The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and WHA co-hosted an important conversation about increasing COVID-19 vaccination on June 23. More than 200 health care provider representatives and stakeholders tuned in to the virtual webinar entitled, Increasing COVID-19 Vaccination in Emergency Departments, Urgent Cares and at Discharge
. Kicking off the discussion, DHS Secretary-Designee Karen Timberlake acknowledged and thanked vaccine partners across the state and noted that during this phase of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination journey, “We want the vaccine to find people wherever they may be.”
This theme was echoed by a panel of hospital and health system leaders active in their organizations’ vaccination programs: Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai, MD, Vice President of the Marshfield Clinic Health System’s Institute for Quality Innovation and Patient Safety Tammy Simon, RN, and Froedtert Hospital & the Medical College of Wisconsin Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer Siddhartha Singh, MD. The panel, moderated by WHA Senior Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk, provided insight into how Wisconsin hospitals and health systems demonstrated their ability, as Dr. Rai noted, “…to get vaccine into a lot of arms, very effectively and very quickly.”
Dr. Singh expanded upon the phases of vaccination his health system has experienced, starting with scheduled and carefully prioritized COVID immunizations when vaccine supply was very limited and including their current multi-pronged model which provides community members with an opportunity to receive vaccination at a scheduled or walk-in appointment or during an encounter for other care. As Dr. Singh explained, “We still have waste mitigation strategies, but what we are really focused on is to not waste any opportunity.”
Making vaccine available wherever and whenever a patient is ready to be vaccinated is a strategy that comes with some logistical challenges. Simon described how Marshfield Clinic Health System, covering mainly rural areas, overcame challenges through a planful approach and by focusing on partnerships. To make vaccination widely available in the communities it serves, Marshfield has now expanded storage and staffing to 21 vaccination sites. Simon noted, “It’s a big challenge, but we focused on working with our community partners and each doing what we could. We’ve developed new relationships and accomplished a lot together.”
Dr. Rai described how Prevea and its hospital partners at Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) are working to incorporate an approach of “every patient, every time” into settings across the communities they serve. These settings include pilots in emergency departments, inpatient alcohol and other drug addiction (AODA) units and rehab units, to name a few. Dr. Rai also noted the success Prevea and HSHS have had in extending vaccination to family and visitors in settings like birthing centers.
Innovation, partnerships, accomplishments and opportunities unwasted were shared, along with lessons learned. Singh, Simon and Rai all expressed the importance of health care providers caring for themselves and each other as COVID continues to impact the health care workforce and the communities they serve. As Dr. Rai noted, gratitude plays a healing role for the provider and the patient.
“As we discuss vaccination with every patient, every time, it’s not just about encouraging people to get vaccinated; it’s also about showing gratitude and taking the opportunity to thank those who have already been vaccinated for doing the right thing for themselves and their community,” Rai reflected.
The webinar recording can be found under the “Video Links” section of WHA’s On-Demand Learning Center