Stories: Mass vaccination gets a shot in the arm

Renee Rassilyer-Bomers, DNP, CMSRN, RN-BC

Renee Rassilyer-Bomers, DNP, CMSRN, RN-BC

Later this month, we’ll partner with the city of Seattle to roll out a mass vaccination clinic at Lumen Field Event Center. Given the logistics involved, it is a major undertaking but one we’re ready for. After managing a clinic at Seattle University (SU) capable of vaccinating 2,500 community members a day, we’ve learned what does and doesn’t work. Leading the effort since day one has been our Chief Quality Officer, Renee Rassilyer-Bomers, DNP, CMSRN, RN-BC. Renee took a (quick) break to explain how the clinic at Lumen Field Event Center will work and what it will take to continue protecting the community. 

What will our role in the mass vaccination clinic be? 

We have two roles. First, we’re responsible for providing all of the clinical supplies and clinical staff. The staff component will include the immunizers—everyone from nurses and doctors to medical assistants—as well as the folks who are observing patients after they’ve received their shot and the clinical leaders who are overseeing the operation. 

In addition to that, we’re providing consultation on the design of the clinic that reflects what we rolled out at our SU clinic, just on a much larger scale. 

How will the clinic work? 

Using what we learned from our work at the SU clinic, as well as consultations with Starbucks on simulating volume, we designed a schedule that’s built around a pod system. So depending on how many doses we get from the state, we can scale up quickly. We can start with 2,500 daily doses and quickly move up to 5,000 and then 8,000 and then 14,000, all the way up to 22,000. And based on the levers we pull, we can have the appropriate number of volunteers there who are registered and awaiting assignment as clinics open up. 

If we run this clinic at 100%, we can bring in as many as 154,000 individuals each week. 

We’re starting out by distributing 5,000 doses per week, though. Why is that? 

Part of it has to do with limited supply. But also, if we go full tilt and begin with 22,000 patients per day, you need a fairly large number of clinical staff to be able to oversee and make sure that everything is done correctly. 

Instead we’re starting with two days per week of 2,500 shots so we can begin preparing for challenges that may arise along the way. We have to have contingency plans. So starting with a small volume will allow us to practice and work out any kinks so that when we are administering more than 20,000 doses a day, seven days a week, we’re ready for whatever may happen. 

How can community members get a vaccine at this clinic? 

The city is going to begin by prioritizing vulnerable populations. As with Swedish’s mobile efforts, where we’ve partnered with community organizations to put on pop-up immunization clinics in communities with access challenges, the city will be reaching out to those organizations—and many others—initially for this clinic at Lumen Field Event Center. 

Once that outreach has been successful, members of the general public who meet the phase criteria will be able to sign up through a Department of Health website that lists all available clinics. We’ll share more when this website is live. 

And then for those who are elderly or lack access to the internet, there will also be a call center. It’s a priority of ours and the city’s to ensure that the registration process is equitable. 

How did this partnership with the city come together? 

The city toured almost every hospital clinic in the region and found that ours had the best flow and was the most efficient. That speaks to our organization and our preparedness. 

We also have a lot of supporting materials that are appealing. We’ve created a vaccination playbook based on our experience managing the clinic at SU that we’ll be able to use to train vaccinators and other staff for the clinic at Lumen Field Event Center. 

What did it take to put the SU clinic together? 

We had just over one week to make it happen. The governor met with the hospitals on New Year's Day, which was a Friday, and explained that we were being asked to vaccinate 500 people per hospital, per day. We have five hospitals, so that's 2,500 vaccinations every single day. 

We can't do that in the hospital, so we had to find another site. SU was perfect because it’s between two of our largest campuses. We had the rooms set up and built by the following Thursday. We did a walkthrough on Friday and changed everything. We did a simulation day on Monday to ensure everything was ready and then had our first clinic on Tuesday. 

That sounds like a massive project. 

It was. But it was also very successful. In fact, folks from other organizations toured it and began replicating the design. That playbook I mentioned, we’ve given it to others so that they can use it as a template and modify it as they see fit. And if they modify it and it works, well, we want to know because we’re all about learning. 

What did we learn from the SU clinic that we’ll be able to apply to the clinic at Lumen Field Event Center? 

We learned a lot about how to refine the roles of the various staff needed to manage a vaccination clinic, particularly the large volumes of volunteers. So we’ll be replicating that structure to staff and manage the clinic at Lumen Field Event Center. 

We also learned the challenges of not scheduling dose two at the same time as dose one and then having to track down those folks after the fact. The city will be implementing new software that will allow us to handle scheduling both dose one and dose two. 

The third thing we’ve learned a lot about is volunteer management and expectations. Our team put a tremendous amount of work into building a plan that allowed us to contact and utilize volunteers at a moment’s notice. We had to create materials and a process by which they could show up and, within 15 minutes, be trained. 

Our volunteers, by the way, have been amazing. They came to help out, three days a week, out of the goodness of their heart. Those are the folks we’re going to reach out to initially to help out at Lumen Field Event Center. 

For more information about where you can get vaccinated in Seattle, visit FindYourPhaseWA.org. Help is also available over the phone from the Washington State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline: Dial 1-800-525-0127, then press #. The hotline is available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, and observed state holidays. Phone interpretation is available.