Before COVID-19 vaccine information hit the news cycle late last year, our team was already getting up to speed on the State of Washington’s distribution plans. This work included applying for approval to become a vaccination distributor, collaborating with other Washington State hospitals to share insights, reviewing state requirements, developing strategies and forming teams to stand up a clinic. This has been an all-hands-on-deck effort; a lesson in flexibility, adaptability and resilience. We pulled staff from nearly every department in the hospital and reached out to our amazing volunteer network, both new and old. We’ve had a great response from community members who want to help with the effort and we are developing plans and processes to onboard new volunteers specifically for the vaccination clinic.
As we began vaccinating our frontline health care workers on New Year’s Eve, the sense of relief and hope in the hospital was tangible. We encouraged staff to take “selfies” with their vaccination certificate and we played upbeat music to celebrate this milestone. Our staff, who had weathered the COVID-19 battle on the frontlines for the last year, started to see some signs of hope for the New Year ahead.
As we continued the effort and pivoted our focus to distributing the vaccine to the Phase 1B1 community, we faced new challenges and opportunities. We realized that many in the Phase 1B1 group (ages 65 and above) may not have access to online scheduling and if they do, it may not be second nature to book appointments this way. We’ve heard the urgency in our patients’ and community members’ voices. From phone calls to emails, we’ve learned how stressful it has been to try to get a coveted vaccine appointment. Please know that we hear you, and we take your concerns and your frustrations to heart. Our vaccine team regroups regularly to discuss feedback and make process improvements. We’re updating information daily, tweaking the scheduling system and answering the calls for help from individuals who have questions or just need to speak to a calming voice.
Over the last few weeks, Island Hospital has received extremely limited doses of the vaccine from the State of Washington—zero doses for the week of February 15th—compounding the urgency and frustration in our community. In order to help vaccinate our community, we need more vaccines. We have advocated for more resources in our county and continue to collaborate with our regional partners, from public health to local hospitals.
Island Hospital is committed to helping everyone get vaccinated, whether within our walls or elsewhere in our county or state. Please continue to check our website regularly for vaccine updates: https://www.islandhospital.org/covidvaccine and go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/Immunization/VaccineLocations to find a list of other vaccine distributors.
Charles Hall, MSN, MBA
Island Hospital Chief Executive Officer
Island Hospital Chief Executive Officer Charles T. Hall has nearly a quarter century of progressive operational experience leading healthcare organizations in creating new services, expanding and upgrading existing programs and delivering high-quality, evidence-based care. Hall earned two Master’s degrees in 2008 from Johns Hopkins University in business administration and health systems management. In 2002, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Washington State University, Pullman, WA.