Cape Cod Regional Vaccine Consortium: Coming together to help the community
Last month, Cape Cod Healthcare, county health officials and others working locally on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic became alarmed by the lack of access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the region and decided to step in and escalate the process.
“Mike Lauf knew immediately that we wanted and needed to be part of the solution,” said Lori Jewett, chief operating officer for Cape Cod Healthcare.
Late last month, Cape Cod Healthcare President and CEO Michael Lauf reached out to state Health and Human Services Sec. Marylou Sudders and the Cape Cod Legislative delegation to figure out a way to streamline the vaccination process and increase the numbers for distribution in Barnstable County. He and other public health and political representatives wanted to ensure that the region’s senior and at-risk populations received the vaccine as soon as possible.
Soon after, Cape Cod Hospital was added to the state’s list of approved hospitals to receive and administer the COVID-19 vaccines and the Cape Cod Regional Vaccine Consortium was established. The consortium is comprised of Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC), Barnstable County, the Cape Cod Legislative delegation, the towns and community health centers on Cape Cod, with support from Cape Cod Community College (4Cs).
The two federally-qualified community health centers, Outer Cape Health Services (with locations in Provincetown, Wellfleet and Harwich) and Community Health Center of Cape Cod in Mashpee agreed to do small vaccination clinics with the vaccine supply they had received, including those at risk and homebound. CCHC and Barnstable County are operating the 4Cs vaccination site, which is located in the college gymnasium.
CCHC and Barnstable County had been using the Melody Tent parking lot in Hyannis as a vaccination site and have moved all first and second-dose vaccination efforts to the college gymnasium.
The Consortium between the county, CCHC, the 15 towns on Cape Cod, the Legislative delegation and 4Cs has been in place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, explained Sean O’Brien, director and chief health office for the county Department of Health and Environment. But the consortium was formalized over the past couple weeks, he said.
“This formalization is a way for us to show the state that we are all working together on this and, because we have all of these important players together, we can efficiently get vaccine out to the public,” he said.
He credited Lauf with pitching in immediately after the pandemic began last year to ask the county how the health organization could help.
“He said ‘ how can we help and what can we do?’” O’Brien said. “And the assistance that we got, and this partnership has been absolutely incredible.”
Parallel Vaccination Clinics
CCHC and Barnstable County are running parallel, independent vaccination sites at the college gymnasium, said Jewett. People signing up for the county site register on the state’s PrepMod website. For the CCHC site, schedulers are calling previously identified, at-risk, eligible residents and scheduling appointments, she said.
CCHC schedulers are receiving names and contact information from a variety of sources, including towns’ Councils On Aging, town boards of health and fire and police departments, and medical provider practices (both within the CCHC system and outside providers). These lists are names of the highest-risk eligible population within each town, regardless of whether they are or have ever been a patient at CCHC. CCHC schedulers are now calling everyone on the lists to set up appointments. No incoming calls will be taken, Jewett said.
The Town of Barnstable is working with community health centers to focus, specifically, on addressing vaccine equity in minority populations.
CCHC is currently receiving 2,000 doses per week and Barnstable County is receiving 1,070 doses per week. However, should the supply increase, the CCHC side of things, alone, has the ability to give 1,500 doses of the vaccine every day, Jewett said. On the day of this interview, they had given 800 doses by 2 p.m., she said. “Mike (Lauf) is the driver that got us where we are,” said Jewett
The county last week received its first doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, O’Brien said. While the overall supply of vaccines is still not where they would like it to be, it is increasing, he said.
The CCHC team that has been working on the clinic “has been amazing,” Jewett said. “I can’t even tell you what they had to accomplish to get this going.”
Katie Goulart, manager of Central Scheduling for CCHC, “literally (manages the scheduling of) thousands of people every day,” according to Jewett.
The rest of CCHC team includes:
- Judy Quinn, vice president of Patient Care and chief nursing officer at Cape Cod Hospital, who is leading the clinical side.
- James Mangan, director of Hospital and Ambulatory Pharmacy for CCHC, who is leading the pharmacy side of the operation.
- Michael Bachstein, vice president of Facilities Management, and Frank Riccio, director of Security and Emergency Preparedness at Cape Cod Hospital, who are running the facilities operations end.
- Meredith Carchedi, nurse manager of Mugar 6 patient floor, who is doing all of the scheduling for the CCHC nurses working the vaccination clinic.
- Darlene Vendettelli, executive director of Information Systems, and her team, which is handling the complex IT aspects of the operation.
The nurses who have been staffing the vaccine clinic have gone above and beyond what is expected of them, said Jewett, who has also worked at the vaccination site, as needed.
“It’s so uplifting to work the clinic,” she said. “It is the core of why all of us became nurses, and it brings you back to what’s so important and why it’s important, and why this community needs our help and we have to jump in and help. I’ve heard it over and over from people who have worked the sites. You’d think they would be complaining about working in the frigid cold or rain, but nobody’s complaining at all.”
The county clinic is led by Erika Woods, deputy director and senior environmental specialist, who is running operations at the county vaccination site, O’Brien said. Public health nurse Deirdre Arvidson runs the clinical portion. County public health nurses as well as nurse volunteers from the Barnstable County Medical Reserve Corps are administering the shots.
“Those volunteers are absolutely incredible,” O’Brien said. “They’re on the site, they’re handling our hotline and, back in the beginning, they were making masks for Cape Cod Healthcare.”
Here is how appointments are handled for the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Cape Cod Community College:
- How do eligible residents make an appointment for a Barnstable County Clinic at 4Cs? Clinics will be announced 24 hours in advance and appointments will be made using the state’s, PrepMod website.
- How do eligible residents make an appointment through Cape Cod Healthcare at the 4Cs site? At this time, Cape Cod Healthcare will not be offering appointments to the public. CCHC schedulers will be contacting (by telephone) the most vulnerable population of older residents identified by various town entities. These residents do not need to be CCHC patients. An effort is underway to connect CCHC to the PrepMod scheduling platform. If that is successful, a certain number of appointments will be available for self-registration.
- What plans are being made to provide vaccine to our region’s homebound population? The Consortium is working with the COVID-19 Command Center and state Department of Public Health to request additional vaccine supplies for homebound residents (about 2,500 residents have been identified as homebound). “Homebound” is defined as residents that have functional impairments that prevent them from leaving their homes, according to the county Health Department.
- Are people automatically signed up for their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine? No, for the county site, they will be sent a special link for the PrepMod site to sign up for their second dose. For the CCHC site, they will be called or CCHC patients will receive an email through the MyChart patient portal notifying them when they are scheduled.
- Where on the 4Cs campus is the Vaccination Clinic? The clinic is located in the 4Cs gymnasium which is located by driving into the college of Route 132 and driving almost all the way around the campus to where the drive begins to exit back to 132. The gymnasium is located on the right.
- Do I need to park and go into the gym? Yes, however car-side accommodations will be made for those with physical disabilities who are unable to walk into the facility.
View our dedicated COVID-19 vaccination resources page to learn more.