Lakeland (Fla.) Regional Medical Center’s drive-through community vaccination program provides free flu and pneumonia vaccines to community seniors for three days each fall. Seniors make appointments for the service and simply drive through the hospital’s parking garage.
“They don’t even have to get out of their cars unless they want to,” says the nurse who organizes the outreach, Mary Jane Seymour, RN-C, MS, manager of advanced practice nursing. “They don’t have to bring a wheelchair or a walker and worry about facilitating the entrance and exit from the hospital. They can bring their pets through; we even give away dog biscuits.”
Last year, nurses administered 1,327 flu and 217 pneumonia vaccines. The goal, according to Seymour, is to provide about 2,000 total vaccines to people 55 years and older. However, if the supply of vaccines is adequate, no one is turned away, Seymour says.Mary Jane Seymour, RN
Glenda Kaminski, RN, MS, AOCN, advanced practice specialist in oncology, who administers vaccines during the outreach event, explains that scheduling seniors is vital to the program’s success and keeps them from having to wait in long car lines. Those who want the vaccinations come at their appointed times.
“Logistically, it allows us at any given time to do between six and eight folks every 10 to 15 minutes,” Kaminski says. “There’s signage, which shows them which way to enter; then we have security guards that guide them into the four, five, or six stations set up, where we have everything we need for the immunizations.”
Nurses approach the parked cars with consent forms for the patients to sign, then administer the vaccines. “Then we talk to them a little, just to keep them around for a bit and make sure they’ll be OK,” Kaminiski says.
They give those who are OK to drive away Hershey’s Kisses and send them on their ways.
Opportunity For Nurses, Nursing Students
Seymour invites students from a local nursing school to volunteer at the vaccination outreach. It gives the students the chance to interact with relatively healthy seniors in the community, administer vaccines, and work side by side with the hospital’s advanced practice and registered nurses.
“It gives them the opportunity to really interact and talk nursing. And the staff that works here has the opportunity to talk with them and help them,” Seymour says.
The outreach is also an opportunity for staff nurses to interact with other hospital departments and provide care to healthy community members.
“We enjoy doing it. We find that being in the hospital setting, you’re working with ill adults but in the setting of the vaccine program, you have healthy older adults. It gives us another perspective,” Seymour says.
Some nurses who administer the vaccines work in two- or four-hour shifts, while others work the entire eight-hour day. They are paid for their time through the hospital’s marketing and planning budget so their individual units do not have to absorb the cost, according to Seymour.
Marketing, security, and other departments take part.. “We don’t find this a chore, this is a labor of love,” Seymour says.
Reaching the Community
The marketing department captures the names and other information the seniors provide for the hospital’s senior marketing database and uses the mailing list to notify people in the community about other events at the hospital.
The program, while it is an expense for the hospital, sends a positive message. “I think it’s an excellent example of how cooperation and collaboration across the hospital, with a true team approach, makes it much easier to accomplish something like this,” Seymour says. “In the end, the goal is to meet the needs of community members [who could be our patients] and, hopefully, impact their health.”
Lisette Hilton is a freelance writer.