South Pole), staff had to receive additional training and learn special handling methods for the vaccines.

Jen noted that a number of employees gave up planned time off during the holidays, and came in to staff the vaccine clinic, either preparing the vaccine in single syringe ready to administer or vaccinating staff. The vaccine roll out highlights the role of pharmacy as an integral part of the team to contribute to the overall success of the vaccination project.

“This entire project has been a prideful moment for the Pharmacy team,” said Ketul. “They took the initiative to help lead the project and helping with planning from the time the vaccine hit the dock to the point of administering it.”

Added Jen, “With this vaccine there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While the pandemic has been a life-changing event, the whole team has really pulled together and is happy and excited to be part of the process that is helping to protect our employees and doctors.”