Vaccination process is efficient at Lakewood Health

Only in rural Minnesota will you find a fish house being used in the middle of winter, in the middle of a clinic parking lot, for something far from ice fishing. But desperate times call for desperate, or rather, innovative, measures.

Since the early fall of 2020, Lakewood Health System has used a parked fish house as a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in their Staples and Browerville clinic parking lots.

Clinic nursing and patient access staff work out of the fish houses, so patients can drive up for their scheduled test and not have to leave their vehicle.

While the fish houses are still being used for COVID testing, since mid-January 2021, the Staples fish house has also been repurposed to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to essential caregivers and those 65 years of age and older, who are part of the Minnesota Department of Health’s priority list.

As of February 4, Lakewood has had the opportunity to give approximately 950 people their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Allocation and distribution of the vaccine from the federal and state governments have been slow and disorderly, causing frustration for healthcare facilities as well as patients and community members.

In contrast, Lakewood has created a well-planned and facilitated process for distributing whatever allocated vaccine doses they receive. And according to patients and staff alike, it’s working very well.

“This is only the third day we’re giving the vaccine, but the response we’ve been getting from patients is overwhelming!” said Lakewood Clinic Lead RN Amanda Wensmann. “Some people have brought us hand and foot warmers because they think we’re cold when they see us running around outside. They don’t know that seeing them so grateful and happy keeps us all warm,” said Clinic LPN LaManda Nurnberger.

“And the cookies,” chimed in Clinic LPN Jody Yeager. And sure enough, on the counter in the fish house are packages of both store-bought and homemade cookies, given in appreciation of what this clinic team has been doing for patients and the community.

Between cars, the fish house team chats and grabs a cookie (or two) as they sing aloud to music and prepare the information packets and supplies for the approximately 150 people they will vaccinate in the next two hours.

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