Two months before the COVID-19 pandemic closed down businesses and changed daily life in March of 2020, The Vancouver Clinic implemented its “Situation Management Team.” The team started off the year meeting once a day to discuss new ways to take care of the Vancouver community and changes in health guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the team now meets a few times a week, Infection Prevention and Control Supervisor Deanna Hillstrom said the members of the team “figure out how to make large changes as painless as possible.”
“It has been great to have so many people working on this at once,” she said, mentioning that everyone from information technology to leadership at the Vancouver Clinic are involved in the process.
Since forming the team, the clinic has implemented video visits to allow patients to talk to their doctors from home, helped different Vancouver Clinic locations correctly adjust to new CDC guidelines as they get released and helped coordinate the response that has allowed The Vancouver Clinic to administer over 18,000 vaccines in the community since December.
According to Hillstrom, the nearly 20,000 vaccines were administered at three separate Vancouver Clinic locations over the past couple of months — 87th Avenue in Vancouver, Salmon Creek and Vancouver Plaza. Clinics have run eight hours a day Tuesday through Saturday and originally administered the Moderna vaccine but have now switched to Pfizer.
“We more or less use whatever (vaccine) we can get our hands-on,” Hillstrom said.
According to Hillstrom, the Vancouver Clinic has engaged with Clark County Public Health for vaccine distribution and given supplies when they were needed around the county as well as using the county’s vaccine referral system to administer vaccines.
While community members can continue to use the Clark County Public Health vaccine referral system, Hillstrom said patients of The Vancouver Clinic can get the most up-to-date information on the clinic’s COVID-19 response and schedule an appointment online at TVC.org.
“The easiest way for patients to get vaccination information is to visit our website or call the main number that is listed there,” she said.
Hillstrom said having the COVID-19 vaccine in the community is “extremely important” and the next step to returning to “the new normal” of life after the pandemic. She said community members continuing to adhere to physical distancing guidelines, masking up while in public places and educating other community members about the vaccine are the easiest ways for the community to help. Hillstrom said working to get as many people vaccinated as possible is the next step in the process and “herd immunity” can’t be achieved if only a small portion of the public is vaccinated. “If only part of the community is vaccinated, we won’t be able to get where we want to be (for the future),” she said.
For Hilstrom, getting to a new normal means getting to travel again. For other community members, it could be seeing a grandmother or parent. However, the community can’t get there until the fight is over and prevention measures are put in place for “next time.”
“My job in infection prevention is to prevent the spread rather than continue to control it,” she said. “It is cheaper to prevent an infection than continue to fight it.”
More information about the clinic and its vaccination efforts can be found online at TVC.org.