After months of preparation, Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice in Lewiston, ME, did what few independent agencies have attempted: It transformed itself into a COVID-19 vaccine facility.

During a National Association for Home Care & Hospice webinar on Wednesday,  Androscoggin President and CEO Kenneth Albert, RN, along with key staff members shared the steps they took that led to this accomplishment. Among the factors that contributed to their success: planning, providing frequently asked questions and information on the vaccine, and making employees feel comfortable on Vaccination Day.   

Preparation 

The effort began last October with a staff survey to assess the percentage of employees willing to be vaccinated. At the time, 46% of the company’s direct care workers answered no, while 54% answered yes.

Then, working with the state’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Albert and his staff forged ahead with their objective, beginning with the application and its eligibility requirements involving  safe handling of the vaccine, storage, administration, documentation, etc. Albert noted that the authority in other states may be their departments of health.

Once Androscoggin gained approval from Maine’s CDC, it began planning for its vaccination day; Dec. 23, 2020. Processes were developed for scheduling appointments, consent forms and FAQ handouts were developed, logistics to ensure an orderly flow were worked out, and shipment of the Moderna vaccine was eagerly awaited.

“When the vaccine arrived, that was an emotional day,” said Albert. And to ensure none was wasted, Leann Sebrey, RN, chief clinical officer, stressed the importance of scheduling backups in the event of no-shows and “overflow doses.”

Providing support

Sharing their recollections of Vaccination Day were Androscoggin RNs Tina Charest, occupational health, and Shelli Pelletier, transitional care. “I was amazed at how upbeat the atmosphere was,” said Pelletier.

“It was celebratory,” added Charest.

To help people feel comfortable, the agency provided a “warm hand-off” from the registration area to the vaccination area. And for those who still had questions and concerns, there were many stations where staff was on hand to provide answers and support. Even EMS personnel were there — just in case.

“Seeing how well planned everything was gave everyone a sense of confidence that they were being expertly cared for,” said Dr. Elizabeth Hart, M.D., director of medical services at Androscoggin.

Finally, this effort wasn’t just a one-off, with Albert noting that Androscoggin “continues to offer the vaccine routinely.” He added that, “today, 68% of our workforce has been vaccinated; our goal is 85%.”